Friday, June 29, 2007

In a Nutshell

I have been working in customer service and marketing for over 20 years and have been a part of hundreds of briefings in a variety of roles; client, agency, vendor, stakeholder, subject matter expert, business owner, audience manager and scapegoat. The more I partake in these sessions, the more I am convinced there is only one brief that exists, and like a Christmas fruitcake, just gets repackaged and passed around. I have decided to remove the mystery surrounding marketing and advertising and publish that one brief here, in full, in one easy to understand sentence.

So, without any further ado, here is my brief, in a nutshell...

If we look at our enterprise-wide mission of continuing to quickly build progressive products and enthusiastically customize inexpensive infrastructures and services, maintaining the highest standards of cutting edge product offerings and increasing customer satisfaction by optimizing touchpoints while transforming our company into a virtual center of excellence, then it becomes pointedly clear that the most definitive and impacting priority and key point upon which we must hereafter focus almost entirely is the streamlining of the streams of until now unstreamlined and unstructured communication and optimizing the relevant and resonating bullet points within those streamlined streams so that the streams are strum in a sensationally structured fashion in a horizontal manner across all of our verticals of focus to deliver the otherwise confusifying messaging in a clear, concise, simplified, personalized and yet out-of-the-box manner with surgical precision to the target audience with whom we would otherwise like to engage in stimulating, one-on-one dialogue-like conversation that mirrors real-world, real-time discussions in the business place which will enable us to hold our customers' hand as we drag them through the journey we have mapped out for them to increase their curiosification with the end purpose of moving them from awareness to evaluation and facilitating a paradigm shift leading to cost-effective pre-selling, upselling, cross-selling, side-selling, in-selling and outselling our vast suite of revolutionary, empowering, performance-based, end-to-end, feature rich products we fully and completely endorse in a calendarized fashion preferably and most desireably in a manner in which the precision of the strum communications is irresistably intoxicating to the end recipient thereby igniting the drivers and dormant desires of said recipient to purchase and deploy our until now unpurchased and undeployed products for the optimization and performanatiousness of whatever it is they wish to perform, for which we are absolutely certain we have a laser-like and completeish blurry grasp upon as backed up by and gleaned from our colossal reasearchification efforts which we have continuously performed in a projectized manner on an ongoing basis to surface customer needs, pin-point pains and get a highly valuable, atomic level understanding and bird’s eye view of the core of what it is we are investigating thereby assuring us beyond any doubt that we might actually be making, developing or perhaps even thinking about what our unknown audience wants to know even if they do not yet know they wish to know, since we most positively and genuinely know our audience almost better than they know themselves and we are prepared to leverage those insightful insights in a fascinatingly geurilla-like fashion as we approach, educate and lavishly bombard our audience in a consistent, reliable yet synchronized manner via the proper channels through which they will receive the unsurpassed and ISO 9001 compliant level of service they would have received if we actually serviced them ourselves which will exponentially positively impact our revenues and increase their satisfaction quotient which can best be described as the level of euphoria and feeling of peer-group inclusion they experience upon timely delivery and successful deployment of our productified products combined with the clearly vague yet unparalleled value proposition we wish to offer them on a trial basis that will ensure they remain loyal, raving fans for a set and measurable period of time as defined, outlined and clarified by the metrics which we had created an outsourced team and fine-tuned for performance enhancement that will allow us to quantify the results of the lifetime worth of superior communication we plan to stream to ensure never-before-seen success once said communication is strum in a communicative like fashion using new and authentically innovative tactics and popular, powerful and proven media channels of which we know nothing about and are confident will allow us to cost-effectively explore, exploit and own certain media in the mind of our customer before our competition is clued in to our efforts effectively giving us a mission-critical window of opportunity which will definitely most likely assure a dramatic gain of market share and increased economically-sound value for current and future shareholders who, our research has clearly indicated might also be our customers at a consumer level and therefore members of our target audience allowing them to first hand experience our awe-inspiring, world-class marketing effortations which will ensure them that we are most likely heading in a certain direction while driving a vehicle that has momentum and provides movement within the space we wish to own or at least rent in the market and the mind of the customer, whose thoughts we are currently profiling for the future fulfillment of our database initiatives to generate the response driven responses we are certain to receive once the message has been streamlined in a manner which delivers the message in crystal clear fashion across a variety of media and non-media, generating demand, creating buzz and sustainable expectations around our brand attributes and imbedding within our communications and thereby instilling within our various segments, which have been segmented based on the segmentation models which we have incorporated for the purpose of optimal segmentification, the very philosophy of our brand values to create an environment in which the segmented segments are most likely certain they will not be able to survive without our products which directly translates back to the ROI and fed into our 360 degree balanced scorecard views detailing the mammoth bottom-line results which we are sure to achieve and surpass by immediately linking our top-down activities to our bottom-up initiatives in a coordinated manner which will not only guarantee cohesion, but will also become the backbone for our communications as we go back to basics, placing the customer virtually at the center of almost everything we do by including the various segments in focus groups, taste tests, pilot offers, extendable and scalable once-in-a-lifetime promotions we can refresh and renew on a quarterly basis, survey distribution and generic product communication development and refinement with the intent and goal of creating a positive perception shift and demand for our miracle products through word of mouth marketing which we will then use to launch and drive our very own “tell-a-friend” initiative which will allow us to communicate cross-segment, cross town, cross-culture and trans-global while at the same time enabling us to incorporate our own unique spin and align the viral activities to our brand philosophy which we hope to launch at some point in the future that will essentially force us to raise the bar and in preparation we are seriously considering implementing an improved “zero-tolerance” policy and approach to ineffective or unclear communication that does not contain imaginative messaging in line with our core values or a decisive and insightful call-to-action which, in our opinion is exactly what is wrong with the market at this moment in time, creating discontent and disillusion among our audience which is exactly the gap we hope to bridge by cutting through the clutter and becoming partners in success with our customers in a win-win situation.

Any questions?

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Airport 78/79

I have finally recovered from the whirlwind of last weekend. It was a fluttery of sightseeing, cocktails and flight planning. Since Manuel is here, I have been playing the tacky tourist. You know what I mean, the long shorts, sneakers, sunscreen dripping into the eyes, 35mm slung over the shoulder and digital camera in the hand, taking pictures of all the wrong things and offending the locals. I find a certain freedom in being the ignorant gora. If one is going to stand out, then one should do it with as much panache as possible.

Visiting temples in India during the summer is a unique experience. It is not possible to wear or take shoes into the temple and for some unknown reason which I am sure has a lot to do with logic, they seem to store the shoes about a kilometer from the temple itself. They lay down thin carpet like things over the hot coals of a walkway and the trek to the temple begins. People running from shade spot to shade spot and doing the hot potato dance in between. Little kids seem to be oblivious to the pavement, but my delicate feet sizzled like bacon. First stop was the Lotus Temple, which is one of my favorite refuges in the middle of the city. No matter what is happening outside or how hot it may be, the Lotus Temple is always quiet and cool. From there it was off to Akshradam Temple complex. It is a new temple, about 5 years old, but built in the old style so it feels as though you have stepped back through time in a sort of Disney meets Ganesh kind of way. It is a photographers dream, but no cameras are allowed.

After a few hours of sightseeing, it was time for cocktails and dinner with Stephen and Pierre. First up was gin martinis at their place, followed by dinner at Ivy and post dinner cocktails on their roof terrace. But not before Pierre dragged us to what is supposedly the new hip and happening spot in Delhi, Tabusalar in Saket. Of course, thanks to all of his planning, we spent our entire time there on the wrong side of the velvet rope. Pierre kept reassuring us how great it was, which made our inability to get in all the more frustrating. After about 20 minutes of waiting in the sauna like heat, we left and that is how we ended up on their roof terrace with Pierre force-feeding everyone more gin martinis.

Saturday found all of us nursing our hangovers in order to be fresh and perky for dinner at Ploof with the fabulous Danielle, who had freshly returned from Holland, looking as radiant and beautiful as ever… It was at Ploof when I came across yet another missing element from my childhood. Out of the 5 of us, there were only 2 of us that had not had a duck as a pet. A duck. What does one do with a duck? Well, apparently Stpehen’s used to follow him around, going into panic attacks if Stephen wandered off. Manuel had a duck. Danielle had a duck. Pierre and I were the obvious outsiders. I wasn’t sure weather I should be jealous or relieved. But then, Pierre dropped his bombshell… It is always odd when you discover someone’s hidden fetish. And Pierre’s is a doozy of one.

It seems he collects timetables from airlines. But not recent ones, mind you. The one I saw was from AerLingus for 78/79, which suddenly explained why Pierre often and quite suddenly drops a sentence like ”Do you know, if I had flown PanAm from Dublin to Nairobi in July of 1978, I would have had to connect in Cairo and then change planes 3 more times?” As if that weren't reason enough to call the men in white with their special little jackets, he then complains about how miserable his life would have been if he would have taken that flight and how his luggage probably would have gotten lost and don’t even get him started on the supposed issues he would have had at immigration due to the fact the airline would not have told him to arrange his visa in advance and the crazy taxi driver that would have fetched him from the airport. And that is how he talks when sober… Wait until gin martini number 6. Perhaps a pet duck isn’t so odd in comparison.

Free at last, free at last, thank God almighty, she is free at last. My life, however has come to an end. Yes, she may have emerged smiling and looking like, well, 300 million dollars, but my life now has no meaning. As the president, founder and sole member of the Indian chapter of the “Free Paris Society”, I suddenly find myself feeling empty. My grief and feeling of uncertainty echoing in the cavernous emptiness of my previously full life. So here I sit in Café Coffee Day in Gurgaon (yes, Gurgaon, see how low I have sunk?) pondering what my next mission will be. The reverend mother says that when God closes a door, he opens a window somewhere. At least that’s what Maria would have us believe, but look as I may, all I see are closed windows and badly painted walls.

Thursday, June 21, 2007


What a day today has been… Full of surprises and unexpected education… And it isn’t even over yet as I sit here writing during my lunch break.

I wrote my last entry without any idea of the impact it would have on my day. Suddenly, I seem to be confronted, drowning even, in condom news. I tried to resist, I tried not to read the articles, but they were just too tempting and so I threw myself into topic with wreckless abandon. Imagine my shock to disc over flaws in the system, dark clouds hanging over my sub-continental home. It was just a few hours ago when I mentioned that sex toys and pornography are illegal in India. Well, imagine my surprise when I came across an article about the distribution of condoms at porn cinemas in the Indian state of Gujarat. I guess pornography is only illegal if purchased for “consumption” in the privacy of one’s own home…

I also stumbled upon an article on BBC news that condoms made according to international sizes are too large for a majority of Indian men. The study found that more than half of the men measured had penises that were shorter than international standards for condoms. And then we have the response from Sunil Mehra, the former editor of the Indian version of the men's magazine Maxim. "It's not size, it's what you do with it that matters and from our population, the evidence is Indians are doing pretty well.”

On YouTube, the virtues of a condom covers for mobile phones while in a hot tub are available for your viewing, demonstrated by a bikini clad bimbo. After looking into it, I discovered that it provides for an impenetrable water-proof cover while allowing for full use of the device in a moist environment. Hmmm…

That’s a whole lot of condom news, but it’s not over yet…

In the city of Chandigarh, one can now visit the Condom Bar and this is one instance in which the name says it all. It is India’s (if not the world’s) first condom themed bar. Visitors enter into a colorful and mirrored interior decorated with condoms. There are condom logos on the drinking glasses, uniforms and just about anything else one can imagine. And in lieu of change, one can take condoms or other souvenirs by which to remember their visit. I had been scratching my well coiffed head looking for my next weekend destination. Problem solved.

If you happen to be looking for an activity while intoxicated on condom themed cocktails, fear not, you can partake in the condom joke contest which is being held by 250 pharmacies across Chennai where clever people with witty jokes can submit their suggestions.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Sex and the Sub-Continent

To quote the Wicked Witch of the West, “What a world, what a world…” She had no idea how right she was. Sure she may have been talking about that ugly little girl destroying her beautiful wickedness, but I am sure she never imaged the excitement and outrage over vibrating condoms here in India.

This was brought to my attention yesterday as Manuel, Abdul, Stephen and I sat in my now favorite chocolate themed restaurant where we all had our favorite chocolate coffees and milkshakes, except Stephen. Always having to prove a point and be an original, he ordered a fresh lime soda. Quite suddenly, the conversation switched from grocery items and the joys of living in India to the previously mentioned topic of vibrating condoms in India when Abdul flashed the small article with full-color picture. It seems that nobody is clear whether they are to promote condom usage which happens to be on the decline or a sex toy. Sex toys, like pornography are forbidden in India. Perhaps someone should tell that to Palika Bazaar. Or perhaps there is a difference between actual porn and people who just “make very nice the hanky panky” on video. I guess one could see that as educational as opposed to entertaining.

This morning I had an email from Stephen with a link to the BBC website. It seems this issue is bigger than I thought. Even her Majesty appears to be up to date with the little ring that is either to hold the condom in place (legal) or to provide sexual pleasure (illegal). To quote the minister for road and energy (yes, I agree, he is definitely a subject matter expert), Kailash Vijayvargiya, "Sex toys are banned in India and the vibrating device is nothing but a sex toy being sold as condoms. The government's job is to promote family planning and population control measures rather than market products for sexual pleasure." (Thanks BBC News). Being the most populous nation with an estimated 1.2 billion peeps, that route seems to be working out really well. The argument seems to come from the fact that the ring, while being promoted with the condoms, actually can be used without one making it then, in fact, a vibrator.

But if we take that argument further and let’s suppose, hypothetically of course, that a situation might arise where two people decide to have sex yet do not wish to produce a baby. I know, I know, it seems far fetched and highly unlikely, but humor me here for a bit. Doesn’t that then in effect turn their naughty parts into sex toys used solely for the purpose of pleasure? And what about oral sex? Talking dirty? I see no baby-making opportunities there. Of course one could argue that oral sex is a form of birth control and talking dirty is just bad taste and undignified. What if we have sex with the lights on and actually take a peek at the action while in the throes of lust? Does that then constitute pornography or even worse, could it be defined as a live sex show? Should India impose a ban on recreational sex? And don’t even get me started on self-service, which I know at least one or two people reading this have engaged in at least once in their lives.

After writing this, it occurred to me that I need to do the responsible thing. I am going to run out and get myself a pack of those condoms with the vibrating ring and give them a test-drive.

Monday, June 18, 2007


This morning I woke up pondering one of life’s great mysteries. No, it is not whether the chicken or the egg came first (actually it was the egg) or even why that chicken decided to cross the road, but rather why I have 2 electrical switches and an electrical socket in my shower. Maybe it’s just me, but last time I checked electricity, water and people make for a rather nasty cocktail. We just don’t mix well. I am not sure why I haven’t really pondered all of this before, but Sunday I could no longer ignore it, no longer live in denial. About 10 minutes after a shower, I heard a loud “POP” and smoke started pouring in from my bathroom. It seems my socket and switches had a bit of a burst and there they were, beautifully framed in black char.

Of course, the whole of the bathroom is wired from that particular electrical set-up, so I now have no electricity in the bathroom with the lone exception of the ceiling fan. A lot of good that does me when trying to give myself a late evening coif before heading out to the market. It also affects the hot water which means cold showers for now and while that felt great and refreshing a week ago, the rains the past few days have brought down the temperature enough so that the cold water is just a bit too cold. Brrrr.

Manuel and I are now at war. He has been here for just over a week and already, lines have been drawn. Have no fear, I will win. Manuel has found his Waterloo. Just before heading off to Lakshadweep several weeks back, I realized my life was empty. There was a dark space roughly the shape and size of an elephant and so I did what anyone in my situation would do, I decided to adopt one and fill the void, give my life meaning and also the ability to step on and squash anyone that gets on my nerves or in my way. No matter what anyone tells you, size does matter. Manuel has decided that he wants a monkey. Yes, I know, I went through that phase as well, but he seems far more set on it than I ever was. It all started on Sunday when we got in the rickshaw and began the journey that fateful journey. We were at India Gate and needed to go to Vasant Vihar, where we would meet Abdul at a chocolate themed café. As we rounded the houses of parliament and came up beside the residence of the president, there they were, a street full of monkeys. Monkeys sitting, climbing, picking bugs off themselves and each other, and the ones that Manuel really wants to have, monkeys carrying their little babies. I saw that look in his eyes and before I could protest, he stated he wanted one, must have one and has stopped talking about them only long enough to have a cup of Viennese coffee at Chocolat.

And I find his timing to just be completely insensitive. He knows as well a I do that I can’t think of monkeys right now, my entire days and nights are filled writing letters to my favorite inmate, Paris Hilton. She needs me. I have been so worried about her I have hardly slept and had to go out and buy some white oversized glasses to hide the bags. I was glad to read she has taken my advice and decided not to “play dumb” anymore. It just isn’t a good look for her. I am thinking of frigid librarian for her post-prison image.

Back in Town

This world’s waited long enough, I’ve come home at last…

Yes, after an expected and extended absence, I have decided to do a Norma Desmond and return to my public. I can only imagine how difficult, dull and grey it must have been without me, but fear not, for I am here, back and better than ever.

And what I time I chose to return to India. I got bitch-slapped by the heat the moment I stepped off the plane. After several weeks in Amsterdam with a temperature that went from about 15 to maybe 24, it was quite a shock to be in the oven of Delhi. The wax in my hair melted immediately and suddenly I felt like one of the bad guys at the end of “Raiders of the Lost Ark”. Yes indeed, it was hot. The bustling and crowded city I had left behind was nothing more than a shell of its former self. India Gate was deserted and the normal crowds on the street were huddled under their ceiling fans and air conditioners. I left the house with a bottle of ice water and 10 minutes later it was to hot to drink. Sitting in a rickshaw was like being in a Swedish sauna in ski-clothes and so I did what I normally do when I don’t know what else to do in Delhi, I headed for the old city. Emerging from the metro in Chawri Bazaar felt like coming home. It was great to have some action and excitement after the boringly organized streets of Amsterdam. I was with Abdul and Manuel and we made our way to the street-side chai shop for a cup of chai and I took in several deep breaths of the hot and heavy air. Nothing like lungs full of emergency levels of pollution to make one feel right at home.

Actually, I was a bit curious how I would view India and Delhi once I was home. I had missed my friends, my life of cocktail parties and brunches, but had made new friends and a new life. I was curious what I would think and feel once I got back to Amsterdam and saw the life I left behind. It was great seeing my friends and like with all real friends, it was like no time had passed, and we fell right into our normal routine as though we had been drinking bubbles the night before. I did find it strange trying to tell stories about life in India and I realized that no matter what someone reads, sees or hears, unless they have been in India, they just don’t get it. I think it is like that for a lot of places, but I think India takes it to a new level.

To go from Amsterdam to London or Paris is quite an easy trip. India takes time, it takes energy and, in my opinion, you have to want to be here. I realized that I do want to be here. All joking about driver, bugs and everything else, I really enjoy being in India. I missed Delhi when I was in Amsterdam. Sure, the place drives me absolutely batty at times, but I love it. In Amsterdam I discovered that no matter were my life may go, no matter where I may live from here on out, my life there has come to an end. It is time to close off that chapter and start a new one. I will always go back to visit, but it became clear that my life is someplace else.

So here I am, back in Delhi and this time a friend came with me. Manuel decided he wanted to see and experience India himself and so he joined me on the flight back from Amsterdam. It has been amazing having him here, seeing everything through his eyes. It is also great that he loves the same things I do so now I have someone to join me o my excursions all about town, looking at what my dad would refer to as “a bunch of old buildings and statues of dead people”. Abdul and I took Manuel to Old Delhi for dinner at Karim’s and a walk through Meena Bazaar after only 12 hours in India and he loved it. Yesterday, one week later, he finally saw his first monkeys on the street and I almost had to pull him back into the rickshaw. As much as I want an elephant, he wants a monkey and preferable one with a little baby to carry around. Not sure how the cat would deal with that.

Yes, I have a cat… Well, I have a cat that is temporarily lodging with me. It belongs to my boss who I share a flat with and he leaves for holiday this very night. Mike is his name and shedding hair all over the place while trying to stay cool seems to be what he does best. Well, that is it for now, but more stories coming your way, so stay tuned.