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There was a very interesting happening in the social media space recently, when a customer put out a promoted tweet, to sound out his frustrations against British Airways.  Perhaps the first instance of this kind, this was a topic of a lot of discussions, including this interesting debate that happened on my own timeline.


In fact, there was more deliberation on the subject, as Karthik Srinivasan did a blog post on the subject, cuing it with the above-referred discussion on my timeline to begin with, and sharing his details point of view on the subject. More opinions were expressed as Karthik shared the post on Facebook and Twitter.

So, as always, Karthik does a good and thorough job of putting together facts and his viewpoints on the subject, and I fully respect the same. I agree with most of the points he makes in his blog post.

Why do I still see the need to make some additional comments here? That is simply because, I believe, the point that I was trying to make, via my FB post, and the conversation that I had, mostly with Paul, on my timeline as referred above, was slightly different. And which I want to bring out and highlight hereunder.

First things first, and specifically in reference to Karthik’s blog post, let me clarify:

1. I am definitely of the opinion that the power shift has happened into the hands of the consumer, with the advent of social media. And I am all for it. I talk about this to my clients, almost everyday, and also at speaking events, often. Personally, I have had a few occasions when I have had to take my battles with certain brands on to the social media spaces, after having tried all other traditional means, and not managed to make any impact on the brand.

So I recognise the need and the relevance of consumers using social media channels to put out their perspectives about brands, especially the negative ones. This is happening, will happen more, and I have no issues with this trend.

2. I also do NOT believe that social media platforms would prevent some kind of content about a brand coming on to their platforms, because that brand is also an advertiser, and they would fear that the advertising revenue will be lost. No, I don’t believe that would be a motivation for the social media platforms to stop a piece of content coming up on their platforms.

If these are not the issues, then what else are the points that I was making, when I had some concerns about the trend of consumers putting out anti-brand / negative content, via paid digital advertising methods?

1. As Karthik has sighted in his post, there ARE certain guidelines that platforms prescribe, in regards to advertising content. I will quote from Karthik’s post itself, with examples of Google and Facebook:

a. From Google: 

Google AdWords doesn’t allow the promotion of “discrimination” or violent concepts, such as the following:

Ad text advocating against an organisation, person or group of people

b. From Facebook: 

Ads may not insult, attack, harass, bully, threaten, demean or impersonate others.

Why do they even want to put some restrictions of this kind, if they have no liability towards the advertising content?

Why do platforms have a process of “reviewing” the ad content, at all??

I believe they DO have some level of liability, even if it may be a grey area of sorts, and due to which reason they would want to not let things go totally out of hand.


2. So do I believe that a genuine customer, making a genuine case about a brand, can take things ‘out of hand’??

No, certainly not. My point was in regards to potential abuse of the system, due to allowing such anti-brand advertising. Few days back there was this rumour floating around, about how Delhi police had issued a warning to not consumer Frooti, as it caused AIDS!! Obviously a hoax, but an extremely damaging one for the brand. The company had to take very strong action, as you can see here.

This hoax could have been someone’s mischief.

It could have been motivated by a unscrupulous competitor. The spread of a rumour of this kind, in a country like ours, could seriously knock off market share of Frooti?!  And which would be hard to recover back.

A prankster who does it for fun, and puts out a blog post or a post on his Facebook page, or a review on some customer review site, will generate x amount of reach. Bad enough for Frooti, but not AS damaging as it could get, if one actually put out paid ads on various platforms propounding such misinformation!

AND if there was a competitor’s hand at the back, and where crores of rupees of market share is involved, does it stop the unscrupulous competitor putting out several lakhs of rupees, to have this come out as an ad, and put out in the name of a consumer?!

The damage caused by an activity of this kind can end up causing substantial damage to Frooti, before it is picked up, and recovery efforts are put in place.

And to think that, it would be so easy to achieve something like that? Today, Frooti, tomorrow Nescafe or Cadburys or whoever.

And if a few thousand crores of “loss” happens, does the brand have ANY hope to sue that fronting consumer, and expect to recover even a fraction of that amount?

Would they then make the platform also a party to the legal damage caused? Perhaps…


3. The question then could be, that if damage had to happen, it can happen with organic content also, and not just with paid content. So if we cannot stop organic content (a user’s FB post / her tweet / her blog post / her posting on a customer review site, for example), how and why should platforms stop the paid type?

Yes, there’s clearly a thin line here. My view is only motivated from the fact that these platforms HAVE some process of guidelines for advertising, for ad reviews, etc. So there is an element perhaps, of an involved liability, which will force them to not accept rank potentially derogatory advertising, from anyone. If Twitter does not have guidelines of this kind, maybe they will also create some. In the absence of guidelines and in the absence of scrutiny of ad content, things could get chaotic out there?!

We have fought a fierce battle for one of our clients, where as a market leader, they were attacked by one of their upstart competitors, by relentless, fake accounts based complaints lodging, on various consumer review platforms. It took a massive effort to quell them down, and clean up the space.

I shudder to think the level of damage that paid advertising of anti-brand reports could have caused then..?!


4. So am I sounding very soft and sympathetic towards brands, in my stand here?

No, even though I earn my bread and butter from working for brands, on social media, this post is not to bring sympathy for brands. They do have enough money, many do enough wrong, and when necessary, we need to go after them, and expose their failures.

My concern is about the playing field becoming one mega chaos where then, you cannot distinguish fact from make-believe.

Let’s visualise a scenario, especially after seeing this promoted tweet case of the customer, against British Airways.

That say, every grieved customer who has a few thousand rupees to spare, goes out and creates such promoted tweets or promoted posts, or Facebook advertising.

Add to that, a certain breed of agencies (of the kind that buys you millions of fans from anywhere in the world, or who black-hats your SEO.. you get the drift, right, about the kind of agency I am referring to?!) who will start offering to companies, a route to ‘bring down their competitors’ for a few lakhs of rupees. So we see a huge surge of similar anti-brand advertising emerging from such agencies (with a front name of a consumer…).

Are these difficult to imagine? Not to me at least.

What would this result in? Mayhem on the advertising platforms, and consequently, disaster for the brands.. ?!

Yes, it could generate more moneys spent on digital advertising (or “anti-advertising” to be more precise), and due to the damage caused, more money spent on ORM.

But would it be healthy?? Would the platforms and the media itself lose credibility as a consequence??

THAT is my fear. Once opened up, can the tap be shut? I doubt it..

If you will go back to my Facebook timeline and my discussion with Paul, the specific concern that I raised there, and which I have elaborated here, IS about misuse and not about genuine use, by genuine customers!

Perhaps my concerns are unfounded…

Perhaps anti-advertising will happen, but will be used with more discretion by consumers…

We will have to wait and see.

Hope I have made my point of view a little more clear, at least, now..

This thought was born when there was a discussion in another group I belong to, around the thousands of crores of rupees spent on creating the new Mukesh Ambani residence, and whether it made sense at all.

imagesMy point in that debate was that, the money being spent, came into circulation, and enabled many others – from architects to interior decorators to engineers to contractors to labourers – to earn a living, or a little more than that. And in that way, it was a good thing that the money got spent!

And which is what led me to this blog post.

Successful and driven people like Mukesh Ambani will continue to make more and more money! They already have a humungous capital base, and due to the drive they have, due to the kind of businesses that they are in, they will keep growing that capital base, year after year. That is a given.

How they make the money, whether they break the laws to do so, etc. are not the subject matter of this post. So I will not get into that debate here.

Consider the simple fact that they sit on a massive capital base and which will keep growing.

The money that they have is certainly enough for a few generations of their family, to live extremely handsomely, and without needing to work at all. And that has been the general mindset of Indian business people. Which is why we see extremely large amassing of wealth, but nearly abysmal ‘giving back’.

Beyond a point, let’s say, beyond Rs. 500 cr or say, Rs. 1,000 cr, if someone has more wealth, does it even make a difference? In real usage point of view, will it make a difference if one has Rs. 1,001 cr or Rs. 10,000 cr?? Typically, no serious difference as far as lifestyle is concerned.

Then the amassing of more wealth is only for purpose of leaving it behind for your progeny.

But what does it do to the future generations? Leaving aside a few exceptions of rich families, most times, the subsequent generations have degenerated! No serious motivation to work, lots and lots of wealth to go around, and what that creates more often than not, are wasted individuals.

So all that money left behind, to give comfort to your future generations, only to create lazy, unmotivated spoilt kids?? Is that what they wish for their future generations?

When very rich people SPEND their money or USE it in any interesting way that it comes out in circulation, I am happy! Like I said, they WILL earn, and keep earning. Rather than stay in their lockers and bank balances in India or outside India, if that money comes out in circulation, it is helping many others to make a worthwhile living.

Coming back to the conversation of Mukesh Ambani’s home, the cost of building it was said to be around Rs. 4,700 crores. That is the equivalent of 100 years of revenue of a mid-sized company employing a few hundred people! If that kind of employment and wealth distribution / circulation can happen via a single project, what’s wrong with that? If this had not happened, chances are that the money could have just been lying around in some bank locker! Who would it have helped then??

(I have a *different* objection to that house he has built – it is an eyesore – but that is a different point, anyway)

Microsoft chairman Bill Gates (R) and MuBeyond that spend on the house, if one was to contemplate for the Mukesh Ambani situation, what if at some point finally, the Bill Gates’ kind of viewpoint appeals to him? And he leaves enough but not obscenely high amount of capital for his future generations?! And which leaves him with a LOT of capital to do other things with. The kind of challenge that Bill Gates is working with. So what would he do with all that money? What COULD be do with it?

Well, if anyone can do tremendous benefit to society, with so much wealth, it is Mukesh Ambani. Not just because he has wealth – many others do too – but he has the ability to manage projects of massive size, efficiently, where capital deployment can create significant impact! the-ultimate-leaders-manoj-modi

In Mukesh Ambani and his right hand man, Manoj Modi, we have a combo who can execute massive projects better than anyone else. Give them the challenges of the country – water and sanitation, girls’ education, modernising agriculture, disease eradication etc. etc., and they are totally capable to taking these on, at a country wide level, and making these happen! What a tremendous boon it would be for the country if they were to at some stage, leave the reins of the RIL business to some capable individual (will never be as good as they are, but that’s fine – see Bill Gates’ reference again!), and decide to deploy their wealth and time to doing good? And it would be a win-win-win all over..

– after a wonderful lifetime spent achieving fame and glory as successful businessmen, they can contribute back to society, and before they leave this world, they would have left a much larger imprint than having created a massive business enterprise,

– they would leave only adequate amount of capital for their future generations, which will ensure comfort, but may leave that much room to inspire the next-gen to continue to work hard, and not waste their lives,

– they would take on some of India’s massive challenges, which look almost not-solvable today, and actually create solutions, which their personal skills and abilities, along with their wealth, are capable of creating.

What more can you ask for in life?

Well, as I said, it is a dream, but it is worthwhile contemplation. Maybe the energy waves of my thoughts will reach them, and someday, this becomes a reality..?!

P.S. The reference to next generation of very rich people being spoilt or not motivated enough, is a generic one. In particular, I have no idea about Mukesh Ambani’s children and this is certainly not a personal reference to them!

I have been an owner of a Sterling Holidays Timeshare vacation plan, since about 1996-97. I have also opted for the RCI extension that comes with such timeshares, and have used the RCI membership for many a holiday, both in India as well as outside India, over these years.

For a long while in between, Sterling Holidays was in deep financial trouble, and I was wondering if my so-called 99-year membership plan, was going to die an early death. Somehow Sterling resurrected themselves, and stayed in business, and I could continue to get some benefit out of my membership.

Except for the initial 1-2 years, I have not used Sterling Holidays to actually stay at a Sterling resort.

Most of the holidays I have used are with RCI membership and at locations, outside of the Sterling resorts, and few times, outside India as well.

It has been a reasonably rewarding experience over the years, which is what you expect out of a timeshare membership.

In recent years, RCI has been constantly increasing their fees, and the exchange fees as well.

The RCI membership being of a shorter term nature each time, they have the right to revise their terms periodically, and I have accepted these changes over the years.

I have valued the fact that it is so simple to get a holiday set up.

1. Ask Sterling Holidays to deposit your week into RCI – a quick and simple affair.

2. Look for and find the RCI holiday you like. Get it, pay for it, and you are done.

The ease of usage, and the variety of RCI resorts that one had access to, still kept me going with RCI, in spite of the increase of their fees.

Recently however, when I was trying to follow the above-mentioned steps, I ran into problems with Sterling Holidays.

Here’s what happened:

1. I asked RCI to deposit my week from Sterling, as usual. They initiated the process.

2. Couple of days later, I get intimation that they could not do so, as Sterling had regretted the same.

3. I checked if I had paid my annual charges to Sterling, and I concluded that I had paid. So there should not have been any issue.

4. I waited for Sterling to get in touch with me, for reasons why they had denied the deposit of the week. NO such intimation came. I could have kept waiting for ever! Don’t think this regret from their end, triggered any process, to get in touch with their member..!!

5. Finally I got in touch with Sterling, and I was informed that I had to pay another charge now, when I am depositing the week. This was a new, new thing that had never happened before, and for which I had not got any prior intimation, so I was naturally not happy about it.

6. I asked them for details, which they provided on phone, and briefly on email, as this being a new process that they have initiated from April of this year, etc. etc.

7. So my point simply was:

– why did they choose to wait till I am depositing my week, to inform me about this??

– why is it not on any public platform, like their website, or their FB page?

– why was it not conveyed via email to the many members, or via a print circular?

– was this a trivial change? I am sure MANY members deposit their Sterling week, and claim a holiday via RCI. So if there are changes to the terms, and not an insignificant one at that, isn’t it their duty to intimate members proactively, when they initiate the change??

– more importantly, do they have a right to do this at all? There is a certain contract in place, where a fixed amount had been charged, and where a certain small, annual fee was expected to be paid thereafter. But each time you took a holiday via RCI, Sterling could charge you a certain extra – is that even allowed as per the contract?

– if so, how come for so many years, they never charged, and they are beginning to charge only now??

– and if they have charged a sum x this time, can they on their own whim, increase the charge to 2x or 3x in coming years?? After all, as they say, “terms and conditions are subject to change”! You have already paid the initial sum for purchasing the timeshare, now where can you go, except keep giving in to their demands like this??

8. The moot question at this point is, if a Timeshare membership in general, and a Sterling Holidays membership in particular, even worth taking?? If they retain the right to “change terms and conditions”, whatever it is that they promise through ads like the following one, can only be a lure to get you in. Thereafter, they could spring a surprise on you, and ask you for more money?!


9. Most importantly, does the economics of Timeshares work out then? Say, one takes a decent vacation only once in 3 years. Then, one is still paying annual fees to Sterling, annual fees to RCI, then an exchange fee to RCI when you take the vacation, and now the newly introduced additional fee to Sterling, to enable you to deposit the week, to RCI. All that against the cost of just booking a hotel and staying there? Is it viable or interesting at all?


bmb_titleI was in for a wonderful treat on the Sunday morning.

Yes, totally loved Bhaag Milkha Bhaag for many reasons!

I was reminded of ‘Chariots of Fire’, a film I had seen many years back, but which remains one of my favourite films till date. There is a certain excitement about stories based around sport, and Bhaag Milkha Bhaag, is of course, in that genre. The sweat and toil, the determination, the hard work, the competitiveness, the rivalry, all of these are emotional elements and they draw the audience in.

At the outset, here was an extremely talented team at work!

Starting with the director, Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra, one of the sharpest and most talented young filmmakers in Indian cinema today. I had found his first venture, Aks, to be a very interesting experiment. And then of course, Rang De Basanti was an iconic film. I had liked his next one, Dilli 6 also. So this one comes as yet another great piece of work by the young man. bmb_rom

His partner in crime from RDB and Dilli-6, Prasoon Joshi is very much present here as well!

He takes care of a super story, screenplay, dialogs and lyrics. His brilliance shows in all of these aspects!

Binod Pradhan does a fabulous job with the camera, especially on some scenes filmed in Ladakh. Shankar Ehsaan Loy put together a very credible composition for the times when the story has been based.

That’s an awesome team working at the back.

Of course, the one hero is the original story, and the man himself, the Flying Sikh, Milkha Singh!

It is amazing to see and note the life that he lived.

A child of the partition days, he saw the extreme pain and angst of separation, was brought up in very tough environs, took to stealing coal to make some money, and from that kind of background, emerged to be one of the best athletes that India have produced, and perhaps one of the best sportspersons that India has every produced. Now that’s quite a rollercoaster of a life!

Kudos to Farhan Akhtar for delivering Milkha Singh to us!


His is an absolutely brilliant performance. He has clearly put in massive effort to get it right. From the physical development, to the running style, the look, the accent, the Punjabi language, the dancing.. everything. And he delivers well on all of these. Clearly, he seems to be the perfect fit for this role.

Some great shots he delivers include the extreme face crunching pain that he feels as he runs hard on the tracks, or when (the many times) he falls and gets hurt, or his scenes with his sister, or the time when he returns back to his old home in Pakistan, or when he comes back with his medals and gives a medal to his first coach and falls at his feet, etc. etc. All great scenes, very well acted!!

There are good supporting performances from Pawan Malhotra and Yograj Singh as the coaches, and Divya Dutta as Milkha’s elder sister.

Divya Dutta and Pawan Malhotra were in Rakeysh’s Dilli-6 too, and are also two really good supporting actors, who leave their mark, even in short roles.

Sonam does not have much of a role in the film.

The young boy who plays Milkha Singh as a child also delivers a fantastic performance.

It was very interesting to see the country glued on to the radio when Milkha Singh was taking on his Pakistani counterpart, and when he emerges winner, the kind of celebrations that India witnesses, were bigger than what we see these days, when India beats Pakistan in a cricket match!

Overall, Milkha Singh’s story is told very well, in interspersed flashbacks, in almost a similar way that Mehra had mixed the characters and story of India’s pre-independence revolution with modern day characters in Rang De Basanti.

In summary, this is clearly the best film to be released so far in 2013. There is a good chance that the Best Director award for the year is already decided in favour of Mehra, and even if that were to be in doubt, rest assured that the Best Actor award’s a taken now! Others will be competing for 2nd place to Farhan Akhtar.

Not about the movie, but here are some life lessons that one picks up from the movie:

1. Sometimes there is a deep rooted event or incident that provides the maximum motivation / drive

2. Everyone could screw up. Recognise what’s happened, refocus, ensure elimination of the screwup factor, and dedicate yourself back to the motive

3. It’s all about FOCUS.

4.There are no short cuts in life. Hard work, dedication, obsession about one’s goals.. that’s what it takes to succeed.

5. A good coach makes a huge difference

6. A good coach will drive you to your limits, as he knows what you are capable of, and wants you to deliver it all

7. You need to consciously switch OFF your distractions if you want to get your ultimate goal

Go, see Bhaag Milkha Bhaag.. !



My 5-year old nephew rambles away the popular tracks of Yeh Jawani Hai Deewani (YJHD) all day long. Finally, for his sake, we landed up in the theatre on the 2nd week Saturday, surprised to find a nearly packed cinema hall. Maybe YPD-2 had not struck a chord with the audience 🙂

By the time you are in the second week, you’ve already heard and read a lot about a movie, typically. So I had heard that “it’s a long movie”, that “it doesn’t have much of a story”, and even that “YOU won’t like it”.


I wonder about that last suggestion! Especially in hindsight after having seen the film. Wonder what made the person feel that I won’t like it. Whatever are the kind of signs I have given about the kind of films I don’t like (well, there ARE the obvious ones that I have shared, e.g. dislike science fiction, cartoons, and the like – this was none of those kinds..!).

These reactions had not clouded my expectations, just tampered them! Knowing the star cast, and knowing that it was a modern day setting, Dharma Productions flick, there would be certain good-feel factors like great locations, style, music, etc. And then anything else that is also good, will be a good bonus.

In reality, I found a lot of factors that worked for me, in the movie. And I quite enjoyed it, and would recommend as a good-see, to anyone who’s considering going for it.

While the story is so-so, there are very interesting characters.

Like the girl who’s always been a loner, focused on studies and topping classes, to some extent under the influence of her family, and to some extent maybe, because that’s what she’s always believed to be the right thing to do.

Till the time that she, perhaps for the first time in her life, takes an impulsive plunge to go on a trekking trip, and which becomes a life-changer for her. For being able to discover herself, for knowing that there is more to life than just being “proper”, that life is meant to have fun too.

Whether it is a trekking trip or some other significant moment in people’s lives, I have seen transformations of this kind, in people. And I can identify with this change. And it is so important to take those opportunities that come your way, and flow with them…

The transformation of Deepika’s character in this manner was a good moment, in the film.

I have never thought much of Deepika’s acting. Have thought of her as an average actor, at best. But she does a decent job here. Maybe the ‘coming-back-with-Ranbir’, even if it was just for the one film, worked well for her!

A lot of films with two stars, and two supporting actors, can leave the actors’ characters from showing up. Here we see a good glimpse of the desires, the emotions, the pangs, of the two supporting actors as well. Kalki and Aditya Roy Kapur, in that sense, have good roles and have done a decent job.

That brings us to the one star of the show. Ranbir Kapoor is awesome.

Here’s one more after Wake Up, Sid, Rockstar and Barfi, where he gives an outstanding performance.

He can act with his face, the expressions tell a story. His appearance looks so real with the character he plays.

And he can dance.

Yes, he’s got it in the genes from Rishi, and then he’s gone and improved upon them. Amongst the young breed (and I would classify Hrithik as not-so-young now), he is clearly ahead of the pack, where dancing goes. Perhaps also where acting goes.

The character he plays is one that we’d find amongst the youth today. Not everyone, but not exactly a rare breed.

One who has the confidence to NOT do the typical. One who feels that this is the one life, and one must fill it with the best of times and the best of moments, and live it to the fullest. Why must you be like everyone else?

Very interesting attitude. The film makes it appear to be a little selfish, and there is a degree of self-doubt towards the end. But it is an amazing feeling. Which travel enthusiast sitting in the cinema would have not drooled over the offer to be in 4 different cities of the world for 3 months each, and also be paid for it?! Clearly an aspirational character in a way.

The locales are well chosen, from Manali to Paris to Udaipur, and many others, there are some lovely scenes for the eyes to satiate.

The music of Pritam is good. Many of the songs are very hummable.

Last but not the least, it is always so awesome to see Madhuri Dixit on screen. She continues to amaze with her dancing, and retains her magical smile. Wish she returns for a longer role in some film soon.. ! She gives grace to what could have been other terms, just another ‘item song’!

It IS somewhat long as a movie. 3 hours all in all, inclusive of the interval. But quite an enjoyable three hours overall.

Did you see it too? What did you think about it?

N. Srinivasan has called a press conference at 4 pm today, few hours before the IPL final. Everyone is perplexed as to the reason for this press conference, and the timing of it.

Is he going to announce his resignation? Is he going to spill all the beans finally? Is he going to share the news that his daughter has filed for divorce? So we asked the fly on the wall in the Srinivasan household, and this is what he had to share:
“There was a lot of deliberation in the Srinivasan household. Srinivasan and his supporters have been analysing the situation that has emerged in the last few days, in great detail. All the ire from people, media, politicians, bookies, underworld etc. have all been discussed at length, to figure out what the real challenge is about, and what should be done next.

After a lot of deliberation, it was determined and concluded that the main reason people felt let down was that the field was not a level playing one!
Guru’s calls went to Vindu and from Vindu, the information went only to a few select bookies. Those bookies and their customers benefited, while the rest of the people suffered due to not having the necessary information.

This was the great injustice that needed to be fixed (pun unintended). Like a company needs to make the necessary disclosures to the stock exchange, so that all shareholders and the public are equally aware, so also, if any facts are to be shared, these should be shared equally with all, and not selectively.

Recognising that to be the problem of the past, and wanting to ensure that this does not repeat for the final also, Mr. Srinivasan is taking this press conference at 4 pm, to share the information equally.

What the final composition of the CSK team will be? Who will open the batting, the bowling? What the roles of the umpires are going to be? How the pitch is? In which over, how many runs are expected to be conceded? Who’s going to drop some catches, who’s going to do crucial misfielding? And most importantly, who is going to win?

With all that clarified 3-4 hours before the game starts, it now becomes a level playing field, and everyone can place their bets with all this relevant information.

That way there will be no complaints anymore, and this controversy will die down.”

So said the fly on the wall.
So you know now, what to expect in the press conference at 4 pm today..

Newspaper headlines, TV debates and the scores of opinions on social media would have us believe that a country of a billion people was betrayed in one shot, yesterday!

When the IPL Spot Fixing scam broke out, and 3 cricketers including one who had played for India earlier, were arrested, it has given the impression that God has fallen from His High pedestal. That it is a day of national grief, and cricket and India will never be the same again.


Calls of banning the cricketers for life, to having them arrested, to scrapping the current series of IPL, to holding BCCI and it’s officials accountable, to including the franchise owners to take blame, and many many more such demands have been doing the rounds.

Going against the tide, the way I see this episode is that, way too much is being made out of this incident. And I have many reasons to support this point of view of mine:

1. This is not an Olympic Sport. People are not playing for their country. This is a sporting event whose main aim is to ENTERTAIN. Especially when the 3-hour version of the sport has emerged, it has gone squarely into the sweet spot of entertainment, and actually competes with films and music shows and the like. To entertain people (in fact, film releases are delayed due to this competitive factor!).

So if this game is meant to entertain people and as long as it is doing so, why complain??


2. I have given this analogy before. I give it again.

When you go to see a film, and the story evolves, you sit there with bated breath, wondering “what will happen next”. The fact of course, is that the story has already been written, enacted and recorded. “Someone” already has decided what will happen next. Only YOU are discovering it for the first time. And you have enough intrigue and feel enough excitement, as it unfolds for you.

You don’t say that Aditya Chopra must be banned or Balaji Telefilms must be banned because they are showing us a story which they have pre-planned, and make us feel as if it is happening in real time!

If we are fine with films or television in terms of such entertainment, why not accept the same in T20 cricket too?


3. For many of us, there was an iconic moment in life, that evening of 1983, when Kapil Dev lifted the World Cup of cricket, at Lord’s.

We enjoyed the excitement, we enjoyed the victory.

What if a scam broke out today that revealed that bookies had paid Viv Richards to throw away his wicket and that led to India emerging victorious?!

For all of us who enjoyed the drama in real time, would it take away that pleasure which we felt in 1983??


4. So if we appreciate the brilliance of acting when Aamir Khan plays Rangeela or Amitabh plays Inspector Vijay, and we think of them as the character and find them believable, we can also admire a Sreesanth, who makes it appears that he’s actually bowling bad, and giving away runs.

I mean, if he also shows emotions of frustration when he gets hit, and appears believable, isn’t he doing as much of a good job as Aamir Khan or Amitabh, to entertain us?? What’s wrong with that??


5. Yes, it would become a sham if every catch was dropped and only lollipop balls were bowled, and the entire game became a festival match. THEN of course, the crowds will go away. But as long as some doses of drama are being injected, and appearance is maintained of a hard-fought game played with a key competitive spirit, what’s wrong with it??


6. For a moment, let’s take the conspiracy theory a step forward.

That more or less, the entire league has a concept of fixing. And the fixing is being done for purpose of maintaining a sense of excitement in the games and the league. Which then brings viewers coming back, and which also keeps the TRPs up, and the advertisers and the broadcasters happy.

Supposing this was done right through the league, and which is why, we had so many close finishes, and also that, till the very end, there is a certain openness about who will get into the last 4. And which in turns, ensures few dud games, and the TRPs are maintained.

This is easily conceivable.

So what, I say??

As long as we didn’t know about this, we were enjoying it completely. Everyone was happy – the cricketers, the spectators, the TV viewers, the advertisers, the broadcasters, the BCCI..

And now, say, we know that it was “fixed” to an extent.

So what has changed?

We are betrayed. We walk away from the game. Advertisers go away. The entire league comes under a challenge. And that helps whom??

From win-win to lose-lose??


Rest assured, I am not at all sarcastic here. I truly believe every word I have written here.

For all I know, and all I care, most professional sport may have small or high degree of fixing. But the role of those sports have always been to attract viewers and entertain them. And they are doing a good job of it.

Supposing there was no fixing, in the IPL. Everything was played fair and square. What if we got:

– Pune vs Punjab emerging as finalists, on merit. Where are the stars? How does this ensure viewership?

(just an example – nothing personal against Pune or Punjab!)

– teams scoring 120-130 in the first innings, and the team batting second folds up for 80 in 15 overs. How interesting would that be?

– within the first half of the league, the better teams have won enough to seal their place in the last four, and the others have got to a point where the knock out stage is beyond their reach? What excitement will be left in the balance games??


I believe that there have been elements of fixing in the game, for many years, and especially from the time that one of our erstwhile current experts, used to be a player! (the one who claims to have been “so shocked” by the happenings yesterday).

We did not know about most of those. It has all been a well-kept secret. Everybody is happy and spectators have been entertained.

Why break that comfort zone? Enjoy the sport, be entertained.

We’d rather watch this than watch some more saas-bahu stuff, and we’d rather ensure that IPL keeps the next Himmatwala type films from hitting the theatres!!

What do you say??



Lot of people are taking inspiration from the JPC.

Seeing the expeditious manner in which they complete investigations against fraud and scam from their very own group members, others have been motivated as well.

Why, they say, should they also go to police or regulatory bodies or the CBI or some ombudsman, when they can themselves investigate and settle matters out? Like the JPC so capably does.

So here are a few such committees being formed now..

  1. The Importers’ Association of India is forming the Joint Importers Committee (JIC) to investigate against any customs duties violations or possible smuggling in of goods, by fellow importers.
  2. The Stockbrokers Association of India is creating a Joint Brokers Committee (JBC) to investigate insider trading (who needs SEBI??)
  3. Sonography Practitioners of India are creating a Joint Sonography Team (JST) to investigate female foeticide complaints
  4. Manufacturers’ Association of India is starting a Joint Manufacturers Committee (JMC) to check on excise evasion frauds and complaints
  5. Chemical Industry Association of India decides to create a Joint Chemical Businesses Committee (JCBC) to check on environmental damage complaints of chemical factories.
  6. Al-Qaida and the Global Mafia Forum have created the Joint Terrorism Committee (JTC) to identify bombers and terrorists in any global terrorism activity

It is heard that many more are coming up in the same lines, indicating a generally high level of introspection by the human being, and identifying of faults within, thereby not requiring external forces to do so.

Meanwhile, in other news, the policemen’s union had an emergency meeting threatened as they were, by potential job loss if this trend were to continue..


I do represent a certain demography of a consumer. And while I may a little atypical in my spending habits, even for my own demography (I would like to believe that!), yet, I do have a certain “purchasing power” and I do buy brands and there will be brands wanting to reach me!


Now if you add the consumer market that my family also represents, in addition to my own, we would be a group that would interest several brands.

Then, as I share my media consumption pattern, this post should interest those brands who would like to reach out to us. I know, as a brand marketer myself, I would love to know similar traits for the consumers I am trying to reach for my client’s brands!

The thought to put this together came as I pondered over my vastly changed media consumption patterns. And I figured that if a brand was trying to reach me, they would have had to make a lot of changes over the years, to keep pace with my changes!

So here are my personal highlights:

  • I have stopped watching news on television for a few years. Not at all. None. Zilch. So brands, if you want to reach me, don’t waste advertising money there! 
  • I have stopped opening the tabloid, Mumbai Mirror (although it comes free) for more than a year, and for last 6- months, I have also not opened the Bombay Times, and saved myself time, and kept my sanity for a little longer
  • There was a time when I used to read the Times of India, nearly cover to cover. Not any more. Out of habit, I still pick it up. Days are when I spend 5-10 minutes on it, and there are days when I can do with 30 seconds of the paper. And no real difference, either ways.
  • In earlier days, when I would travel, I’d come back and catch up on the Mumbai edition of the Times of India. Even if it was an 8-day trip, I would diligently go over the papers, as a ritual. Now I never do this.
  • If I am in a rush in the morning, and I have not seen the paper, it does not matter now. In the whole day, I would not even realize that “hey, I have not read the paper today!”
  • Unless there is a VW speaking ad or something quite as astounding, I am completely blanked out to ads in the paper.
  • I certainly do NOT bother to look up the classifieds or the small ads. They may as well not be there. In fact, it helps me to see a page full of such ads. Enables me to quickly jump over that page, without a second lost.
  • I run through the pages of the Economic Times very quickly. Again, will not miss it, if I did not manage to see it some day. As it happens. On an average, there may be no more than 1-2 articles that hold even a small interest for me.
  • Time was when policy changes were very frequent, and one had to read the business papers lest one misses out on some important notifications. The same is not the case these days. On the one hand, there is a reasonable stability in policy, and on the other hand, we have a government that anyway does not do much 🙂
  • The Sunday Times supplement is a 3-second flip over for me.
  • The Corporate Dossier and the Brand Equity supplements with the Economic Times, on the other hand, do promise occasional value, and I may read through a bunch of content in those
  • That leaves the Mint. The weekday editions, like the Economic Times, do not mean much. A quick glance over is all that it merits.
  • But the Mint Lounge on Saturdays is still the one paper I do love. And I end up reading a good 50% of that content, typically.
  • Television programming consumption has not died yet, and I do have a few favorites that I still catch up on. However most of the TV viewing is via DVRs, as recorded programming. And then, I have a remote control in my hand, with a FF button on it. So ads are safely skipped. Also since a lot of the viewing is on HD TV, and there are few brand ads there (there are channel program ads a plenty – that’s how I’ve got sick of watching KBC ads, for example!) anyway.
  • The only live TV I might have watched, would be sports. But I cannot suffer cricket matches anymore, and while I keep in touch with the game to an extent, I do NOT watch live cricket games. Except for the rare Sunday game, when there may be nothing else going on in life. Which is rare, as rare can be!
  • On the streets and at airports waiting for flights, there are devices in the hand. In the car, usually on the back seat, the “office is almost on”. Yes, the laptop is open and work is happening. Which is why I do not fret the traffic much. It does not matter to me. I am working as always. So it can be the laptop, the iPad or the iPhone that keeps me busy (yes, “no time to stand and stare” and all that, unfortunately..) on the road, at airports etc. So the OOH advertising is again lost on me. Typically.
  • I detest telemarketers. I threaten them with dire consequences for calling me in spite of being on DND. I do not have the patience to even listen to their brief pitch. So telemarketing is lost on me. Don’t even try.
  • In spite of a lot of filters, some direct emails do penetrate into my inbox. If the creative is interesting and the message has some relevance to me, I may tolerate it and give it a glance. Recognise that few such emails come into my system, thanks to a reasonable anti-spam setting. And hence I am tolerant for those few. If there were large numbers coming in, I would have been harsher with them!
  • So where are my eyeballs and where is my interest? Yes, you guessed right. On the computer, on the Internet, and usually in social media space. Yes, my profession is partly a reason for this. But well, I am there now. So if you are a brand and looking for me, you know where to find me, most of the day. That does NOT mean that you spam me randomly on LinkedIn (I report a lot of spam on LinkedIn) or just dump advertising messages on me, as your Facebook posts, or @ me on Twitter with your brand junk. No, that will surely not work. But if you are subtle, give me value over this media, that can be bait for me!

So there, I have told you a lot about me. I am not sure if this is very unique to me, especially for my generation. I know many others who are losing patience with newspapers and recognise that most stories in the papers have an “agenda” and are typically planted! Many have also lost hope in TV News. But they have not deserted it yet. I keep reading cuss words for many of the news anchors on Twitter. I do not cuss them anymore because I have eliminated the Rajdeeps and the Barkhas and the Arnabs from my life. They don’t matter, in this busy life, they don’t deserve my precious minutes or attention.


And as for my family?

My daughters represent the “youth” that all brands seem to be going after.

They spend 10-15 seconds on Mumbai Mirror and Bombay Times every other day. They take a quick glance at page 1 of the Times of India – because it is there on the table. Don’t think they’ll miss any of these, if they stopped coming.

They do watch some TV, but it is always recorded. They have even less patience for advertising and are faster on the draw, to the FF button. They also see a lot of content on YouTube and Torrent downloads.

The only hope for brands in traditional media mood, is my wife. Yes, she does see TV News occasionally (I am not in the room) and does take a few minutes over the Times of India, Mumbai Mirror and Bombay Times. In fact, she recounts the odd interesting story from these, to me. And she does see and notice some of the ads there too. And shares details of some good offers, with me too.

But broadly speaking, if you are a brand, you will realize that your continuing spends on TV or print, are more of a waste, especially if you are trying to reach people like me. You really do need to think differently, you need to divert budgets into other places!

And should you continue to invest in traditional media, and traditional placement, and if you see dwindling returns, don’t tell me that I did not warn you?!!

I change my Facebook Display Picture, also known as the DP, every once in a while.

There is no system, no pattern, no specific period. Just when I feel like it. Perhaps when some new photos have been taken, and I find one of those interesting enough, to make it my DP.

Most times when a new DP is chosen and the update goes out, there are a few likes, a few comments, on that post.

A very typical reaction, that one.

However this time, it was different.

Few days after the Social Wavelength party recently, I put up one of my photos taken then, as my DP. This was the photo that I used:

The responses I got on putting this photo as my DP, were truly surprising.

While there were the usual likes and “nice pic” kind of comments, there were other stronger reactions.

One of my friends wrote: “Hate”

Another said “it was a bad ass photo”

I was told via a comment that “a person of my stature should not be endorsing smoking..”

Again, another said, “Bad message, Sir..”.

Besides the few comments on FB, there were three direct messages on FB suggesting that I should remove this pic.

And TWO SMS messages too!

And finally since Diwali was just following, there was a card that I got, where a dear relative also added her wish, that “may I give up smoking this year”.


Yes, I do smoke the cigar, perhaps 3-4 times a year. Okay, at most 6 times a year. But that’s it.

I don’t smoke cigarettes. And I smoke nothing else, the whole of the rest of the year.

So the reaction, on Facebook, via SMSes, and that card, were all surprising, to say the least.

It was not the first time that I have used a pic with a cigar on Facebook. There have been other photos in the past such as:

At no time in the past, have I got anywhere close to the kind of reactions that I got this time.

So I wondered about the possible reasons. What’s changed this time?

  1. Is it really about some kind of stature thing, and giving some kind of message?
  2. Is the anti-tobacco consciousness grown a lot more, and people are just a lot more verbal with their strong views, which they express now?
  3. To my smoking the odd cigar or to my putting up some kind of photos, I had always got reactions from my very close family in the past. But this time, it was beyond the close family. So I wonder if the regular exchange that we have on this medium, on various topics, makes a lot of us “feel” closer in terms of our relationships? Do we feel it to be okay to make some suggestions / comments to our friends, which earlier might have been a little more ‘personal’ type, in nature?
  4. Do these people just care for me a lot? All of those who said that the pic was not good, are very dear friends. And they are my well-wishers too. So it could easily have been their genuine caring for me, to want me to not indulge in habits of this kind.

I am not sure what was or were the reason(s) for the responses that I got.

I considered changing the DP quickly, on reading those responses. But I did not change it.

At one level, I do want to be free of the ‘responsibility’ that my actions need to be a “message” for others. I certainly want to live life on my terms, as much as possible. If I had taken off the pic immediately on seeing those reactions, I would have placed myself in the position of having to keep a certain appearance. Which is largely acceptable to others. But which I may NOT be.

I did not want to go there.

Just because social media makes us a little more visible (of course, to the extent that one desires oneself to become) does not mean that one’s every move needs to be subject to scrutiny.

For the record, I do NOT smoke all year / all day round, as I have clearly mentioned.

I do NOT believe smoking does any good to people. I am concerned about the number of people in our office who smoke a fair number of cigarettes daily. I am concerned for them, for their healths, for their future. I wish they’d start giving up the habit.

For now, I still retain the desire to have an occasional cigar, and indulge to that extent. I may choose to give it up some day. That day hasn’t arrived just yet..

Oh, and by the way, I HAVE changed the display picture now.. much after the reactions came!