Saturday, July 30, 2005

The Spirit of Mumbaikars

Tuesday, 26th July 2005 will now be remembered as “Terrible Tuesday”. It was the day when skies opened up. The day when it rained more than it rains in cherapunji in a single day. To be precise it rained 94 cms. Actually no metropolis in the whole world has received so much rain in a given single day. Mumbai witnessed the unthinkable and mumbaikars, history.

To add to the woes, Arabian Sea was on high. Immense rainwater and high tide assured that the city was flooded like never before. Water levels rising as high as 8feet!! The rail lines were the first to get flooded and the so-called lifeline of Mumbai came to a grinding halt. Then the roads started getting clogged due to excessive water. Traffic came to a standstill and the situation got worst. People got stranded at nowhere. And with so much water around the power supply was cut off due to the fear of short circuit. Darkness fell on the city and people got hold of any thing, which can bail them out. Many of us like me, wiser souls, stayed back in their offices and spent the night.

The rains stopped the next day, but the suffering didn’t. The trains didn’t start for more than half the day. Roads were littered with cars and buses abandoned by the commuters. Many owners left their costly cars and walked their way home. Truly, Life is a great leveler. I have met guys who have walked for more than 5-7 hours to reach their homes. As I was making my own treacherous way back home, I saw some ghastly scenes. Cattle carcass floating in water, garbage strewn over and destruction all over the place. But amidst death, I saw life struggling and helping each other out. On every nook and corner of the city, people where helping out each other. Residents of that area distributing free drinking water, hot tea, and biscuits to eat. They also guided the weary motorist, on which way to take so as to reach home.

What comes across is the spirit of mumbaikars, and the collective spirit of Mumbai. The spirit, which refuses to die. The spirit, which floats in the flooded murky waters of Mumbai. The spirit, which has survived the deadly bomb blasts and the riots. The spirit, which has survived various scams and scheming politicians.

The Spirit, which can never be broken.

Monday, July 25, 2005

Umeed se Dugna

Umeed se Dugna

Many of us have seen the latest KBC teaser, which has Abby Baby crooning in it. And most of us are impressed by the creativity and the execution of the Ad. KBC season 2 will soon go on air and will bring in more revenue for Star TV.

Coming to Star TV, we all know that it’s the number one channel in India and has an amazing fan following. But being a marketing student, my take on this point is different. Star TV is one of the finest marketing entities we currently have in our country. To prove my point, lets take an outsider view of the company.

Circa 1995: when the cable revolution has just started and Zee proving to be the unbeatable leader. Star had come up with many channels but none able to connect with the audience. Star World was too upmarket to be popular and at the same time star plus had immense identity crisis. Star plus started with English programmes but later on realized that Hindi is the national language.

Then comes the year of turn around. The year when star plus launched KBC and Kyunki (I guess its 1999 –00). These two programmes catapult star plus from a number3 to an undisputable number 1. KBC with its format and the charisma of Amitabh was an instant hit. While kyunki took its little time to establish, but then history takes time to be created. Also a new prime slot of 10:30 was invented by the soap. The idea of broadcasting the show at 10:30 would be suicidal, but it silenced all the critics with its success. The rest as they say is history. Kahani ghar ghar kii and soaps alike captured more and more viewer ship for the channel.

The focal point is the change in the marketing strategy. From being a directionless channel to a focused one. All the programmes directed towards a specific target group largely the typical Indian family household and the housewife’s for the afternoon shows (remember Star Doophar). Success begets success is an old maxim but still very true. With the newly acquired number one slot, the channel put in more efforts to capitalize. Shows like star parivaar awards and specials during holis and diwalis only meant, increased viewer ship and more revenues.

But if star is truly a marketing genius then why am I not hooked to star plus? This is the question, which was very well understood by the marketing team at star. They have segmented the market and offered channel for each and every segment. So they launched Star One. And it’s an instant hit among urban youth. Also the legendary soaps like friends and baywatch have positioned star world as an urban chic. But it does not stop here. They came up with star gold, which was to showcase old classics but then realized that the market is limited for such channels. So they turned it into a full-fledged movie channel. And ya, a very innovative channel by the name Star Utsav, where they were going to showcase those serial which have completed their run. I am not sure of how the channel is doing but the idea is commendable. Of course other channels such as Channel V, NatGeo, etc are doing their bit well.

But some credit of Star's success will go to number 2 and number 3 channel viz Sony and Zee. Sony plays the role of a challenger. A challenger constantly fighting it out to be the winner. And Zee being a lousy third is now trying to be innovative. It is because of these two that Star is always on its toes.

The fundamental point we can learn from the master marketer is the detailed attention given to the needs of the customers. Getting the pulse of the market and the underlying currents, which actually rule the market. And eventually delivering it flawlessly. Infact when it comes to Star, it always delivers more than expected (mark of a true marketer) by the consumers. Rightfully “Umeed Se Dugna”

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Goregaon To Churchgate

A piece written by my colleague. Captures the ride wholesomely

It’s a beautiful day when you leave your cozy house in the morning for your day’s work. After you are done with your daily chores and your breakfast, you are all set to go to office.

But my dear friend let me remind you, you are located in a city known as Mumbai. It’s really easy to say that you are satisfied with the work you do. But alas, you can’t say the same about the way in which you reach the place, where you do your satisfying work. Ironically, it’s commuting that takes more out of you than your work itself. And work gets paid, commuting doesn’t.

So, you leave your house fresh as a spring flower, in firmly pressed clothes, hair intact, and with all the potency to face your day’s work. You normally take a cab or rickshaw to reach the nearby station from where the train starts for the ultimate destination, i.e. Churchgate.

On the Platform
You stand all alone in the world of many, gazing the people standing on the same platform as if you have never seen any (You are actually evaluating who are your competitors and how beatable are they). Slowly, the crowd starts multiplying with an ever-increasing rate. And you start sweating by the mere view of it (Not that the Sun is out). You now know, it’s not going to be easy to get a place in the train bogie for which you have shelled out your hard-earned dough.

And slowly, you start devising a strategy that will help you earn a seat in the train bogie. You set your priorities (Maybe, first a window seat, then a right hand seat, standing near the door, etc). After that, you plan your optimal movement in the train while boarding, the total duration of which is not going to be more than a fraction of a second. Amidst all these thoughts, suddenly you hear voices and witness some chaos. Hey, there it is, standing a kilometer away, the medium that will help you reach your destination Churchgate (You already forgot that by now), the TRAIN.

But there’s no time. Remember, it’s no less than an India-Pakistan war. Indeed, all the valiant soldiers are gearing up for the fight of their life, the battlefield is slowly approaching, get in or you are out of the race. And will have to see yours Senior’s angry face. And then lands the battlefield on the platform. But hey, even before you gave the slightest thought of getting in, people are actually jumping and hopping into the train. I can tell you, it’s an unbelievable sight. And you are actually thrown here and there, and you say to yourself, damn the strategy and the seat, will I even be able to get into the train.

In the Transit
Yes, you made it. You started the war on a good note. At least, you somehow managed to hang on to the train. Although, you didn’t secure yourself a seat (I am quite sure about that), you are at least being displaced towards the destination Churchgate. The sight of people hanging on the train can be compared with the sight of red ants dangling on a piece of bread (Although the red ants take some minutes to cover a bread, the train gets covered in a matter of some nano seconds).

Inside the train, you are having the most pleasant time of the day. Reciting all the prayers you can and wishing god that the train completes its journey as soon as possible. It’s only here that you get the chance to determine how your sweat tastes, because anyways you cannot wipe it off (Your hands are entwined in the crowd). Slowly, more and more people start to get into the train and that doesn’t make your life any easier (Now you know the disadvantages of a 1.2 billion population). The moving crowd literally brushes you and converts your well-pressed Branded shirt into a tattered piece of cloth. Some hands above your head brush your intact hair into a muddled bunch of grass (In all the crowd, You feel that you are a wise man that you left your umbrella back home). And your sweat has already decided to give you another bath.

In the midst of your journey you start wondering, why the hell I am in this train. When will I be rich enough to travel to-and-fro in a car? On one end exasperation is building up and someone starts arguing with you on your inappropriate posture. And although you wish to bash him up, you subtly settle the matter (i.e. After gauging the opponent’s size).

Just when you are on the end of journey, literally cursing someone who spoiled the state of your shirt, someone in the rush of getting down stamps his foot on your polished and shining shoe. Before you shout, he’s even left the platform leaving you in despair. Finally at Marine lines, you start gathering your luggage and become ready for alighting the train. You actually start thinking that; I have already lost half my day’s energy (And I require the remaining half while I am on my way back). The train has left you in misery, with a half drenched and messy shirt, muddled hair, dirty shoe, and an exasperated mood.

On the Churchgate Platform - Eureka
Ah! What a relief. You are on the seventh heaven, when you have alighted the Train. It feels the same as when a war gets over. Peace is the word. But as soon as you start thanking your god, he replies you with the blessings of water, i.e. Rain. Enjoy your way to the office!!!