Saturday, 8 December 2007
(Had written this for TOI four years ago. As you would notice, nothing has changed.)
After feng-shui, bowling alleys, thirsty ganpatis, names with six Ks, quiz shows and ABCD films, it's the turn of a brand new fad: Brand India. As they say, this, too, shall pass.
The idea was mooted in Ad Asia when industry bigwigs spoke on India as a brand and the media went ODing on Brand India, as if archeologists just discovered a goldmine inside Bangalore's Devanahalli call centre.
I think it's a mistake to promote India at this point of time. Because, as the legendary ad guru, David Ogilvy, said, "Nothing kills a bad product faster than great advertising." India is a substandard product. It's a condom that leaks, a toothpaste that leaves a bitter after-taste, a noisy car, a stained shirt, a sloppy airhostess and yes, yes, it's a chocolate with worms slithering inside.
Our infrastructure is a fricking mess, corruption has replaced oxygen, people burn each other alive in the name of religion, the No 1 national issue is whether to build a mandir or a masjid in a mofussil town, bandhs get called for no reason at all, and India's commercial capital has a brand new name: Slumbai.
Forget selling India, the brand, we have failed to sell India, the tourist destination. Most of the firangs who arrive here, face enormous hardships, just so they can momentarily partake of the magnificence of the Taj.
And we just had a CM who was all set to write the obituary of the one monument that earns us foreign exchange, the nation's last known asset. The bitter truth is, techies like Infosys & Wipro have done well despite the nation, not because of it.
Birla says, "We have to stop skepticism and focus on the positives. There is a general tendency to focus on the negatives." Hullo Sirji, it's all very well to focus on our strengths, I like that, but how long will you shove the rats under the carpet?
What is the use of making power presentations inside the boardrooms of New York and Tokyo, encouraging firangi CEOs to visit, and then have their crotches grabbed by naughty hijras on the crumbling roads of the Western Express Highway? And this, after the insatiable customs officers gleefully cleaned them of their scotch and dollars.
Here's the deal: let's not put the cart before the bull. Let's focus internally first, let's set our house in order.
First, let's manufacture a good, solid product, and then go out there and sell it. Isn't this the most basic lesson they teach in B-school?