Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Danone Yoghurt TVC - From yum to yuk in 30 seconds flat

For someone who regards yoghurt as ‘soul food’, Danone (the French yoghurt brand) the fruity yoghurt was a gastronomic delight and a delight for the soul. I was happy when after hours of hunting around the likes of Spencer’s, Food Bazaar, etcetera, I spotted the yoghurt brand at my next door kirana wala. Now, supply would match demand and i would never have to ‘search’ for Danone again.

As i started digging into the Danone strawberry yoghurt tub, i switched on the tube. And what I saw there made me shudder in disgust.

The Danone TVC was on air, with some weird characters straight out of a horror animated film singing something alien to God knows who and God knows for what. The weird looking characters made from the yoghurt tubs had fat lips and looked quite gross.
Why on earth was such a delicious tasting yogurt brand converted into such awful creatures? Who would want to eat it when one saw it in its ugly insect avatars on telly??? The agency has overlooked the fact that a food brand should always look inviting; it should look so tempting that the viewer should want to go and pick it off from the TV itself.

But alas! Here was the polar opposite. Danone had become from yum to yuk in 30 seconds flat. The brand had managed to kill itself and my appetite in one sweeping stroke of film.

Will someone please take it off the air and replace it with some yummy TVC!!

Monday, September 6, 2010

The 'Class' System

The ‘CLASS’ system
October ends. November begins. And the buzz starts among the high schoolers; everyone asks one another, “Which class are you going to?” Maths, Science, English, there are tons of tuition classes to choose from; all promising expert teaching. And just when some na├»ve parents begin to heave a sigh of relief, the bomb hits them. Hey! You’ve got to first clear the entrance test of the classes. The poor parents, unbeknownst of the dangers of such tests, push their wards to study and appear for the tests. While some emerge out of them with flying colours, most come out losing colour. Too bad. The class is for the brightest ones, you see. Not for the average ones. And then once these scholars are taken under the wings of the teachers, they shine in the merit list or at the least get into the admission list of some prestigious colleges.

But ever given it a thought what happens to those who are shown the door at such classes? These poor students are not the brightest (read 95 % +) and hence lose out. So what if they have scored 85%? It’s too less. So what do these students do? Hide the stars in their eyes and dreams in their heart, and adjust to the harsh ways of the world? What about those wonderful quotes and sayings that rave about ‘Failure is the stepping stone to success’, what about the learning from ‘Edison’s own 10,000 failed experiments before he met with success’? Do they hold no meaning anymore? Do scores score high and not potential? Oh yes! The not-so-bright ones learn it the hard way. The truth about life. Results matter. Efforts don’t. They amount to nothing. Zero. Zilch.

Today, tuitions have become more like the caste system of yore. The bright ones are welcomed, the others treated as outcasts. Think! Is it fair to do so? To classify students even before they get a fair chance to prove themselves. Is it just to brand them as failures even before they start? But how does it matter to the teachers and classes who admit only scholars? Because, for them, it’s business. As usual.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Thursday, May 13, 2010

From gurukul to shishyakul: for better or for worse?

There's been a major shift in the Indian education system of today. A change that is growing on us like a bad habit. Gradually, stealthily, unknown to us. And all of us, educators, students and parents are falling prey to it.

The gurukul mindset has been completely taken over by the shishyakul mindset. In the most basic sense, the shisyakul mindset can be defined as one that is designed to please the shisya, that is the student. And so, everyone concerned expends their resources on wooing the shisysa and his parents. What follows are fancy schools complete with trimmings like a sprawling ground, cafeteria, plush AC buildings, wi-fi classrooms, the works. What also follows is a convenient negligence to the school's core competency area, that of imparting knowledge. The students learn swimming, basketball, theatre, eat burgers and chow, and learn to work on fancy laptops, but flounder helplessly when asked to perform some quick mental math.

Ultimately, the class that comes out of the educational institution sadly lacks in the most crucial aspect of education: fundamental knowledge. Eventually, the whole economy gets short-changed, because there's a paucity of talent. This is the case everywhere. If the IT honchos crib about the short supply of good people, so do the engineering, science, arts and crafts people.

But all's not lost. We can still rectify the situation, where knowledge comes first and the co curricular activities remain co-curricular, instead of taking over the reins from knowledge. For this, the institutions have to focus more on developing a pool of qualified, experienced teachers, the gurus, who consider imparting knowledge as their first duty. Teachers should focus more on knowledge and teaching well. Students should concentrate more on learning and doing it well. And parents should spend more on sound education than on sound lifestyles in schools.

Conscience, it is said, is our main teacher. It tells us when we are going wrong. Time folks, to nudge our sleeping conscience awake. Time to hear the alarm bells ringing. Time to get our education fundas back on track.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Recipe for a great ad

Ad khichdi - On a platter.

Once upon a time, when I was a fresh faced, young copywriter, my boss told me a secret to keep clients happy. Said he, "Always have two ideas - one for your client and one for his customer'. Confused thoroughly, asked I of him, "Sir, but doesn't the client want what his customer wants?"

The boss replied haughtily, "You will find out soon".

Off we went to the client with two ideas. One for him and one for his customer. We put both on the table. The client peered at them from above his rimless peepers. He looked at one, then at another. Then again at the first one and then the second. Then after a precious 60 minutes had flown from the clock above his head, he looked at us and gave his verdict. "I like the visual in this. But I like the line in that. Now go and put these two together and make me a third. "

My boss looked at me and I at him. We both nodded knowingly. Picked up the two ads, went back and like seasoned chefs got down to cooking the khichdi. We chopped and added, and added and chopped, then blended it all together and lo and behold! The khichdi was ready.

The client looked at it, stroked his French beard and smiled. "Now, you have got it", said he.
We beamed. We had done it. Yet again.

Rustled up the perfect ad khichdi. Loved by the client. My boss. His boss. And the client's customer............hopefully.