Archive for the ‘Randomness’ category

Of Uncle Pai, IIT-B and BQC Open

March 9, 2011

As a little girl, seated at my study table, pretending to solve the much yawn-inducing Math worksheets assigned from school, I used to squeeze Tinkle comics under the damn thing and read them when nobody noticed. Yes. Stealthily. Like a mouse crouching in a corner nibbling on cheese. And I used to try my best to not show any of the myriad of emotions the comic took me through. Not to glow in the face when I solved one of those Tinkle Treats and Tricks; not to ‘eww’ when Chamataka gets bathed in a bucket full of coal-tar as a result of a failed plan to kill Kalia; not to facepalm when Suppandi makes a fool of himself (yet again). I had to be very careful; always keep a grim, this-Trigonometry-problem-is-so-tough-I-need-to-concentrate look on my face with my forehead pointed. Lest my mom notices and comes to investigate.

Among all the characters that Uncle Pai left behind, my favourite was Suppandi. His elongated half-head, long jaw and huge nose amused me. Coupled with his loose shorts (called ‘Senthil shorts’ in the South film industry), his red t-shirt and the way he changed his masters by the dozen, Suppandi was a sight to see. His clumsiness, stubbornness and uncanny ability to do EVERYTHING wrong were things that made Suppandi an epic comic character. I adored him.

Now imagine a room full of Suppandis, who are not even funny. On Sunday, 6th March’11, I attended a full-day event at IIT-Bombay – The BQC Open Quiz. And I couldn’t help but chuckle as the students of IIT-Bombay reminded me of the village simpleton. The clumsiness of the student organizers and their unparalleled ability in getting almost everything wrong. Except that Suppandi was innocent, genuinely ignorant and naive. He just couldn’t get a single task right. And genuinely so. But the IIT-B junta aren’t even innocent. For years now, I have noticed their casual approach towards organizing an event.

From what I gather, the BQC team had sent them detailed mails of instructions for the event. Availability of the auditorium, the mic systems, sound, buzzers, and other logistical requirements. And still, the last minute ‘jugaad’ for the buzzers, a lecture hall instead of the promised auditorium as the venue and absence of mics.

This is not the first time. Each time a quiz event happens at IIT-B, I have been witness to this kind of technological mismanagement. Why they failed to deliver was beyond me. Maybe, now I know why. Suppandi as a character was entertaining because of his ignorance at comprehending his own foolishness. Imagine another layer to him now. What if he knew what he is doing and still continued to do it? Its not ‘ignorance’ anymore, but ‘arrogance’. And you feel nothing but disgust and anger at such a character. That’s exactly what IIT-B student organizers come across as. Unbelievably clumsy with almost a ‘ok, chill da…why care?’ written on their faces. Year after year. (Link)

What irks me most is that in spite of the BQC team putting up such a fantastic show with high quality research, entertaining questions, and interesting formats, this review is overshadowed by the dismal arrangements made by the IIT-B students.

Coming to the quizzes, the BQC team put up an awesome event with a students-only general, an open sports and an open general quiz. The students general quiz conducted by Vikram Joshi and Pradeep Ramarathnam was thoroughly entertaining with questions ranging from Bunga Bunga to Kanga League. I felt the level of questions for students was just right with most of them being cracked by either the teams or audience members. It’s a good thing to keep the quiz on the easier side for students. They like to go home happy and entertained. Pradeep and Vikram did a good job of the hosting bit taking turns round wise.

The Sports quiz conducted by Atul Mathew, Anannya Deb and Anand Sivasankar was a decent show. (Note: I’m not too much into sports). What I liked most about it was their intention to make it an all-inclusive sports quiz. From styles of table-tennis grips to Kenenisa Bekele’s personal tragedy to Parvez Musharraf’s quote on Jahangir Khan, this was one informative quiz. However, I felt it could have been more entertaining with Cricket fundas. ‘Coz lets face it. In India, sport means Cricket. And it is essential to cater to the audience that’s there to just have some fun on a Sunday afternoon. In addition, the questions could have been shorter with more audio-visuals peppered in and a bit of coordination between the quizmasters would have helped. Hard core stuff deserves accolades.

This was followed by the Open General quiz by the big daddies – Rajiv Rai, Sumant Srivatsan and Vibhendu Tiwari. For anyone who’s wondering, why big daddies? Well, the slides were flawless, the questions ranged from moderately easy to real hard core toughies. I loved the history and entertainment questions specifically. My favourites: Kanchipuram sari shade MS Blue (named after MS Subbulakshmi) and the connection between AR Rahman, Tuntun and Hemlata. For me though, the highlight of this quiz was Sumant’s hosting. It was heartening to see him actually make an effort to walk to each team with the mic and MAKE them speak into it. And coupled with his witty comments and leg-pulls here and there, Sumant brought in some life after a long day of quizzing. With the absence of mics for teams, most of the times the audience couldn’t hear them during the other two quizzes. So Sumant, I felt, made it rather delightful.

All in all, a good day of quizzing for those who followed Rajiv’s advice and turned up, rather than watching the sissy cricket match at home. I have given up on IIT-Bombay students with regards to their ability to conduct an event flawlessly. Its not that they cannot. They just don’t have the intention. So here’s hoping BQC Open grows from strength to strength, and adds rich value to the already existing quizzing culture for years to come. As for IIT-Bombay event organizers, their anthem will always be the famous bath-tub song from Veer Zaara, ‘Hum Toh Bhai Jaise Hain, Vaise Rahenge.’

(Results of the quiz and snaps here: Link)



November 7, 2007

At a length of 0.5 cm and a thickness of 0.1 cm, the bruise on the inner side of my neck is evolving in a more picturesque manner than expected. The bruise caused by I still don’t know who, what, where, how. One fine morning, it just appeared. And I think I aggravated it further by scratching liberally with the moody finger of my left hand.

Well, it initially had a little bump and within 30 minutes of coming into existence it had turned from a bright Tomato Red to a dark dark Red, almost Black rather symmetric bump on the side of my neck. For the first day the pain was enough to remind me of its existence. However, the next day onwards a chance glance through the object forming the specular reflection (the mirror) for my vision made me re-look, thinking it was a mole of sorts.
After that the bump was a nice, firm irregularity on the side of my neck.
Friends suggested pricking it so the clotted blood would have an outlet and the ‘bruise’ would go. But, I believed it would just become more pinched over time and then separate from my body like dead cells do.

However, the bump subsided over time. Today the bump has almost subsided to skin level, and has become a beautiful Maroon-Red. A rather enchanting colour. Especially when held against sunlight.
Now that it has become like any regular bruise, I expect it to go through the usual colour changes of Purple, Green-Yellow and Yellow then light Brown before vanishing.
I find it rather entertaining to observe the colour changes of bruises. I think that comes from the fact that I bruise often, and the best bet is to enjoy them if you can’t avoid them.

Perhaps the life cycle of this bruise will be short considering it’s on the inner side of my neck has a high blood flow. Let me see.
It would have been fun if they were not so independent and performed small activities for you. Example, you tell the bruise ‘Change!’ and it changes colours. You tell ‘Hide’ and it vanishes for some time. You say, ‘Shift’ and you can move it to a different body part. Would have made them so much more interesting I think. However, now they seem to have a mind of their own, and decide where to appear on their personal whims. Sometime even hurt you, and definitely change colours when you are not looking.
Well, at least they provide some entertainment.

Predicting the Future

November 5, 2007

It’s been a slow kind of day – meaning I have work pending which I am not doing. Finally the long days and short nights of the past week are catching up. With a weekend of activity ahead with Diwali et al, I don’t see much respite till Monday.
So, as I sit on my seat with empty cups of Cappuccino beside me, I wonder – modern day people have become too mindless to think; they mostly just follow. Else, what once developed art form, now revered / ridiculed as forecasting tool has no new versions.

What am I talking about? Tealeaf reading of course! Something so innovative, new and so darned weird, has no modern day equivalents! I mean, reading the dregs of tea is definitely a European thing. Yet Tea itself is such an old concoction in Asia (China to be precise). It went to Europe only more than a century ago. People were imaginative enough then, to have Tea and wonder about one’s future depending upon the shape of the broken Tealeaves at the bottom of the cup.

Why then, has today’s wo/man left innovating? Why not something new about the way and shape of coffee rings left on the cup? What about the foam on the opposite wall of the empty cup? Wont someone please step up and analyse that and tell me my future?
Considering so many coffee drinkers around the world are interested in the occult, how is it that they don’t do a little bit of innovation and extrapolation to develop new techniques for today’s beverage – coffee? With the Internet and the ‘world being small’ and all that, I am sure they will have enough takers, if not earn a few pennies in the bargain.

Hmm…Perhaps this was left for me to create. I now know my true calling…my future (I read it from my 3 empty cups).
It is to drink coffee and predict the future on the basis of the foam marks on the cup!

Thus I shall foretell what the future holds for you. Only condition – it has to be Cappuccino with lots of foam.
Come to me! The initial 10 readings are free.

On my way to town the other day…

July 31, 2007

I saw…

– a decapitated but very healthy buffalo heavy into rigor mortis.
– a sign for a public telephone which had lost its ‘L’ leading it to become a pubic telephone.(One wonders which end to talk into.)
-a sign by a local cobbler shop which said “foot were”…(were what? not feet before?)
-a graffiti on the wall which said hum sab ek hain (agar saath thoke to- if we all boink together…(me thinks dastardly engineering students did this)
-a small child peering very raptly at a goat which came and ate up her mother’s offerings at a roadside temple.
-one of the staff in a bank dig deep into his nose for boogers and wipe them on the curtains when he thought no one was looking.

So little time so much to see. I wonder how much money full-time observers make these days?

(ps: ‘town’ in Mumbai means VT-the main city part)

Ya Jhakkas!

October 31, 2006

Am taking a bow.

🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

Ages… but why

May 26, 2006

Yes, I know its been ages since I last wrote here
don’t know what came over me?
Sometimes I start on something
and just wont feel like it.

Yes, I know its been ages since I last wrote here
“but why?” you ask, I don’t really know.
Can you beat that?
I don’t have any more words to write!

Yes, I know its been ages since I last wrote here
“But why?” you ask again. As I try to explain
Life, I realize is droning now
with a black and white image,
though there are painters everywhere
trying to drench me in colours
I now bear upon me a plastic sheath
So the colours just run off in a while.

Yes, I know its been ages since I last wrote here
meanwhile a lot happened, where do I begin?
I really don’t know where I left off
So, I think I’ll pass it for now.

Ps: I am very much ALIVE, have replied to the comments, regular blogging resumed….err….Hopefully!! 🙂

Brand Melody – Part I

March 4, 2006
Authors’ note
During my final semester in Bachelor of management studies (BMS), I majored in Marketing of which a large chunk (as I figured out) comprised of Advertising and Brands. Very soon I developed a keen interest in the subject, especially brands. I had an urge to know more about the genesis of various brands and their related topics. I enjoyed reading more and more of brand building concepts, branding strategies, their application in today’s business and advertising scenario. That apart, another one of my ardent interests is Music.
Hence, when I thought of merging the two – Brands and Music, here is what I could come up with. Apart from reflecting my own opinion and ideas on the subject, a good part of this write-up discusses facts about companies, brands, etc based on a research I did during BMS. Also, this is my first post with a few photos/pics. Read, learn and enjoy!!

“The advertisers who believe in the selling power of jingles have never had to sell anything.”
——- David Ogilvy

In recent years, consumer purchase decisions have become more weighted towards emotional attributes rather than functional benefits. As consumers become increasingly ‘high tech’, they crave personalization and ‘high touch.’ Music is one such instrument in the hands of advertisers and marketing personnel that enables them to touch the personal chord of the consumers.

“Music expresses that which cannot be put into words and that which cannot remain silent.”
——- Victor Hugo

The true marketing potential of music is that without any other stimulus, it can access a mood, emotion, and deeply move specific demographics within a target market in just a few seconds. In addition, the heritage of music, through the artist, Genre, etc., can reflect a culture, a time period and lifestyle without even playing a note! Musicians and songwriters themselves have an innate talent for making connections and distilling a message into its essence. They are often dreamers and visionaries who operate on an emotional level – natural drivers of direction and catalysts for expressing complex social issues in contemporary voice. In addition, with new multimedia platforms such as interactive mobile phones, music can further extend its reach and ability to impact the consumer on a multitude of levels. The television commercial has historically been the initial platform where brands have used music to support a visual idea.

Creating Brand identity through music
The GAP creative teams have excelled with this approach. The GAP has a very clear and compelling music DNA: fun, edgy, innovative, approachable and personal. The consistency of the style of its television commercials, plain white backdrops with young energetic multicultural people, with bold exciting music, is The GAP identity glue under which a host of different products have been successfully launched. They created a formula that clicked in the consumer’s mind. The GAP clearly understands that building a Brand by ‘tone of voice’ requires repetition and exposure. The GAP repeatedly used this format and as a result helped promote artists’ new tracks in seasonal commercials. When singer-songwriter Rufus Wainwright appeared in a Christmas commercial, the record company began promoting him as “that guy who appeared in the GAP commercial.”

Music Strategy
A classy example of a great Music strategy is Nike’s use of an old, relatively unknown Elvis track as the soundtrack to a commercial. The commercial gave the track huge airtime on broadcast media, something that the radio stations would not give to an artist who had been dead for 25 years.
The hype was not about the quality of the commercial or the cost of the shoot but the fact that the Elvis estate had been persuaded to allow a modern remix of the track by a popular DJ, JXL and that this was the 25th anniversary of the death of a superstar. The amount of column inches that the partnership produced was beyond the wildest PR expectations. BMG, the record company that owns the Elvis catalogue, had spent 25 years repackaging and reinventing the Elvis back catalogue with a very steady but modest level of success. Off the back of this commercial and the subsequent No 1 single hit in 22 territories, they were able to produce and release a new CD of the Elvis No 1’s over the last 25 years and shifted tons of millions of copies of the album. What made this CD so powerful was that it included the latest hit No 1 “A Little Less Conversation” which charted in the year of the 25th anniversary. The Nike logo had a tag of the Elvis Charm and magic that worked for the brand as well as the record company, BMG.

A more Indian example would be that of the Close Up commercial created by O & M, for instance, superim poses a K L Saigalesque background score on a comic book style visual, while the in-house team at Indore designed the Radio Mirchi segment in which it was to be played. Both hit the funny bone with their parody of old-world Hindi musical styles and thus the jingle, “kya aap close-up karte hai…” proved to be a super-hit and we all found ourselves humming it from time to time.

Brand weds Emotion
Music is essentially emotional and there are few other elements of a brand that have the power to be as responsive to people’s needs for sensory pleasure and to promises of delivery. People relate to brands in a similar way. They form relationships based on personality, appearances (style and image) and trust. Great music can create yearning for a Brand, self-confidence and security through ownership, and make us feel as if we belong to a larger group. Arguably, it is not just the music that evokes the emotion but rather the whole Brand or image of that music entity.
The lingering notes of Obsession between the folds of satin; the sight of a fast-melting dollop of Amul butter with the connotation of “The taste of India!” the aroma of steaming Campbell soup; the texture of Wedgewood artifacts; the electric blue of Pepsi; and the haunting tune of the Cadburys ad (Kya swaad hai zindagi mein) …brands market experiences. The “Sound of a Brand” is more complex. It is the emotional response to the Brand that is evoked universally, from the commercial players in the management of the acquisition of music content/property right through to the consumer on the street at the receiving end. The consumer on a conscious or subconscious level between the Brand and the music being used about the initial connection makes the “Sound of the Brand”. For example the Cadburys advertisement of the lady dancing in the field had left its strong impact on the emotional levels of the consumers as it said ‘Kya swaad hai zindagi mein.’ The music always connects to the lives of the Cadbury’s chocolate eater. Cadbury’s jingles have always maintained the personal and emotional aspects right from in all their advertisements which include ‘Kya swaad hai zindagi mein’ (the cricket ground), ‘khaane waalon ko khaane ka bahana chaahiye’ (Cyrus Broacha ad) and ‘khush hua mein khamakha.’

The two Mc Donald’s campaigns, “McDonald’s mein hai kuch baat” and, “I m lovin’ it” have also been successful due to differentiated music strategies. McDonald’s, consistently attempts at striking a common chord between the emotional quotient of the consumer and the brand name making it more personal so as to make believe each and every consumer that ‘yes, he’s lovin’ it.’ The music is brief yet powerful, full of energy and more fun oriented. Also, the TV commercials are conceptualised in such a manner that the music/lyrical song is completely soaked into the script of the ad. The best example of one such commercial is that of the stage-fearing little boy who recites a poetry in the restaurant and is applauded by all. This is the music differentiation strategy that McDonald’s has constantly followed. What a customer hears may make the difference between his choosing and not choosing a particular brand. Music can make the difference.
Music rekindles human emotions with respect to a brand and in this way helps to marry off the two – brand and emotions. Music is an incredibly powerful vehicle that has the power to convey the emotional attributes of products and services while simultaneously creating layered, textural experiences in our lives. A shift in thinking, from regarding music as a soft service function to a cornerstone of business/brand strategy has indeed occurred.

Sources of research
Gerald J. Gorn’s The Effects of Music In Advertising on Choice behaviour, 1982.
Ogilvy on Advertising
How to capture the advertising high ground by Winston Fletcher
Advertising express – a monthly digest by ICFAI, January and March’05 issues
Google images