Thursday, July 29, 2010


Meet the “Man your man could smell like”. That’s the new viral-video that’s clearly broken all previous viral-video records. It features Isaiah Mustafa who has now achieved a pop-icon status. Since the time this man showed the ladies how their man could “smell” like him, even though they didn’t “look” like him, Procter & Gamble (P&G) has been “smelling” money in every market. After the viral-video produced by Wieden & Kennedy hit the Internet, the P&G brand Old Spice has been constantly gaining market share. The viral showed in an interesting tongue-in-cheek manner how anything is possible when you smell right. It may sound a little over the top, but it’s a fact – when you smell right, dress right, you have higher chances of success!

Carmine Gallo, a popular communications expert once had the chance to interview Commander Matt Eversmann. He was the military hero who led his troops into battle in Somalia in 1993, and he also inspired the movie Black Hawk Down. Gallo asked him, “What’s the secret of leadership?” Eversmann answered: “It starts with how a leader wears his uniform.” That’s not a “mantra” or “gyan” many would give about leadership. However, as Eversmann said, his whites were whiter than his subordinates’, his clothes were better ironed, his shoes shinier! That’s where leadership starts.

You never get a record chance
Great leaders, if you thought, were about great speeches, great deeds, then think again. A lot depends on that “something” which happens even before you get a chance to speak. Many a time you find someone very lively and enthusiastic and you assume he is smart, likable and successful – without any proof of him being any of those things. It’s called the ‘halo effect’. A person who complains might be viewed as boring, negative, cynical, unsociable. It’s called the ‘horns effect’. That’s the way we perceive things around us. The sad part is that you never get a second chance to create that first impression, that ‘halo or horn’ effect. People size you up and decide whether they will like you or not on the basis of first impressions which are formed in – hold your breath – three to four seconds. Yes, even before you utter a word (forget about delivering a whole speech), even before you do something, chances are that people would have categorised you. Remember telling someone, “He looks like a leader,” even without knowing anything about that ‘leader’?! Dialogues like “She has a positive aura around her,” or “He looks dependable” or “There is something disturbing about him” are often used to judge people. These are nothing but people creating first impressions, which are not just created in a jiffy, but also are nearly impossible to change.

To create that great first impression you need to wear two things: (a) good clothes; (b) a great smile. Look at any great leader, from the various Presidents of America to the heads of corporations and you realise that they all come across as likeable and dependable, depending on the way they carry themselves and the way they smile. The optimism & enthusiasm of their personalities is reflected the moment you see them, and this is an unwritten law – “Leaders always stand out and dress better than their subordinates.” Today, it’s important to know what suits you and fits you the best and makes you look good.

Be it Donald Trump or Arnold Schwarzenegger, each one realised that to be a leader, you need to first look like one. They all dressed best, for a first impression takes just a few seconds to be created and you don’t get a second chance.

Do you look the part?
This man is so famous that people in almost every country have heard about him. A highly educated and qualified man, he was immensely proud of his country. Once he went to see the Queen of England. Anyone else would have dressed in his best suit and tie, but this man decided to wear a ‘dhoti’. You guessed it right – the man was none other than Mahatma Gandhi. He was fighting India’s War of Independence and knew that if he had to win this war, he had to dress like the poorest of the poor of his country and if the Queen wanted to meet him, she had to accept this. She did. The world took notice and soon people were convinced that this man would take India to victory. Every part of this man showed how deeply he believed in the cause he was fighting for. You just had to see him once to realise how committed he was. He looked the part he played.

Born in a Catholic home, and christened Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu, this child grew up hearing stories of Catholic missionaries. She was so inspired that she became a nun herself. Mother Teresa went on to help thousands and thousands of the poor of Calcutta. She loved them and wanted to change their world. She even dressed like them in a simple white sari with a blue border. Even when she won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1979, it was in this simple sari that she went to receive her award. She looked the part.

Donald Trump never really cared about the way he dressed. In his book How to Get Rich, he states that very soon he realized his folly and realised that if he had to get rich, he needed to look and behave that way too.

This determined young Indian girl worked as a receptionist from midnight to sunrise while studying in Yale, just so that she could collect $50 to buy a western suit for a job interview. Not well versed with Western wear, the young lady landed up buying a pair of trousers that reached down only to her ankles. Indra Nooyi was rejected. She went back to her professor at Yale who told her to dress like herself. She went for her next interview in a sari and was selected. She had found the “look” that would work for her.

If looks could kill
In today’s very competitive job market, it’s important to “look” your part. A well groomed appearance is as important as having a strong resume. You may have heard of killer looks, but if your looks are not right, they could definitely kill your career.

A well groomed look is simple to achieve – be fit and wear clothes that fit you well. If you dress well, it gives the other person the impression that this occasion was important for you and you put in efforts to look good. When you dress brightly and look happy, you attract attention in a positive way. Trendy dressers come across as young, lively and successful. It’s important to “look” appropriate. Barack Obama looked the right package to bring about change in America. His looks – a black man with a Muslim father – struck a chord with Americans. Making him win gave them a chance to prove once again to the world that this was a country where dreams come true.

So before you put your speech together, before you plan your presentation, check your wardrobe and dress to kill – competition that is! Today, careers, perceptions and images are built in seconds. It’s very important for you to figure out your winning look!

Friday, July 16, 2010


The closing ceremony of the FIFA World Cup, brought a lot of things to an end, like checking scores, looking in disbelief as big teams like Italy, Argentina, Brazil etc fell, like a pack of cards, smiling & wondering whether to believe in the octopus Paul’s prophecy! As Shakira sang “Waka, Waka,” the perfect cheering song meaning “Do it” during the closing ceremony, the world held its breath in anticipation. Who would it be this time – Spain or Netherlands? However, for a few moments, everybody forgot about the finals when this person entered the stadium, as all 89,000 spectators rose to salute the great leader, who actually started it all. Nelson Mandela’s overpowering presence left many teary-eyed. South Africa became the first African nation to host the FIFA Would Cup. Years ago, it also was the same nation that was banned from FIFA due to the apartheid system.

If you have seen the heart touching film “Invictus” directed by Clint Eastwood, you would understand what a long & difficult journey Mandela tread to reach here. If there is one leader who understood the power of sports, it was this man – Nelson Mandela. In his first term as the newly elected president, in 1995, Mandela did the impossible. He united an apartheid-torn nation, brought them together using the universal language of sports, as he worked hard to make South Africa win the 1995 Rugby World Cup – where both blacks & whites of South Africa for the first time cheered together for their nation. From there to becoming a hosting nation of FIFA, all one can say – what a man!

A few days back, Adidas launched a 60 - second viral to celebrate the success of its shoes F50 Adizero. The maximum number of goals during this World Cup were scored by players wearing the F50 Adizero shoe. While 20-year-old Thomas Mueller may have won the ‘Golden Boot Award’ and joined the club which has stars like Pele, Michael Owen etc, a totally different competition has started between Adidas & Nike. While Adidas in its viral claims its F50 to be the ‘2010 FIFA World Cup Top Scoring Boot’, Nike for its part claims the honours. After all, Iniesta who scored the winning goal for Spain was wearing Nike’s CTR360 Elite series boots.

Irrespective of whose claims are correct, this is sure, both brands would witness a surge in their sales. However, what’s interesting is FIFA or any other mega sporting events do more than just help sell sports shoes.

A month before the FIFA, people in UK were asked, “How safe is South Africa?” A good 56% responded ‘not safe’, while only 3% said ‘very safe’. Towards the end of the World Cup, 56% had changed their answer to ‘quite safe’. South Africa saw its image getting a boost after the world watched it on TV for about a month!

When Nigeria won the gold in soccer at the Olympic Games of 1996, even the Nigerian dictator General Sani Abacha saw a rise in his popularity in the eyes of the world (at least for some time) as the world lauded the Nigerian soccer team’s victory.

After the 2006 FIFA World Cup, a research was conducted which showed that the campaign launched by Germany under the slogan “Germany rolls out the red carpet” really worked. The country worked hard by training its “service ambassadors” in workshops, making its service providers aware of intercultural relations, building tolerance, learning foreign languages. After the games, in-depth interviews of people, who had never been to Germany before the games, showed that they thought Germans would be strict, unapproachable and intolerant, but found them friendly and pleasant! People actually forgot about Hitler and liked the Germans.

Yes, there are hosts of brands that use this opportunity to market their goods, but a sporting event gives a country a chance to showcase itself like never before. More than any brand, a country’s best and strongest image builders are its sporting teams. A win can leverage a country’s image, so can hosting a mega sporting event.

A country’s image is extremely important and it makes business sense too. According to Simon Anholt, an expert on “Nations as Brands”, “...Countries with a powerful and positive image can export more products, more culture, more services and also attract more tourists, more investors, more attention and respect of other governments!”

People’s perception about countries is very very strongly linked to the country’s sporting excellence. A country that hosts a successful Olympics, or World Cup is remembered as opposed to one that hosts a “forgettable event”. Athens Olympics did nothing much for Greece. While Beijing Olympics changed China’s image in the eyes of the whole world.

The Nation Brand Index (NBI) is an important indicator of a country’s perception and it’s interesting to note that the ranking shows a direct correlation between a nation’s overall rank and its economic status.

NBI 2009 saw an interesting phenomenon. China had never changed its rank of 29 all these years; yet, this was the first time its rank moved from 29 to 22. It was because of the Olympics.

Today, countries take their branding very seriously. Last month, the International Olympics Committee announced the list of finalists who would bid for the Winter Olympics to be held in 2018. The three countries were France, Germany, and South Korea, with South Korea being seen as the front runner. A few months back, South Korea’s richest tycoon, Lee Kun Hee, the Chairman of Samsung Electronics, received a presidential pardon and was released from prison (he had been earlier arrested on criminal changes of tax evasion). The reason for his release was to help South Korea’s bid to host the 2018 Winter Olympics. Nations take sporting events very seriously and work in tandem with business houses to showcase their strengths years before the actual event.

“Image” is what counts and what matters most. Consumers in America or Europe will easily pay more for an unknown Japanese product than an identical Korean product. An Indian in a foreign market needs to work harder than, say his French counterpart, though both may be equally talented. It’s all because of the “images” of countries.

Great brands are built, when customers have “great experiences” using them. A sporting event or team gives others a chance to ‘see’, to ‘experience’ your country. An advertising campaign, however beautiful, can never make one country look ‘Incredible’. However, well organised, well planned and well marketed sporting events can make a country look grand, and get it international approval.

As one mega event comes to a close, one is left wondering – would India too be able to do this one day?

Just as corporations put in crores to build their corporate images and brand identities, it’s time countries did the same too. South Africa has probably managed to change its image from an apartheid torn country to a good host – India, it’s time you did too. Waka, Waka... let’s do it too!

Thursday, July 1, 2010


The world over people are glued to their TV screens, taking in the excitement of FIFA. It’s pure delight, sheer happiness to see a goal being scored on football’s biggest stage. A goal brings with it instant fame, victory and of course celebrations for players and fans. However, what’s different is that for the first time in the history of FIFA, will someone be awarded for showing their passion.

This month (June) Coca-Cola revealed its plans to recognize the most entertaining “goal celebration” with its “Coca- Cola Celebration Award”. Coca-Cola believes that “Players are sure to release their African rhythm and create some iconic move that will rival the legendary celebrations…” After all what is FIFA without the jig, the jiggle, the jumps, the triumphs. You enjoy the way the players celebrate after each goal as much as the game. Now Coca-Cola has it all archived at, and it’s giving awards for the jiggle that gets the highest votes from viewers.

In fact it was Roger Milla of Cameroon who in a spontaneous release of emotions celebrated his goal with his iconic corner flag dance; and forever changed the world of “football goal celebrations”. With FIFA happening in Africa, Coca- Cola thought of this unique advertising strategy. Its final aim is to increase the company’s service from 1.8 billion servings per day to 3.2 billion by 2020. This seems to be an interesting way of blending the game, the feel of Africa and happiness all into one! So it instituted this award for the player who celebrates his goal in the most unique manner.

An interesting viral campaign caught my attention – it was called “The fun theory” campaign. The bottom line of all the video clips was – making things fun is the easiest way to change people’s behaviour. It was a series of experiments named “the fun theory” which was conducted and captured on a hidden camera to find out if the world could be made a better place by introducing the element of fun. One of the most popular ones (more than 1 million views on YouTube) shows how turning a set of subway stairs into a large piano (each step was painted as a key of a piano) encouraged people to use the stairs and not the escalator. Every time you walked, a stair played a musical rote. You could see the people playing on the steps and actually enjoying it. Another experiment had a trash can which made a sound, as if it was a 50 ft. deep well, when you threw garbage into it. This particular trash bin collected more garbage than earlier - simply because everyone enjoyed the experience. Each viral ended with one line, “The An initiative of Volkswagen”

Not surprising then, that this year at the Cannes Lions International Advertising Festival, the most prestigious award, that of ‘Advertiser of the Year’ – which is given to advertisers who have made a place for themselves when it comes to encouraging creativity and inspiring innovative marketing campaigns – went to Volkswagen. From its first win at Cannes Lion in 1961 to the current one for its ‘viral ad’, Volkswagen has showcased creativity at its best. Again, it’s not surprising that its intelligent positioning and brand building strategy will help it fulfill its aim of becoming the leading car manufacturer in the world.

When it comes to brand building, the one theme that seems to be working best is that of “fun”, be it drinks (Coca- Cola) or driving (Volkswagen) all seem to be adopting this theme.

The economy is sour, the people want to stretch the value of their money to the maximum, and the last thing they want is to hear someone preach! If you have to, then make it fun, the way Volkswagen did. Coca-Cola too, along with the goal celebration is pushing the idea of “RAIN”, (Replenish Africa Initiative) to help get water for schools. It has pledged $30 million to provide Africa with clean water. The focus however remains on “celebrations” in all its campaigns.

The trick is to bring a smile on the face of the consumer if you want to do well. But if you are serious about getting rich, you need to bring that “smile” in everything you do. Absolutely everything. Be it your advertising, your marketing or even your vision statement, everything should have a large dose of fun mixed in it.

Three top CEOs were asked one question: “What does your brand stand for?” Here is how they answered. Richard Branson was asked “What does Virgin Stand for?” He gave a one word answer, “Fun”!

Richard Tait, the founder of Cranium, was asked what Cranium stood for. He answered it stood for “delight”, for “shining moments”.

Toney Hsieh, CEO of Zappos, answered “Happiness”. There are two things that were common to all their answers. First their brands were all described without referring to the product. Virgin was not great music, or a great airline, Cranium, was not a board game, Zappos was not about shoes and clothes. The brands symbolised a “feeling”. The second was, all of them had an element of “fun” and “masti” in their description.

When brands are build on “Vision Statements” that have a strong dose of fun embedded in them, they grow faster and stronger. A brand is an experience, and that experience is best when it fun. Every time a consumer comes in contact with your brand, be it through actual purchase, or via a viral, or by visiting your store, he should feel the vibes of fun and excitement. It’s most addictive and he is bound to come back.

From the topmost CEO to the junior most sales person, if everyone puts “fun” into their work, efficiency is bound to increase.

A great CEO is one who makes a vision that excites people. A great salesman is one who has the confidence to be himself, because when you are yourself, and not pretending to be someone else, people like you, and when you relax and have fun, you sell better. A great telecaller is one whose voice reflects a smile. You may not see him, but can sense the smile and excitement in the voice. A great advertising campaign is one which goes beyond selling a product, rather it sells an experience. Remember what Howard Schultz tells about Starbucks, “It’s not just coffee”. Similarly, what you sell is not a product, clothes, books, cars, whatever. You sell a “feeling” and let that feeling be “fun”.

Find ways to bring fun & joy in your work, give unexpected delights to your customers and you are bound to beat your competitors hollow. All you require is creativity and not big budgets.

As Volkswagen says “Fun can change behaviour for better”, it can even change your fortunes. Think fun, have fun, if you want to get seriously rich.