Saturday, March 28, 2009

Aircel? Airtel?

This is a fictional article that appeared in my head a few days ago.

Following the nationwide launch of telecommunication company Aircel with a poor creative (TVC) buffered by massive media budgets, irate consumers have decided to stage a dharna outside Aircel's head office in every city.

"I cannot stand that annoying ringtone-music that keeps playing from the Aircel commercial. And it seems to be playing on every channel at all times. It's everywhere, even in restaurants and on the radio," said one of the protestors outside the Aircel office in Bangalore. He has resorted to wearing ear plugs so that he cannot hear the ringtone-music even by mistake. We had to show him our badges and then conduct the interview by writing down our questions to which he would respond by writing down his answers. He also mentioned he was now being approached by some headphones companies to promote their headphones and earphones, but he declined to say which companies those were.

Another protestor outside the Delhi Aircel office had an issue with the cricketers used in the commercial. "My 5 year old son had no problems in identifying Indian cricketers before this ad came out," he said proudly. "But now that they have used look-alikes who bear a striking resemblance to the original cricketers, he cannot say for sure who Harbhajan, Gambir, Sachin and Yuvraj are. Heck, even I have trouble now. Due to this, my son has started losing interest in cricket and we fear that he may not desire the career in cricket we desire for him. I want to sue Aircel for all the endorsements he would have gotten as an Indian cricketer, but now will not. I want to sue Aircel for my retirement." His cry was taken up by other young parents around him.

When contacted for his reaction, India captain Dhoni seemed non-plussed. "Aircel?" he queried, his puzzlement clearly evident. "I thought I had been signed up for Airtel. The brand manager I spoke to had a lisp. So, everytime he said 'Aircel', I thought he was saying 'Airtel'. Oh dang! I hate the Aircel ringtone-music. I took an Airtel number after I signed the contract. My ringtone and callertune are both the famous Airtel music composed by A.R. Rahman. I'm a big fan of his. Sigh! I guess I'll have to put my phone on 'Silent' all the time now."

When prodded about the resemblance of the actors to the cricketers, he replied, "When I was shooting the commercial, I thought I was shooting with the cricketers. You see, I have myopic vision and I need to wear spectacles, but I can't as I am in talks with some eyewear brands to become their ambassador. Till that is finalised, I can't buy myself glasses. When I saw the Aircel ad on TV, I was amazed that they had found somebody who looked just like me. I immediately called my manager to ask if this will reduce my commercial worthiness, but he assured me that people will always only want the real thing. So I relaxed, took my bike and went and had a glass of fresh cow's milk with Lalooji."

It is this reporter's opinion that companies that have massive media budgets must first ensure that they have a good creative to be blasted out onto the unsuspecting consumers. Vodafone is another company that is getting dangerously close to the line of sanity for the consumers. Aircel has already jumped over the line with their entry.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

I love February

I think February is the best month in the year, and I'm quite sad that it has passed. Of course, I was born in Feb, so I think it makes it even more special. But I especially love all the quirks the month comes with.

It's the shortest month in the year, the only one with less than 30 days. It's also the only month that is flexible in the number of days it has - 28 or 29. It's neither the first month nor the last, and it's not slotted right in the middle either.

I quit my job this Feb. It's another one in a growing list. It was a decent job, paid decently too. I quit it because I wanted to follow my heart. I quit it because if you are not passionate about something, you are just existing for the heck of it and you will never succeed; you'll just move forward slightly. I still like advertising and I think I might return to the industry, but I don't want to return on the management side; I want to return on the creative side. And that is exactly what I'm going out to explore - my creative side.

I'm going to explore my writing and my music, both of which are at a very nascent stage. I'm unqualified in both areas, but I have grand dreams for them and I know I can do something with them. I know I want to do something with them.

I'm also going to explore my social side - one that has been twisting and turning inside me, hollering for the attention it has never received. I have always been an armchair activist, but it doesn't feel enough. I want to go out and actually make a difference. I want to be in that last mile delivery where I get to see the results first-hand and, hopefully, immediately. I am in the process of trying to become a Teach For India Fellow. I've never been a teacher before but I know I'm good with children.

I crave immediate gratification and that is something I never got at any of my jobs. That is something I get with my writing and my music. That is something I think I will get with teaching and with social work. I am following my heart. There is a good chance I am shooting myself in the foot. If that is the case, I hope I am able to hobble back to this corporate world I am leaving behind without too much damage; but I hope that is not the case.

Wish me luck, for I am about to embark on a journey whose route and destination I do not know. I see a haze in front of me, but I am moving in a particular direction.