Saturday, May 13, 2006

IT'S A BRAND NEW WORLD AND INDIA HAS A LONG WAY TO GO




about eight weeks back i attended an inauguration of a new book on branding. written by tambrahm sridhar ramanujam.there are quite a few sridhars who have made a mark in the advertisement world. there is another ad guru r sridhar who was with o&m and left them to start a consultancy of his own.i had earlier heard about ramanujam sridhar,how he started his career in an accounting function,his working with a.g.krishnamurthy's mudra and later moving on to chennai and bangalore where he worked in o&m for many years.he is also an avid cricket fan. no,he is something more. he is a fanatic. like my eldest brother who fainted in the stands when mohun bagan scored a goal against east bengal in a first division league match about 50 years ago, sreedhar is very emotive about indian cricket. he is also extremely knowledegable. besides advertising, cricket was his passion.jokingly he would say that his family came later in that order.

the neatly packaged book 'one land,one billion minds' is no great shakes. no new theories or concepts. nothing esoteric or mindblowing. it is all plain vanilla stuff. there is lot of commonsense permeating the book. but then commonsense is uncommon. and the more we read such books we realise how very often we miss the woods for the trees. balakrishnan(balki) was the chief guest.he is the national advertising director of lowe. he had worked under sridhar when he started his career and therefore had some very kind words to say. the publisher srinivasamurthy was there to justify the high price of rs 950 for the book.

i happened to chat for a few minutes with the author and tried to impress him by saying that my daughter works for landor."oh,that design company in sf?" that was his reaction. i gave the feedback to l and l felt that is how many people in the ad world perhaps perceive it.

when the q and a time came,i asked the author whether there are any international indian brands.he said that he doesn't think any single indian brand can be seen on the global brand map. there are south korean and even chinese global brands but not indian.haeir,wahaha,master kong have become famous chinese brands.if you stretch it a bit,maybe 'taj' could be termed a global indian brand. period.

the other day i read an article on mohan murjani and the brands he has created. mm was born in 1946 in hyderabad,sind. he spent his formative years at pune with his grandmother,a very spiritual lady,and one who was deeply influenced by sadhu vaswani.he moved to hong kong and from there to new york and the rest is as they say is history. gloria vanderbilt, gucci, yves saint laurent, calvin klein, jimmy choo, tumi, build-a-bear are all his. i couldn't believe it. but then these are our entrepreneurs who ventured abroad,took risks and became successful."india is the place.i'd say'shut the door'.don't do a thing abroad. build here. this is the market". mohan is heavily betting on india.

ask vijay mahajan and he will say the same thing.vijay is a professor of marketing at the mccombs school of business,university of texas at austin.14% of the world's population of 6 billion plus lives in countries with a per capita gnp of 10k dollars plus.the market opportunities lie in the 86%. he has written a book titled "the 86% solution". "this century will see a celebration of brands coming from the 86% economies", says mahajan in his book which he has coauthored with kamini banga.

and in a recent 'esomar' conference held in mumbai, a team consisting of researchers from mckinseys said that brands that forge long term relationships with the consumer are the ones that do consistently well in the marketplace.the brands that came to my mind were walt disney,harley davidson, walmart,coca cola, honda,nissan,lg,samsung,daewoo,lenovo,qoo(a fruit juice variant from coke),tiger beer to name a few. they said india failed on all counts -in 10 or so industries and categories across the board. after conducting loads of research and based on several parameters they concluded that there are no prominent indian brands in asia. the reason. no money or effort is made to promote the india tag.

we have a long way to go to create global brands and make it to the global marquee.

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