Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Quarter 1 2009 – Review

As we set towards another quarter, felt it is important to review quarter. At the beginning like millions even I waited anxiously for Obamania and hoped that he has a magic wand to wipe out the current financial tsunami.

I managed to go through many of the information web sites offering counseling on how to protect your job and I did follow few of the points – I started blogging – for starters I am not proficient and was skeptic , I also started teaching though to a very small group of people, I started writing press releases as well and interestingly at these times I must confess I managed to bounce back with more knowledge and more personal confidence should there be any eventuality – I can chose from a couple of back up professions

Now at the end of the quarter we got used to many facts including reduced traffic, scary front page reports on more layoffs, neighbors evacuating their flats either moving out or moving to another city, reduced communication amongst friends and a tensed cloud at work

There are elements my son triggered post his experiments with the play hammer and his encounter with the Lion king which makes this blog interesting for parents and parents to be
I spend more time with my son than I used to 10 days ago, we sit at the dining table and we have a family dinner and I tell stories to my son and I know this increases visualization skills. Sure he may fetch a job as a story teller or a visualiser in any advertising agency with the information dump at the dinner table every evening

His quest of information seems to be increasing and he seems to ask more probing questions few of them: Tell me why – does it not rain heavily? Tell me why – we cannot stand on the sea when the boats can; tell me why – you need to go to office though you get money from the ATM
We are reading more books and the information is cascaded to our little boy.

Though I am not trying to unsell television I am looking at so many positive elements associated without a TV at home.

Sports Sponsorships – Maximizing ROI

Sports sponsorship which integrates advertising, promotions, public relations and sales to reach and touch consumers started somewhere between 1970’s to 1980’s in the United States. I was fortunate to have worked with few sponsorship associations on the ground as a marketing contact for a financial institution and thought of articulating most of my learning’s through this avenue Considering that marketing is always a thank less job it is critical to have a robust plan and gear the team to excel in expectations both within and outside the institution.

We need to look at sponsorship in three phases. Phase 1 being the pre event phase, Phase 2 is during the event and Phase 3 being the post event engagement and wrap up

Phase 1 – Pre Event
1) Art of negotiation: It is very important to know the entitlement of the sponsorship. If it is main or title sponsor the effort in changing the name of the sports event and ensuring our brands presence is indeed herculean. But then what matters most for all publicity is the titles name which gets registered through communication exercises during the build up and during the event 2) Documentation: The preparation for marketing the event normally should start at least five months prior to the event and should have a dedicated team who also handles this event in addition to their day job. Regular updates to senior management on the progress is critical and the best is to have a activity based tracker with clear time lines and responsibilities. Plan your work and Work your plan it is so critical to stick to the tracker.
3) Focus on benefits: If the sponsorship is cascaded from the top which normally is always a case try not to un-sell it. Look at it from a macro perspective to the institution. There are several messages which the brand wishes to communicate through event or sports sponsorships. It may vary from supporting to a cause to supporting players to demonstrating commitment of presence in a specific country or region.
4) Stake holder meeting: It is very important to get to meet all the key stake holders within the institution to map their expectations to the sponsorship. Most of the times it may not be favorable in such avenues it helps to meet their teams to decipher their business objectives which will aid in tying up all the loose ends to write a communication brief
5) Budgets: This is the most difficult part being at the clients end. It is very important to sell the idea of running a cohesive and consistent messaging parallel to the sports event before and during the event to leverage on sponsorships. Always ensure to plan for extra pair of hands as support staff, for food & beverages, check on any VVIP guests who may land in to your stand/kiosk and seek advice on any preferred menu coupled with the regular marketing communications costs within the environment
6) Communication brief: The most difficult job for any marketer to draft a communication brief which would ensure it sells. It is always ideal to look out for specialized agencies which excel in sports communication. The best hook to convince your management is to focus on the sponsorship money and also the proposed marketing budget coupled with business expectations and negotiate your way to invite for a agency pitch. This is never a happy situation for the existing agency but it helps to communicate it upfront and also getting your senior management assure them that the ongoing or future projects will be business as usual with the incumbent agency.
7) Key Proposition: it is always easy to get carried away on propositions. Think out of the box and use clever messaging to integrate the sport with the DNA of your brand. Advertising must sell and it is so critical to map business expectations in the brief. Almost any sport delivers on winning, camaraderie and integrity which in most of the cases is one of the core values of any brand.
8) Internal Stake holders: The biggest critiques for marketing are within. Always factor in internal customer engagement to the sponsorship and work on a calendar to connect to them on list of activities or just a heads up communiqué.
9) Timing : The timing of the communication campaign is critical as there may be resistance from the organizers themselves who are emotional about their equity. The time for customer recruitment and on board experience needs to be factored in if the promotion is hinged on giving away tickets based on consumption
10) Publicity: it is very important to control the publicity to the sponsorship as future brand trackers are hinged on the coverage the brand gets to derive from this association. The best is to integrate PR to your team and work closely with themPhase
2 – During the event

1) On ground Kiosk: No matter how much planning one gets in this somehow seems to be a last minute hiccup project. Make sure the contractor inspects the site/location weeks before and all elements like sun light, possibility of rain, sand storm etc., are factored in while designing the kiosk/stand and there is enough storage facilities for marketing collaterals
2) Protocol: Always ensure you have staff or help in hand who would look at meeter/greeter of senior management visiting the stand or the event. If you can get a list of senior delegates visiting your stand based on the protocol ensure you get the necessary give aways. It is important to remember the best onboard experience is recalled always
3) Schedule of events: Always get the activity schedule from the organizers and ensure to communicate this to your internal customers and also to all senior management. Make sure you retain a copy with you as the project in charge you are always on the guard
4) Distribution of tickets: Perhaps the most tricky area of any event sponsorship. It is very important to get senior management buy in on ticket distribution and also ensuring a robust ticket disbursement process. As a marketing contact you are not only expected to promote it externally but also ensure that your area of seats are not empty during the sports event
5) Television Cameras: This is of great significance. It is very important to get few archive televised matches to see how the camera is angled and how they cover players and the stands. If it is in open area like Golf where the players are in motion then the emphasis is always on the angle at which they capture the players. “A” Board placement along with any banners of the brand is of utmost importance.
6) Plan for contingency: Always ensure you have a vehicle parked at your disposal at all times during the event. You never know what you require in the last minute
7) Meet the press: though this is always your PR managers remit it is important to meet press and encourage them to visit your stand or your hospitality. It is so critical that press sees the efforts your institution has put in this event and this would aid in getting coverage
8) Media Planning: clever media planning including outdoor locations across the venue and also at the airport does increase your brands profile during the event. Spend optimum but ensure you dominate the space. Play hard with your planning and buying team
9) Key elements on measuring Return on Investment: The numerous times press speak about your brand, press mentions, TV Coverage’s and scheduled interviews coupled with your own marketing efforts ensure
10) Briefings: Always have briefing sessions with the entire team if possible twice a day to ensure things are as planned. Technology helps but it is better to carry a walkie talkie too. This will also cut on telephone bills and you may not be sitting across your finance manager explaining each call post the event
Phase 3 – Post event wrap up

1) External : Make sure you budget for at least one last burst of adverting thanking all your patrons and customers during the event
2) Internal: Budget in any rewards based on HR policies to the team which worked on the project and also few mementos
3) Event Report: Before you get on to that next project always ensure to document all the learning’s and significant reminder points to management and also to your team which will be a handy referral for the coming yearWe managed to win an award as the best marketing campaign in financial category for that event and I am sure following these learning’s would be quite helpful to most of you

Good Luck

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Sequel – Death of Television

Sequels work but only if there is a good follow up story to the main lead. Considering that I had many calls from my friends and colleagues on which brand of television is best suited for my home conditions thought must pen this.

It has been a week since my son managed to punish the wild animals which hurt Simba of Lion King. Our home indeed is quieter now. We rediscovered radio and felt how wonderful it is as a medium of entertainment at home.

You can speak face to face without losing eye contact and still have the radio on, you can help your spouse with domestic chores, you can teach your children and help with their home work, and you can play with them whilst you’re entertained.

Radio ignites the creativity of visualizing. Great frequency of radio spots because of its economic costs does propel many advertisers to catch audience and best commercials do help us visualize the product or the brand.

We spend more time talking to each other and also going on a leisure stroll post dinner and are engaged in reading and yeah weekend was so much fun. Fishing, snorkeling, swimming and cycling a perfect creative moment for a happy family.

I believe home minus the television suits the best.

If you are envious … have a solution. Can send my son to your homes for those blissful moment(s)

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Sister Callista

When I read about Jade Goody and her untimely death I travelled back in time to the year 2006, when I visited Kolkata for the first time.

My deepest condolences to Ms. Goody’s family and i pray that her soul rests in peace minus the paparazzi.

During my visits and stay at the Missionaries of Charity, i had met Sister Callista, a nun who was working there from a long time. The missionary resembled a school- a place for freedom, a place for learning, a place for discovering inner self and also the divine perhaps through every brick

My meeting with her was more of by chance as I wanted to donate some US Dollars and due to the restrictions in foreign currency in India, i was asked to validate my address. When I did prove that I live in Dubai, sister Callista spoke for the first time about Dubai.

Her sister was working in a leading local newspaper as a photo journalist and had even received an award from His Highness for her features during the Dubai Shopping Festival.

She passed away in 2004 due to cervical cancer. Her last wish for Sister Callista was to make her see Dubai.

I was informed that they get one month leave after every 12 years ( yes shocking but it is true) and Sister Callista’s next holiday was due in 2007.

I promised her that I will ensure I get her a visitor’s visa to Dubai and also make her see Dubai. She also wanted to get copies of her sister’s last feature on an earth quake in India – in Gujarat. I managed to lay my hands on them and forwarded it to her thanks to the publishers and also some considerate friends.

Using my work contacts i also managed to speak with the Shopping Festival officials and was assured that should there be any issues concerning her visit visa she will be treated as a state guest. Their generosity did touch me..

She visited us during August 2007, thanks to my media friend who helped me get a company visa and I took her around Dubai and also made her meet her sister’s work colleagues and her supervisor.

She got me a photo frame of Mother Theresa which I have it as a memoir in my home. It does help me stay grounded and be able to extend my help by every means that I can.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Death of Television

When I reached home from a long day at work this evening was greeted by my wife with a message that our three and half year old son managed to break our TV one more time. Phew couldn’t hold myself but then within seconds I realized there is no point in giving any sort of punishment to the little star of our lives

Introspection made me feel that deep down we as parents are to be blamed for this. If I need to articulate it - unlike back home we live in a nuclear family, we do interact with neighbors but quite limited, we have never ventured to our friends home uninvited and thus making our son less socially active and also with very little avenues to channel his extremely high energy levels. Visit to parks is limited only over the weekends and his outdoor is restricted under parental supervision for fear of traffic outside our building

There is no play for him once he is back from his kindergarten he is attended by our domestic help who obviously is clinical. Cannot expect anything beyond her role of ensuring he is received from his school bus and he has his quota of food. If he decides to sleep then so be it

What really touched me is the explanation my boy gave me. He was watching Lion king and he was sad on Papa Lion being hurt and killed by a herd of wild buffalos and hence he took his play hammer and punished them.

I felt the home went silent but also loved it because we will have no more avenues but turn to him for our entertainment and also focus on him and educate him and play with him

Though his act will make an impact on my wallet I am glad we will have more time with our little star


Sunday, March 15, 2009


Last evening while driving back from work was listening to a local radio channel and the conversation between the RJ and listeners revolved around recession and what will they do should they be made redundant. Interesting topic and very topical too. I tried several times to reach the channel but realized I am not those lucky few who manage to get across live on air. I so wished to air that during this difficult phase most of our work colleagues, line managers sport a different mask which makes the environment less flexible, less desirable, less motivating to work. Thought of deciphering many such masks which we come across these days

The Brownies: they look at every opportunity to score a brownie point to the line manager – so much so that they even export their ring tones via Bluetooth and save it for the bosses calls. Such is the extent that they even volunteer to park the managers car to ensure they are considered as dependable

I am busy: this is more a recent phenomenon. Most of them do not attend any meetings and the excuse being I am busy. Urgent report to our global office, report to the bosses . Agree perceptions lead to belief – well said by Maslow in his behavioral model

Hyper Mask: PR spin doctors must take a lesson or two from them. They project as if the institution stands on them, very busy always on the phone and always on the move. Never answers to mails or calls. Their net contribution is zero but the overall perception is significantly excellent

Late Nighters: they virtually do nothing during the course of the day but ensure they send all the day’s work through series of mails till late at night ensuring to copy relevant people to manage their roles and performances

Influencers: nepotism does exist in almost all work places. These people wear their god fathers mask and move across the office. You can’t touch them – if the role is made redundant then they move on to another significant role within the organization

Motivators: between all these masks there are still people who believe in working on old school theory. Work hard and leave the rest to the almighty. They speak with conviction and use carefully drafted messages to their team members. They still exist but sure as time progresses they would change their style of masks as they say if you cannot beat them join them

Top of it we have these rating agencies like Moody’s who publish scary reports of the economy which make even Murphy look like an angel.

In testing times hard work and integrity should endure

God Bless

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Dubai Drivers

This morning as I was driving to work thought of this subject more because of the numerous characters one gets to see on Dubai roads during commute. Some scare us with their stunts and some annoy us with their speed and some make us feel as if we are watching a Formula 1 race – anyways I am sure people who drive in Dubai would concur to most of the analysis of these segments

The Terminator: they drive a large SUV or a 4 wheel which resemble trucks. They tail the car ahead and scare the driver – it would appear as if they would just push them away to make way in the busy road

The Zipper: this segment changes lanes as if it’s a Play Station – scary segment to be close to while driving

The Stalker: These drivers behave as if they are up to something constantly chasing cars

The twitter: think this is the most busiest of all – they check their blackberries and send mails while driving on a high way – gawsh no wonder we have so many accidents

The Jaywalkers: a common syndrome may be people do not understand that the approaching vehicles are indeed at 120 Kmph/hour. I did witness a man flying and it was quite traumatic

The Romancers: These drivers behave as if they are in a park on in a café – doing all sorts of annoyance and driving slowly on a 100 km/hour road

Any not to mention those busy women drivers who manage to adjust their hair or apply a lipstick while catching up at a signal

No doubt Dubai is busy and the pace is fast but sense should prevail

Please drive safe

Monday, March 9, 2009

Asian Media Opportunities

In the era of measuring every dirham for return on investment and giving a three page explanation on spend analysis for as little as AED 30,000/- the best media opportunity available for marketers no doubt is Asian Media. Press is dominated by gloomy news across the region. China having 20 Million jobless people, US has some 4.3 Million and more is a depressing read in the morning

The reading habits definitely have taken a beating across UAE and more consumers are switching to radio while travelling and when at home to the idiot box. The TRP’s unfortunately cannot be measured here for lack of proper research but the viewership for all Asian channels including Sony, Zee and Star increased considerably
I believe the best bet to reach Asian consumer is when they are happy and considering the reach and also the ROI – Asian TV seems to be the best bet.

Consider this – A Full Page back page in any of the two leading English titles costs up to AED 50,000 with a frequency of one and it costs up to US $ 225/- for a 15 sec spot in local beams of Asian channels. The same budget can be consumed across one channel for almost one month with a frequency of two spots in prime time

Interesting and clients like us who do not have TV Commercials the best is to have a Flash which is equally appealing and while in this era of econometrics the best bet is to ensure we reach more consumers spending less and convincing them to bank with us

Peer Pressure

We had a long weekend this week and had the pleasure of spending time with spouse and kids. One of the days we had our sons buddy joining us to the park for cycling. Being in Dubai it is important to take children out to the park and let them have some fresh air

Little did I realize that the two kids would be giving us a glimpse of peer pressure. There was the height and size problem with the two cycles and my sons friend refused to cycle as he felt that it is smaller and that is the reason why he is unable to go fast.

It made me go back to my college days and a glimpse of Kotler, where consumer behavior is influenced by cultural, social, political and psychological attributes.

Post some persuasion we managed to convince the kids the art of sharing.

Sure the weekend did make an impact on the kids fathers wallet as he even refused to take the cycle home

Wednesday, March 4, 2009


this morning i received a call from an old media friend.. we shared the same room when we came to this place some 9 years ago ... post exchanging few words he enquired about my job more out of curiosity as suddenly my job is categorized as high risk-- he recently got promoted to head the regional business development and planning unit.

He works for the largest media buying and planning houses and the entire media is virtually at their door steps (literally) so he took the new replacement on a induction trip to his clients offices and strange though the reaction to his new assignment was more negative - almost all of them quipped in a negative fashion as if he is on the radar line of firing.. pity how situations reflect the positive news to a gloom

have been very quiet @ home, we do talk but never like before some times I worry within, i worry when I see the happiness and joy of my family and think to myslf what if we need to go back.. my son may in turn look at me ( as if he is questioning me since he thank fully is in that age where he cannot articulate his thoughts) and say.. hey i dont need a new school i need my group of friends, i dont need this new house i need my home where i was so happy with my neighbourhood ..

but then---- i also dnt seem to have those answers

two senior marketing heads who handle marketing budgets which are parallel to my role and looking for job(s)

my cousin did enlighten me by saying in the US any green card or US citizen gets upto 60% of his previous pay as monthly allowance if he is out of job.. well i think it is more to do with their social security and their taxes which account to almost 35% of their monthly pay checks. since we are in tax free we have no such sops. out of job? two months either leave or get a new job else one is termed as illegal

No matter how much one plans on such though heart in heart we dont want to plan for this but it is just a condition of state but i realise this state of affairs is like sudden death - sounds depressing but a mirror image of fear, apprehension and anxiety of a father and also as a main bread winner for the family i know i m thinking positive and sounding optimistic on future but just a thought ………

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Sports Day

Date: 26 Feb 2009

Last evening when i visited my bosses desk and requested if I may come late to work.. he looked @ me as if I m asking for a pardon to a life convicted prisoner... wel i think considering the time i better take a day off i murmered.. knowing for sure he would jump on it.. I took a day off on a thursday.. ne ways...

went early as directed by my spouse.. as i am coming she said take my car.. i was like no its fine i m fine with my car .. she is like noo.. take my car .. had to oblige.. not that i dont love driving a merc but trouble is any small scratch and shell scratch me like a kaala bandar (delhi6) so why invite trouble was my mantra as i was about to start she came again.. take the camera poor thing.. we must take memories.. agreed i felt.. well one thing i couldnt fathom is why does only fathers r the camera men? i was like u never took a single photo when you went to india for wedding last week? pat came the answer.. huloooo.. it is wedding.. on one haand i was busy with my saree (of course with those stupid matching jewellery she packed from here) and your hyper son what all u expect.. well had to stay quiet.. think even the best of the lawyers across the globe stay quiet @ home as i realise u cant argue with logic to ur wife..

reached a little late i suppose .. my son is in a kindergarten school and in upper nursery.. n he is on the heavier side i feel he is the tallest and the fattest of his entire schoool.. parents are busy taking videos and photographs.. excuse me said a sindhi aunty . she came with her mother(in-law?) and so had to sqeeze out finally i realised by being polite i was in the corner where no one can see me and vice versa.. innovation stuck and sense prevalied in me .. so took a chair and stood on it.. anxious parents were cheering their children.. to come first in the so called running(rat) race.. thank fully due to his size my son came last i was glad... ooh she ran but think we must train her (quipped a mother as her daughter came 5th or 6th) and one anxious mother looked @ her hubby (looked as if he abuses her coz she was scared in her speech) .. haan jee.. next time aap ki gudiya.. first aayegi.. the crude hubby noddeed...

huh domestic violence for a sports day.. ne ways i managed to meet few people and post the races we were to wait in the lobby/reception.. now we are back home.. to be prudent i am now going 2 my bank withdrawing money andgoing to another bank to deposit..

i will save 40 dirhams with this.. but then petrol , time? who cares.. as long u think u r saving for a rainy day..

Temple Visit

Date: 23 Feb 2009

Last evening once I reached home by 6:30 (it was early by any standards ) my son was busy playing in his den and my spouse was busy chatting with our sindhi neighbor – post few minutes I requested – shall we go to the temple – today’s shivaratri my dad called and told me .. ooh never ask me to visit temple and make me say no.. announced my wife but reluctant she volunteered to drive us (me and my son) to the temple and for company she dragged our neighbor as well

The journey from home to the temple is 2 kms so it takes 15 minutes to walk reason for taking the car is to ensure we are back by 8pm as its dinner time for the lil one.. wonder why mothers get so protective on times but any ways since she obliged my request I had to comply with hers as well..

The traffic was bad however finally managed to reach the temples vicinity . ( dubai other than Muscat is known for its religious tolerance – we have a temple close to home and it is the only temple in this country) I managed to steer my son along the crowd and finally we landed in the huge serpentine line but then is it recession or scare or just the religious sentiments? No idea but the temple was packed.. did not want to go back purely coz felt I came all the way so lemme wait..

Since I m with my son there was this ‘family’ line which I managed to get access to.. well there are two lines parallel to each other and one is for family and is quicker.. as in the number of lanes are minimal… families, women, senior citizens , teenage kids forced to go with their parents all are in our line.. a lady with a back less top (blouse) ...walked in.. HARI OOOOM.... said a devotee trying to take his eyes off her back.. ( shocking but huh why wear such in a temple).. a businessman is on the phone.. and the volunteers are sterring the crowd saying. Aaage chalo.. jaldi chalo… well my son managed to pick that and he was also pushing his way .. he managed to learn the art of pushing I thought. So if any case we need to go to Mumbai he can survive in the local trains…

Please switch off your phones.. ooh madam jaldi chalo… uncle please phone bandh… aaap pooja ke liye aaye.. well little does the volunteer know.. the man may be a forex trader who is checking in his dealing room in London and may be is seeking ‘Timely’blessing of shiva for increase in his portfolio… blackberry mania is all over .. people are busy checking their mails.. as if they are getting their pink slips through mails.. any ways our turn came.. my son threw a flying kiss to the idol.. ooh that’s cute quipped a volunteer and gave him laddu. Laddu no good .. said my son and returned.. I had to apologize and take it back

Finally after some 90 minutes we came back .. see I told you todays a busy day remarked my wife and you don’t listen to me.. and also said wonder why hubbies don’t listen to wives.. errrr..


BLOG! What is this all about?” is what my spouse demanded to know. Gerson Da Cunha, one of the greatest Indian advertising gurus once told me – if you cannot sell your creative ideas to your wife, don’t present it to your client – so here I am trying to explain the rationale on my reason to blog, as I did to my beloved till she was thoroughly and thankfully convinced.

I have been working since ‘95 in advertising and communication, post a few years’ stint in Mumbai and then moved to Dubai. Since 2003, I’ve been in financial marketing handling advertising and marketing communications. I live in Dubai and work as Head of Branding and Marketing for a bank.

Oceans of experience and oodles of brimming ideas, just waiting to surface here and demanding my expression... I have been married to Dr. Kiran and we have a small restless wonder Babloo..

So much of interaction and communication and shifting grounds to a foreign land, did compel me to write and express more about what I feel about everything around me. The husband in me always wanted to write about my trials and errors, the professional in me made me realize the importance of sharing best practices which I managed to learn and the father in me made in realize hey I must write about how my world has changed. May be through me...you get to see a bit of you.

I would appreciate if you can go through few of my blogs and leave your feedback