Saturday, November 18, 2006

Nobody writes about Copper Chimney

This is a messy post. Because it draws from a number of disparate incidents and conversations, and somehow attempts to link them together. I have no clue if it will turn out coherent and lucid, but I have the structure of a post in my head and have decided to carry on, regardless.
I’ll go chronologically.
About a year and a half ago, at an event organized by exchange4media, Ajay Chacko of TV18 commented on the challenges that media products faced, and on what, he felt, could differentiate one from another. It’s a statement that’s stuck in my head, and I reproduce what he said to the best of my memory. “The environment throws up a finite number of news story opportunities. What will differentiate one media product from another is the choice of stories and the treatment of the chosen stories.”
Last Wednesday, Brand Equity did a story on Omnicom that horrified me, in that the story was speculative at best and irresponsible at worst.
Earlier today (Saturday) I had a beer with someone aggrieved by the Brand Equity story (the reason I do not mention his name is to avoid suggestions of name dropping, but he will stand by my recounting of his statement).
He wasn't really aggrieved, but definitely irritated. His point was that nothing Brand Equity reported or avoided reporting would stop the growth and stability of the brand he was custodian of.
And the final disparate link is a conversation I had with Pradeep Gidwani (formerly CEO of Foster’s India) of Red Bull, Asia Pacific at Toto’s bar in Bandra, Mumbai. He was marveling at how nothing had changed in Toto’s in the last ten years.
And we got to talking about talking up brands. And we spoke of Indigo, and of Poison, and of Enigma and Club 9. And then he said to me. “Nobody writes about Copper Chimney. But it’s always full.”
And we spoke of the clubs and bars and restaurants in Mumbai that were “talked up” by the media in the last decade, and tried to think of the ones that were still alive.
Very few of the “talked up” ones, but many of the igonored-by-page-3 ones.
Toto’s and Copper Chimney do not NEED to get written about, because the products are sound. Media can talk up and talk down brands, but the final judgment will be made by a consumer.
And this is where media products will have to take a call: do they cover what they consider to be “happening” even if there is no product promise, or do they cover "boring", but intrinsically stable and strong products?
Pressures of competition cause decision makers in newspapers, news magazines and news channels to search for the differentiator in Chacko’s aforementioned finite number of story opportunities.
And bad and irresponsible and motivated choices can deliver short-term gains in readership/viewership but long-term losses in credibility.
And the decision could create either a sustainable wall that competition will not be able to breach, or a small little entry that could, tomorrow, become a floodgate.
The choice in that decision belongs to the editors.

Sadly, in many instances in Indian media houses, it also belongs to marketers.

Photo credit: Drona, whoever he may be, found on Flickr


Anonymous said...

'a' beer? you're a funny man but this has got to be the funniest yet.

Anonymous said...

of course copper chimney is always 'full'. some newer places (and bar-b-q nation springs to mind)have caught on to why it's always full and are following the formula: so-so ambiance+food for the masses (so so food)= recycling of per table several times a night, lots of people. nothing to write home or is there? any idiot child will tell you this.
toto's is a landmark place. it will always be full. until and unless 'shantaram-2' is set there no one will 'write it up'.