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How great thinking conceives of itself.

12 Feb

While renewing my subscription, I came upon the Economist describing itself:
"Published since September 1843 to take part in a severe contest between intelligence, which presses forward, and an unworthy, timid ignorance obstructing our progress. "

I would like to pull off one of those exquisite encapsulations of a brand before I die.

Ronak rights a write.

6 Feb

Ronak Shetty decided it was high time he restarted writing a blog, and indeed, do it right: start a blog on issues weightier than Manchester United and soccer.
Not that Man U and soccer are not weighty issues. To devotees. Both are important parts of a religion that has its own deities, doctrines, code of honour, fervor and fanatics. I understand that for a Man U believer, there is a heaven and a hell too; heaven being winning a match, hell being losing to Arsenal.
But that is besides the point?
Ronak has commenced his ‘serious’ writing with a blogpost on Viktor Emil Frankel’s take on the meaning of life. This is as fabulous as it is reckless; if you are going serious, go all the way and start with ‘the meaning of life."
I was struck with his courage.
The man is a professional: he showed his blog to me for a suggestion here and a suggestion here. Like a true writer, he ignored as many suggestions as he incorporated. I don’t mind. The idea is to find Ronak’s tone of voice. Not mine.
He has done a superb job if I may say so. I am an advertising copywriter, not a Pulitzer or Booker Prize winner. As many enthusiasts there are about my writing, I remind myself that I am an advertising copywriter.
For another of my blogs, I will hold forth on the glory of being an advertising copuwriter. Not for a moment do I shortchange myself or copywriting.
But this blog is about Ronak. And I wish your writing Godspeed, Ronak. May the page rise up to meet you.

To be Discontinued.

15 Sep

One always has to know when a stage comes to an end. If we insist on staying longer than the necessary time, we lose the happiness and the meaning of the other stages we have to go through.

Closing cycles, shutting doors, ending chapters – whatever name we give it, what matters is to leave in the past the moments of life that have finished.

Did you lose your job? Has a loving relationship come to an end? Did you leave your parents’ house? Gone to live abroad? Has a long-lasting friendship ended all of a sudden?

You can spend a long time wondering why this has happened.

You can tell yourself you won’t take another step until you find out why certain things that were so important and so solid in your life have turned into dust, just like that.

But such an attitude will be awfully stressing for everyone involved: your parents, your husband or wife, your friends, your children, your sister.

Everyone is finishing chapters, turning over new leaves, getting on with life, and they will all feel bad seeing you at a standstill.

Things pass, and the best we can do is to let them really go away.

That is why it is so important (however painful it may be!) to destroy souvenirs, move, give lots of things away to orphanages, sell or donate the books you have at home.

Everything in this visible world is a manifestation of the invisible world, of what is going on in our hearts – and getting rid of certain memories also means making some room for other memories to take their place.
Let things go. Release them. Detach yourself from them.

Nobody plays this life with marked cards, so sometimes we win and sometimes we lose.

Do not expect anything in return, do not expect your efforts to be appreciated, your genius to be discovered, your love to be understood.

Stop turning on your emotional television to watch the same program over and over again, the one that shows how much you suffered from a certain loss: that is only poisoning you, nothing else.

Nothing is more dangerous than not accepting love relationships that are broken off, work that is promised but there is no starting date, decisions that are always put off waiting for the “ideal moment.”

Before a new chapter is begun, the old one has to be finished: tell yourself that what has passed will never come back.

Remember that there was a time when you could live without that thing or that person – nothing is irreplaceable, a habit is not a need.

This may sound so obvious, it may even be difficult, but it is very important.

Closing cycles. Not because of pride, incapacity or arrogance, but simply because that no longer fits your life.

Shut the door, change the record, clean the house, shake off the dust.

Stop being who you were, and change into who you are.


10 Sep

Art that captures the cruelty of the order will always be welcome and shared. This picture is more than true.

Meme squared.

10 Sep

Of course the picture is unkind, but this photo, provenance unknown, has been circulating for years and now has appeared with the blue whale allusion. Talk about a meme being repurposed. When advertising refers other advertising, it is called recursive advertising. What does one call this?



19 Aug

Bahaar, James Bahaar.

20 Oct

Irfaan Khan, of the unquestionable acting credentials, is shilling for a light company these days and in one of their commercials, shot in a superfast cut sequence, is doing something like a rock star number with a bevy of what passes for PYT’s these days. It makes you cringe to watch a man of this quotient of gravitas do this, but hey, I’m all for making a little extra money. This is a commercial, not part of the oeuvre that will comprise his professional legacy. And then there he is, playing the dangerous head of a super-secret and super-efficient criminal organisation in Inferno. In both cases, looking at him onscreen is more than a little ….. disconcerting.
Not as disconcerting as watching Pierce Brosnan in the Pan Bahaar ad, another commercial that is being dissed and trolled violently. Everyone is just completely thrown by watching Brosnan (the ex-James Bond himself, no less) doing a Pan Bahar number. Like a friend said, you can’t watch this commercial without laughing AT it.
If you don’t think Irfan is appropriate for the role in Inferno, you have to take into consideration that a casting phalanx, Ron Howard and the SONY studio bosses all got together to make that decision. As in Brosnan and Pan Bahar, the client, the agency and Brosnan himself all decided to go ahead and shoot. Pause for thought.
I wonder how it was all sold to Brosnan. Did he realise where the brand is located in the Indian ‘classy’ universe? (Or isn’t. Or is it?) Did he care? He was certainly told that most of over a billion people have made it into a giant brand and this much I am sure, he certainly didn’t shoot this for a reduced fee.
My beef with this TVC is that it looks like Brosnan was playing this entire commercial as a laugh. In every single frame Pierce is having a great time just plain hamming it and going through the motions, that too, with just one expression on his face. You have the feeling he can’t wait for someone to shout "Pack Up", so that he can rush to the bank and deposit the cheque. …. and just can’t wait to laugh all the way to the bank. The seemingly solitary action shot, shot from the ceiling is hopelessly and obviously a stuntman.
What dooms this commercial is it ends up as a satire.
Contrast this TVC with Brosnan doing a Bond-number in a VISA ad some years ago, when he was still playing Bond in the movies. That entire commercial accomplished a wonderful nod towards Bond, with Pierce honestly playing Bond, and not one frame suggesting anything but. Contrast that with the sleepwalking Brosnan in the Pan Bahaar commercial. It is twice the catastrophe if it was honestly shot as a full-blooded testimonial and it not only ends up looking like a satire from the first frame to the last.
There’s a rather twisty twist in the Pan Bahar commercial. Brosnan is not being himself, he is playing Bond. Bond is a celebrity in his own right. And Brosnan is playing Bond, sporting a moustache and beard borrowed straight from Commander Whitehead of the famous Schwepervesence campaign that O&M’s American office ran in 1955, 61 years ago. Brosnan’s facial hair serves him well, if only to hide his epression!
The head reels.
The challenge with casting a celebrity is that we have to crack a connection with the celebrity and the brand. A meaningful connection. Having the celebrity hold a small tin and mouth inane platitudes is just not enough.
Pierce has stopped playing Bond three movies ago and Daniel Craig now owns Bond so thoroughly, the world is forced to acknowledge that he is the second authentic Bond after Sean Connery. I wonder if anyone remembers the furore when Daniel Craig was announced as ‘the next Bond’, even upto the website But Craig painstakingly earned his place as Bond, and has effectively silenced all his critics. Maybe Pan Bahaar may see some such luck, but they better script some great follow-ups.
The WhatsApp joke goes like this: Pierce introduces himself as "mynemifvondzamzvon." Seeing the uncomprehending look in response, Pierce pits out the Pan Bahar and says the line again: "My name is Bond, James Bond."

You really don’t want to get a hold of a celebrity of Brosnan’s Bond equity, and then have it lampooned like this.
Time will tell if this proved to be a masterstroke or not. It certainly has company with Messi for TATA and ZouZou for Kanakia. A global giant and a nationally-recognised builder may have it easy associating with an international figure, but if Pan Bahaar did really bite off more than it could chew is something we should wait and see. Take it easy with the jokes, folks, its not as if Pan Bahaar made a commercial with Mr Bean.
As for myself, a small nod to client and agency for sticking their necks out. And here’s wishing you luck, James, luck.

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