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Degrees of Separation and Empowerment

Posted by Navin Harish - 2 Comments

In Ogilvy on Advertising David Ogilvy talks about the time when he had gone to present an ad to a client. The client liked it and called his junior to take a look at it as well. While looking at the ad, he took out his pen, obviously to make a change but even before he could open he pen, his boss stopped him “Put that pen back in your pocket.”

“Teams from different functions should stick to what they do best and leave the creative delivery to the creative team. It is in the interest of the client, the creative team and your organization at large.”

With that said, I’d like to ask you how many people stand between your creative team and the client and have you empowered your creative team to ask the guys standing between them and the client to take a walk if the occasion arise?

I won’t say there should be no layer between the client and the Creative team. I am not even saying no one should review the work done by the creative team. What I am saying is the creative work should be reviewed objectively and not be judged by personal opinion.

I keep deviating but this reminds me of another thing I want and share with you before I move on. In a one day cricked match, Shane Warne walked to bat at number 3 or 4. The commentator said “You send in a pinch hitter up the order to score a few runs quickly so your team can consolidate on it and the player goes in, takes time to settle and start thinking of himself as a batsman. This defeats the whole purpose.

More often than not this is what happened when different functions are involved in reviewing the creative work. There are six degrees of separation between you and a complete stranger sitting on the other side of the planet but sometimes there are more degrees of separation between you creative team and a person they are working for – the client.

The more people that are involved, the bigger the problem. While on one hand it eats up your men hours, it also dilutes the message that is to be delivered. Design by committee has often been criticized by a lot of people so I don’t want to go there. Another negative effect it has on your creative team is apathy. When a creative team feels their work is anyway going to be dissected by so many people they are quite likely to lost interest and do something mediocre and then just wait for the inputs and make the suggested changes. “Why should we screw our brains when the final work is not going to be what we will suggest” is the most dangerous attitude your team can have.

Teams from different functions should stick to what they do best and leave the creative delivery to the creative team. It is in the interest of the client, the creative team and your organization at large.

There is a creative team that should be doing the creative work, the marketing team or the HR team or the Finance team should not start thinking of themselves as creative people and start offering a critique on the work of creative team. They should only evaluate a creative work by how effectively is it communicating the intended message. “I think Green will look better than the blue”. Really? May be you should consider painting your bedroom green.

So the next time you see someone taking out a pen, you know what to tell them.

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My son has graduated and he is only 5

Posted by Navin Harish - 4 Comments

Graduation is what we usually associate with College. The word was given a whole new meaning when Manu started attending the Montessori section of Ryan International School about two years ago.

Manuraj and Kalpana Lajmi on Graduation Day

Manuraj along with other Graduates on the podium. Next to him is Kalpana Lajmi, his teacher Miss Jayashree and John Abraham.

John Abraham giving Manu a bear hug

After the photo op John carried Manu…

John Abraham carrying Manu off the podium

…and took him off the podium and carried him off

There is a graduation day celebrations when the kids move from Montessori section to the primary school. Last year too we attended it since Manuraj was performing with his class. This year was special since he was among the kids graduating to the Primary school.

Check from 0:18 to 0:20. Check the face of John as he pulls Manu’s cheeks. The camera shake after that was because I was laughing.

Keeping in mind that last year we had to sit one of the rows towards the back, we started early and managed to get a seat in the middle. 15 minutes more and e would have to watch the ceremony standing up or sitting in the aisles.

Manuraj got his Degree from Kalpana Lajmi and later got his cheeks pulled by John Abraham who later carried him from the podium to the end of the stage. I was lucky to have captured both the things and although Manu doesn’t seem to be too excited by this, once he is a little older, he will cherish these videos and stills more fondly.

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The Bare Minimum

Posted by Navin Harish - 1 Comment

A post by Seth Godin covered the same topic. I wanted to share some examples with you.

I was having a conversation with someone who said “A week after Tuborg, Kingfisher will also launch a cap like Tuborg. It took Kingfisher a little longer than a week but sure enough they launched Kingfisher Ultra with the same cap.

Kingfisher Ultra using the same cap as Tuborg

Kingfisher could have introduced those caps or the twist to open caps earlier was well but there was no incentive for doing so since no one else offered anything like that.

Same is the case with all major Jeans manufactures in India. You can go to the store Levi’s Lee, Wrangler, Pepe or any other brand, pick up a pair of jeans and check its length. It will be 34. Then you can pick another, then another till you have checked all the jeans in the store and without an exception ALL of those will be 34 inches in length.

The same brands are offering different lengths in jeans in other markets like US and Europe. In India what are they waiting for, someone else to take the initiative.

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Beat up couples, burn cinemas

Posted by Navin Harish - 3 Comments

You feel life sucks if you have to work on a weekend. Think about all the Shiv Sainiks and MNS people who have to not just work today but have double the work load.

The Valentine’s day was bad in itself and it has coincided with the movie My name is Khan. People from Shiv Sena and MNS now have to vandalize theaters screening My name is Khan before they have to go out and beat up couples. Anyone walking holding hands is a target. I am thankful that I am safe because of Manu, I won’t have dared to step out of home just with Mira.

The moment Sena has a disagreement with some one, instead of even trying to sort it out, they go out vandalizing public property, disrupting traffic and burning buses.

Thinking about My name is Khan, I think the sena people will focus on Valentine’s Day tomorrow and attend to Mr. Khan on Monday when the three day police cover to the cinemas expires.

I remember an episode of Seinfeld where he asks why the car alarms are like the way they are, start screaming like a lunatic as soon as one touches the car. Why can’t they be more like people who would have a little subtle reaction to begin with like clearing one’s throat or saying “excuse me”.

The same is the case with both Senas, the moment they have a disagreement with some one, instead of even trying to sort it out, they go out vandalizing public property, disrupting traffic and burning buses.

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Are you focused?

Posted by Navin Harish - 2 Comments

Would an bollywood extra get a leading role?

Would you buy a pair of shoe made by the cobbler who sits outside your building?

Would you ask the roadside vada-pao vendor to cater to your next party?

The answer to all the above questions is “unlikely”. Perception is more real than reality and although the people mentioned above may have the capability to play the lead role or to make better shoes then Gucci or cook better food than your regular caterer but they are not perceived as such so they will find it very hard to break that image.

Same is the case with your company. If you aim to do bigger projects, you should stay away from the petty stuff no matter how hard it is to resist the temptation.

Sex appeal is 50% what you have and 50% what other think you have.

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Should you really be chasing that client?

Posted by Navin Harish - 2 Comments

Like everything else in life, the interactive work is available in varying quality. While it is easier to spot rotten apples before you make the purchase, it is not so easy to spot a poorly executed interactive project before even starting it.

Quite a few times we have lost clients because the price quoted by us was not the lowest. Last Saturday I called up a client who wanted a site to be done. We had met a few days ago and they wanted to get a site done in a very short deadline. To speed up the process, I provide them an approximate cost. When I asked about the price, he said it was too high “We have spoken to someone else and they are offering to do the same site for a much lower cost, they are charging less than 30% of what you are asking.”

What is important is how a website affects your bottom line. If your Profit and Loss account depends directly on the performance of your website, you will spend time in finding the right people to do it and pay them the price they ask for doing it. It is money well invested.

Do we charge too much? No, not at all. The price we quoted was based on the time required and the cost of that time for various profiles required for that project. The cost for the sale site done by anyone else should be same, give or take a small percentage. So how can anyone quote a price so much lower than ours? The answer is in selling rotten apples. We have seen in past, the work done by other agencies at a significantly lower price than ours never matches up with what we provide to our clients. The important question now is “does it really matter?”

Thinking about it, may the other agency was not selling rotten apples, maybe they were not selling apples at all. Let’s see how. I have seen ads for companies designing websites on a “per page basis” where the rates are as low as Rs.350/page and I often wondered how can those people managed to make a site for such a low price.

One day I got an SMS for designing a website for Rs.7500 and I decided to call. I asked how much a site for a photographer would cost and they gave me a reference of a website they did for a photographer. The cost of the site was Rs.20,000. Sure the site was not something even a half decent designer would be proud of creating but there it was. The website may have its problems but it served the purpose of the photographer who probably only wanted a site to showcase some of her work, have a bit of info about her and have a contact form. The other aspect of the site didn’t matter, neither to her, nor to her clients.

You see, what is important is how a website affects your bottom line. If your Profit and Loss account depends directly on the performance of your website, you will spend time in finding the right people to do it and pay them the price they ask for doing it. It is money well invested.

On the other hand if your business is not affected by the website, you won’t want to invest serious money in a website. You are making a website so you can have a URL in your business card; you know, to keep up with the time.

So the next time you get a call from a client who wants to have a website and wants to pay you 30% of your regular fee, ask yourself if it is worth chasing that client and trying to convince him why he should pay your fee, or is it better to look for clients who are already aware of the value you bring to the table and are willing to pay for it.

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What do you prefer, a one night stand or a long term relationship?

Posted by Navin Harish - No Comments

What do you prefer, a one night stand or a long term relationship?
In the 90s people believed that you get an idea, you take it to a Venture Capitalist, get funding and start an online enterprise and then somehow the money would just shower. This assumption proved to be wrong for most people. For a minority it worked, a minority that had a sound strategy and a strong revenue model. You see, to make the sales register go “kaching”, you need to put in a lot of thought.

You have to remember there is a difference between broadcasting and holding a conversation and while you are broadcasting in other media, online you have to engage people in a conversation if you want them to listen to you.

We don’t learn from our history even if the history in only 15 years old. A lot of companies have the same assumption about social media, you make a page on Facebook and a profile on Twitter and you are done. Now just wait for the entire online community talking about you. But guess what, the online community doesn’t give a fuck about you. Sorry, but that’s how it is.

This problem is made worse by professionals (though it would be wrong to call them professionals) who are interested in a one night stand. There are plenty of those around you who will offer to make a social presence for you for chicken feed. They don’t see beyond the immediate assignment.

Just like 15 years ago when you needed a revenue model for you online enterprise to succeed, you now need a communication strategy behind your social marketing effort.

Before you plunge into any social activity on the net for your company, pause and think why and how you use the social media yourself. Once you look for those answers, you will realize the chances of your twitter feed with products updates are roughly the same as a snowflake in hell. The people (not many of them anyway) are not interested in changes in the interest rates of your investment plans. However they will be interested in product neutral advise and insights.

The first requires very little effort if any but the second requires a fair amount or research and time.

You have to remember there is a difference between broadcasting and holding a conversation and while you are broadcasting in other media, online you have to engage people in a conversation if you want them to listen to you.

You are not a radio, you are a human being.

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Are we really so efficient?

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Faulty gas pedals has prompted Toyota to recall more cars than it sold it in 2009.

Toyota claims the Indian units are not affected. Surprising.

Why is that when a company recalls a product, be it a car, food, appliances or anything else, they never really have to recall it in India. I don’t recall the last time a product was recalled in India (except maybe the exploding batteries of Nokia phones).

Are we really so efficient?

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How do YOU define Brand Equity?

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Marketing and Research companies have quite a few yardsticks to measure the brand equity of a company.

I have a very simple way of measuring the brand equity of a company – how many mistakes you allow a company to make before dumping it.

Apple did things right mostly till the time they decided to launch the iPhone bundled with AT&T. Microsoft had to face a lawsuit for bundling Internet Explorer with Windows. It was criticized by almost anyone who walks on two feet but when Apple did the same things there were only a muted protest and that too by people who don’t like Apple. I hope you know that the Safari web browser is bundled in iPhone. Did I hear a voice of protest?

The other wrong thing was to launch the touch I pad and the iPhone with a memory of 8 GB and offering incremental memory increases which still are way below the 160GB – the highest capacity of a regular iPod launched by Apple.

Now comes the iPad. I still know a lot of people who are willing to forgive apple for all the drawbacks of iPad and still buy it.
How long before the apple user says “Apple, we need to talk…”

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Shiv Sena – an opposition Congress love to have

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“May be in the next elections we should vote for an opposition as well as a government.”

A government by the people, for the people of the people may be the most popular definition of democracy but in my opinion the most important aspect of a democratic government is the opposition.

The opposition keeps a check on the government; ensure that tit is periodically reminded of its purpose – to serve the people.

In Maharashtra the opposition largely has been and still is The Shiv Sena and now MNS to give it company and in my opinion, it’s the perfect opposition a government can ask for and that is why the worst opposition the public can ask for. An opposition that doesn’t want to think about the real issues of the state like the farmer suicides, the housing problems, the encroachments, the crumbling infrastructure, and water crisis but is always ready to create ruckus about things like comments made by Sharukh Khan on the Pakistani players in IPL, Rahul Gandhi on claiming Mumbai belongs to all Indians.

Makes the life of government very easy, doesn’t it?

May be in the next elections we should vote for an opposition as well as a government.

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