Saturday, May 26, 2007

Bangladesh too breaks record: 1,2,3 and 4 score centuries

Not to be outdone by India's batsmen becoming the first 1-2-3-4 to score centuries in Test cricket, Bangladesh's 1-2-3-4 bowlers have now conceded over 100 runs each. Dravid was kind enough to wait till Mohd. Sharif conceded 100 runs before he declared.

This test match is a great advertisement for cricket.


But I have nothing to do on a Saturday afternoon.

India breaks record: 1,2,3 and 4 score centuries

Maybe it’s only against Bangladesh, but for the first time in test cricket history have batsmen 1,2,3 and 4 (Karthik, Jaffer, Dravid and Tendulkar) scored centuries.

This is no lie or damned lie, it is a statistic.
And please remember, after their performance in the World Cup, Bangladesh are no longer minnows.
Numbers 1, 2 and 3 have done it 7 times in test cricket… including the Indian trio of Gavaskar, Srikkanth and Amarnath.

Another statistic? The record has been reported here before it has been reported anywhere else in the whole www.

As you can see, I'm not exactly busy this Saturday morning.

TV Polls stink, that's my opinion

The Onion

Study: 38 Percent Of People Not Actually Entitled To Their Opinion

CHICAGO—In a surprising refutation of the conventional wisdom on opinion entitlement, a study conducted by the University of Chicago's...

And when one thinks of all the polls done by all the news channels, newspapers, magazines and websites to arrive at amazing "opinions", I start believing that decision makers in media would greatly benefit from reading this article from the Onion.

That's my opinion. And after reading the Onion piece, I have no clue whether I am actually entitled to one.

Go on, click the link.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Cricket loses commentator to coke

Sad. With Maninder Singh busted for possession of cocaine, TV has lost a good commentator and a student of the game.
Because media has to be cruel, and will definitely put Maninder the media expert into cold storage.

Asia goes Liverpool crazy tonight

If you thought it unfair that we in India have to wait till past midnight for the Champions League final kickoff, spare a thought for Liverpool fans in Singapore, Djakarta, Hong Kong and Tokyo.

Soccer is exploding as a spectator sport in India, and I wait in anticipation of the ratings on Ten Sports for tonight's game. It will do better in SEC AB males than a number of the Cricket World Cup Super Eight matches, is my guess.

And for those who are interested, here are some interesting odds, courtesy Ladbrokes.

To win the game:
Milan 4/6
Liverpool 5/4

First goal scorer:
Kaka 5/1
Dirk Kuyt 8/1
Filippo Inzaghi 8/1
Alberto Gilardino 8/1
Steven Gerrard 8/1
Craig Bellamy 9/1
Peter Crouch 9/1
Ricardo Oliveira 9/1
Clarence Seedorf 14/1
Robbie Fowler 12/1
Harry Kewell 16/1
Yoan Gourcuff 25/1
Andrea Pirlo 16/1
Massimo Ambrosini 25/1
Mark Gonzalez 25/1
John Arne Riise 20/1
Xabi Alonso 25/1

How will the 1st goal be scored?

Right foot 4/7
Left foot 4/1
Header 11/2
No goal 11/2

And here are my predictions, and bugger the odds. Liverpool will win. Kuyt will score the first goal with his right foot.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

What's up at Haymarket?

This morning, I attempted to visit the web site for Haymarket Publishing -- and the site stubbornly refused to go beyond the frame that is reproduced above -- and the gif is called Haymarket_launch.

Intriguing headline. And, if you look at the copyright carefully, Haymarket is 50 years old this year. Or is it today?

A visit to the site,, a little later in the day might be worth one's while.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Web 18's gang of girls...

..., is now larger than Lever's

Web 18's strategy of focusing on communities (investors, cricket fans, commodity brokers, jobseekers and women, so far) through targeted verticals is obviously working well, if alexa ratings are anything to go by.

In the graph above, the blue worm is indiwo, and the brown one gangofgirls.
One day I'll figure out how to copy the alexa graphs with the legends.

Now, Rexona from Lever

What's common to new commercials of HLL's brands in India?

A one-second slate at the end displaying the HLL logo.

Commercials produced earlier continue to run without this slate, but one would presume that, over period of time, all commercials will follow suit.

Interesting, the highlighting of the mother brand in the TVCs. Will we see a larger logo presence in the packaging, and the leveraging of Lever?

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Flying Go Air not so smart; their PR not so smart

Last night, my colleague and I were on a flight from Delhi to Mumbai on Go Air. At a point went most passengers were on the bus ferrying them to the aircraft, the heavens opened to thunder, lightning, fire and rain.
The buses stayed where they were, and ten minutes later, Go made a terse announcement that the flight on which I was booked was cancelled. No mention of why, no mention of what passengers should do next.
The harried Go Air ground staff had no clue as to how to handle this mess, and irate passengers besieged the counters, in an attempt to bully the staff into somehow getting them to their destination through alternate airlines.
A half hour later, Go announced that the flight was un-cancelled, and that we would all go to Mumbai, and we did.
At the cost of another Go flight, which was cancelled. I have no clue what hell broke loose at the Go counter—but I have no doubt that hell would have broken loose.
But this is not a blog about my crib vis-à-vis Go.
This is about the absolute absence of the readiness of the airline to deal with the situation from CRM and PR perspectives.
It took me half an hour to figure out why the flight had been originally cancelled after boarding was announced, by probing and prodding.
It was because the freak storm had caused the step ladder to keel over, damaging the door to the aircraft.
Did anyone in the airline tell us that? No. Would most passengers have thought this was a perfectly justifiable reason for a flight to get cancelled or delayed? Yes.
What is it that prevented the airline from telling passengers the truth as soon as the reason for the delay was known? Especially since the truth would have saved the staff no end of passenger ire?
With the low cost airlines, delays and cancellations are fairly routine.
So why in heaven don’t they have a PR strategy in place to deal with predictable problems?
Not so smart.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Astute comment in ToI on Mallya's astuteness

This priceless gem from The Times of India report on Vijay Mallya's acquisition of Whyte & Mackay:

"Mallya, an astute observer of consumer behaviour, had figured out that the only missing link in his portfolio is Scotch."

Wow. That is a really astute observation, Times of India.

Man U to win FA; Liverpool to be Champions

There -- I've got it out of the way.
Here are my predictions for the two big football matches on the horizon.
I tip Manchester United to beat Chelsea in the final of the FA Cup this Saturday -- for only one reason. I don't like Chelsea.
And I tip Liverpool to beat AC Milan in the Champions League on the 23rd of May -- for only one reason. I am an unabashed Liverpool fan.
And If I'm wrong, remember that I am short on resources. All the newspapers and news TV channels polled tens of thousands of voters in the recently conducted Uttar Pradesh poll and predicted a hung assembly. And they were all wrong.
So there.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

What is it that pollsters do, please?

Yogendra Yadav, quoted in, explaining why the pollsters went horribly wrong in the UP elections.

"There are three reasons why the polls were so off the mark. First, there was a sampling error, especially in the exit polls. In an exit poll, you don’t choose the person you wish to interview. The voter chooses to walk to or walk away from the investigator stationed outside the polling station. Unless systematic precautions are taken, chances are that any exit poll will over-represent the well-off and upper caste and under-represent the poor and lower caste. This has resulted in systematic under-estimation of the BSP and over-estimation of the BJP over the last decade.

Secondly, there was a response bias. Those who voted for the BSP were less likely to say so to an outsider. Non-dalits who voted for the BSP may have been unwilling to admit it to themselves. This very unusual situation led to an over-reporting for the SP and BJP.

Finally, the vote-seats equation in UP turned out to be very skewed this time. For every one per cent of its votes, the BSP won 6.8 seats, compared to 3.8 for the SP and 3.0 for the BJP. This meant that the BSP won a large number of seats with very small margins. Even if you could foresee the exact vote share of the BSP, it was difficult to forecast the number of its seats."

First, sampling error. Second, response bias. Third, vote-seat equation skew.

And silly me. I thought these were the parameters pollsters took care of.

At least CNN IBN has admitted that they goofed. No one else has, till now.

Understanding toy market is no child's play

Bryan Stockton, Exec VP International, Mattel, quoted in this morning's Brand Equity:

"Interestingly enough, as parents are waiting to have children until they are a little older, there is more disposable income to spend on their children and we are seeing the benefit across the industry. In addition, grandparents are playing an increased role in toys as they are actually younger than the generations before them, and have more disposable income to spend on toys."

Therefore, older parents + younger grandparents is the magic formula.

That's great news for today.

However, this also means that the future is not too bright for toys, as the propensity to delay having children that the current generation seems to have will create older next gen grandparents.

One day, I will understand consumers and marketing. And research.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

WWWhere are you, Times Now?

The three home-grown English news channels, NDTV, CNN IBN and Times Now, according to various interpretations of the very same third party TAM data, are virtually neck and neck in the TRP stakes.
Why is it, then, that is such a laggard when it comes to the Internet offering?

In the graph above, (measured by Alexa) the brown worm is, the green one and the blue one

Considering the fact that The Times of India group owns, and that Reuters has considerable web experience to call upon, it shouldn't be too difficult to improve the Internet product significantly, should it?

Monday, May 14, 2007

India Today: keeping up with the Joneses

In today's media environment the competition is not limited to other titles in your defined and narrow space; you have to consider titles in other media as well.

Therefore, India Today, the weekly, competes not just with Outlook, but has to consider newspapers, the Internet, and news television as well.

So it is interesting that while India Today normally hits the stands on Friday, the weekly delayed this week's edition to Saturday -- which enabled them to cover the Mayawati victory on the same day as the newspapers and Internet portals did.

Outlook, India Today's "nearest" competitor, will cover Mayawati on the issue hitting the stands on the coming Friday -- a full SIX days behind.

Cool, India Today.

New, improved agencyfaqs

If you haven’t been to today, click on the link now!
It’s new and improved, with far greater readability. It’s refreshingly quick despite all the ads and has loads of interactivity including user ratings and comments.

Mumbai Mirror: An object lesson for city-centric news channels

Take a dekko at the front page of Saturday's Mumbai Mirror reproduced above.
I'd take a bet that this is the only English newspaper in India that has no mention of Mayawati and the UP elections on the front page.

That's why Mumbai Mirror has succeeded. It has been positioned as a city paper, and, whatever the situation, stays true to the positioning.

That's the challenge for the slew of city-centric news television channels that are due to launch. For them to have the conviction and steadfastness to prioritise for a city audience as opposed to a national audience.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

News Channels play Clue-Duh

It wasn’t Colonel Mustard with the lead piping in the conservatory that did in the news channels, it was Mayawati with the Dalit-Brahmin vote bank in Uttar Pradesh.
All the Hindi and English news channels (yes, all) got the results of the just completed UP elections horribly wrong, despite most of them claiming error margins of just a few percentage points during their final exit poll programming before the official numbers started coming in.
They all predicted a dead heat, when Mayawati romped home by a few lengths, making the BJP and the SP look like also rans when the channels tipped them to be joint favourites.
What went wrong with the fortune gazing? To go back to Cluedo, perhaps they were asking the wrong questions of the wrong people in the wrong rooms.
If the news channels were tipsters, the viewers were the punters – and now the viewers look like mugs.
And that’s something the channels need to worry about. Because it’ll be a snowy day in Mumbai before I take the shirt off my back to back a winner predicted by ANY of the Hindi and English news channel.

AB’s got to worry

Now the debate on the use of film stars as brand ambassadors can start afresh.
Amitabh Bachchan, arguably the most preferred brand ambassador that this country has produced, talks up Mulayam Singh’s cause during the election campaign to the Uttar Pradesh assembly elections.
And Mulayam Singh comes a cropper.
Consumers do see through communication and storyboards – and they have rejected AB’s plugs for the Samajwadi Party.
Arguably, the most significant failure of AB the brand ambassador. Worth chewing on.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Of KBC, cricket, STAR TV and Newscorp

For those who haven’t had the time to read the NewsCorp Earnings for Q3, here are two comments (italicised) pertinent to India:

“STAR’s third quarter operating income decreased from the same period a year ago as 11% revenue growth, primarily from higher advertising revenues, was more than offset by higher programming costs. The increased advertising revenue reflects the broadcast on STAR PLUS of Kaun Banega Crorepati 3, India’s version of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire.”

With KBC 3, the YoY the revenue growth is only 11%? No wonder the income decreases, as, surely, the cost of KBC 3 would have been significantly higher than the average programming costs on STAR Plus. The numbers beg the question – are the big ticket efforts like KBC worth the risk given the explosion of channels and the choices available to viewers?

“Operating results from the Other segment during the third quarter declined by $55 million primarily due to losses associated with the 2007 Cricket World Cup. These losses, which related to the final event under the Company’s programming contract with the International Cricket Council, were due to substantial advertising weakness as viewership declined with the early elimination of popular teams India and Pakistan.”

The poor performance of India (one wonders how much impact the elimination of Pakistan had on TV revenues – I doubt it could be as significant as the Newscorp comment) has affected not only Indian broadcasters but Newscorp as well – and perhaps it’s time to ponder more on the safety of putting money on cricket. Sports such as football, tennis, golf, F1, basketball and so on, are not impacted as significantly if a favourite is knocked out early in a tournament. The audiences (and, subsequently, the advertisers) are not overloaded in a single demographic as is the case with cricket. It will not be enough for the sport if the Indian team starts doing well again – cricket needs audiences in the rest of the cricket playing nations – especially audiences that will excite major advertisers and sponsors from Australia and England.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

OOH goes ouch in Mumbai

Here we go again. Mumbai’s corporators are proposing a censor board to ensure that “obscene” billboards are not put up in the city.
Also on the anvil is a ban on cigarette and tobacco brands using the medium.

The implications of the censor board concept? Every single creative will have to be cleared by the board before it makes its way to the hoarding sites. That will mean delays and/or corruption, and will prevent nimble tactical reactions like the one above.
There is no indication as to the composition of the proposed censor board – will it include professionals from the advertising and marketing fraternities?

Guess who’s making a killing from Spidey?

Lachlan Murdoch.

Lachlan Murdoch invests in a 30% stake in Shailendra Singh’s Percept Picture Company, which goes on to co-distribute Spiderman 3 in India. And Spiderman 3 goes on to break box office records, outdoing blockbusters such as Krish and Dhoom.
While NewsCorp has been more than a trifle slow off the blocks in the film production area (in India), PPC is surely not. Will the son outdo the father in the Bollywood stakes?

Monday, May 07, 2007

Will ex-Response get response?

Interesting party that one heard of.
Come the 11th of May, a gathering of former professionals from The Times of India's ad sales arm, Response, will meet at Mumbai's Seijo and the Soul Dish.

What's on the agenda, other than a decent piss up? I have no clue.
Will Pradeep Guha attend? Will G Krishnan? Will Kanta Advani? I have no clue.

But if you make a list of ex-Response staffers across the country, it would make a who's who of the ad sales professionals in the country.

And that makes the possibilities of the party, and of the agenda (if any) interesting.

Airbus PR takes off, then crashlands

Airbus manufactures the largest ever commercial aircraft.

They take journos on a junket, and New Delhi is one of the first stops of this juggernaut in Asia.

Every single news TV channel worth a cable feed covers the gig extensively, taking viewers on a guided tour of the tech marvel. Viewers are shown the plush interiors, the bar with the mood controls, the extra passenger comfort, the "greenness" of the aircraft.

Great PR, as only an Airbus or a Boeing could pull off.

Last night, an aircraft manufactured by Airbus' largest competitor, Boeing, is feared to have crashed somewhere in the Cameroons.

This morning, The Hindustan Times (Mumbai edition) sees both the launch of the new Airbus and the crash of the Boeing as being of more or less equal interest to their readers, and the evenhandedness shows in the layout of the front page reproduced here.

Will Airbus be happy? Will Boeing?
Could someone at HT have asked himself these questions?

Friday, May 04, 2007

Of the National Institute of Design and Rs 50000 crore and a worry

Last evening I learnt that my daughter had gained admission to the National Institute of Design, and I all but did a jig. Out of an estimated 8000 applicants, 75 (yes, 75, less than 1%) make the grade, and my daughter was one of them.
But that’s only the happily-ever-after part of the fairy tale.
My daughter attempted the exam last year, and didn’t make the cut. She joined a college in Mumbai, and tried the NID entrance again this year. A month ago, we learnt that she had passed the first hurdle – 247 of the original applicants were invited to a studio test and interview to Ahmedabad – and this number would get whittled down to 75.
75 seats in a country as large as India.
75 seats in design, of which just 10-15 are designated for communication design, when the Goafest talks of the advertising business growing from Rs 15,000 crore to Rs 50,000 crore.
75 seats in design when we have new products being launched every day, when retail is booming, the consumer class is exploding and purchasing power is at its highest.
If my daughter hadn’t got in this year, she would probably have gone on with life, and completed her Bachelors in Mass Media.
And of those who didn’t make it this year, the majority will find academic options outside of design. Some will become lawyers, some journalists, some researchers and so on.
Not because they no longer wish to pursue design, but because there are hardly any institutions in the country that teach design.
And this state of affairs is the same outside of design – engineering, hospitality, management, law, medicine, you name it.
And one worries, because educational institutes cannot be built in a day. If the shortage is so acute today, what will the children of tomorrow do?
And without an educated youth, where will India’s growth story go from here?
Cat Stevens worried about growth and children when he sang, “I know we’ve come a long way, we’re changing day to day, but, tell me, where do the children play?”

I’d worry more about where they would study.