MAM

Twinkle twinkle little star…


By VINAY KANCHAN

Celebrity endorsement - only to be considered if client wants an answer right then, you have to really use the urinal and he is preventing you from doing that.
Hence the usage of the legendary expression "a star often brings relief to a tired advertising strategy"


"Let us revisit the brief" began Mr. Bose (the client), sweat dripping down his forehead faster than the asking rate going up when Anil Kumble is at the crease.


"The only thing that I am going to revisit is the loo!" boomed PP (the creative director), as he stormed out of the room, obviously ‘pissed‘ with the situation.The agency and the client had been locked in the conference room over the past three hours trying to figure out the next years campaign for the brand. Twelve routes, seven creative iterations and seventy-three teacups later there was still no consensus. PP‘s latest outburst had caused Mr. Bose‘s heartbeat to pick up a few notches. He had to nail this campaign today for his meeting with the management the next morning.
Mr. Bose glanced in Vikas‘s (the servicing head on the account) direction like a hapless seal whose path to the beach has been cut off by a pack of killer whales.


"Don‘t worry Mr. Bose" said Vikas with acidic calm, briefly pausing to adjust the alignment of his tie in Mr. Bose‘s glasses. "We shall finalize this campaign today. One way or the other. Ram why don‘t you recap what has happened so far?"


Ram Shankar, the account executive on the business, was busy milking the applause after receiving his gold medal for the 100-meter dash at the Athens games when he heard his name being announced on the public address system. He glanced around the stadium and sadly only the same painfully familiar faces were registering-Vikas, Mr. Bose, Madhur Lele (Bose‘s assistant) and the ‘back from the pee pot‘ PP. And none of them looked like applauding right now.


"We started the day with" began Ram, knowing not what he would say further but just hoping for a divine intervention nonetheless.
"Forget all that rubbish" Cut in PP, as usual twirling his trademark moustache "Just tell us what we should do next. I am tired of hearing all these jargons being thrown at me. Nothing these guys are saying is making any kind of sense. I need a perspective from someone who as yet has been ‘unbastardised‘ by the profession. So tell us what should we do?"


There are moments that win you Oscars. In an amazing display of calm when all else was collapsing inside, Ram composed himself for one such nomination. He needed some kind of harmless suggestion that would deflect the spotlight off him and
back onto the core members whose responsibility it was to take these informed decisions.


As he closed his eyes to think he felt a teacup nestle in his hands and the whispering of sagely words of wisdom.
"Old Chinese Proverb. When in doubt, look to the stars"
Chai-La (the mystical Chinese canteen boy) spoke thus and disappeared into a starburst on a poster layout. "Maybe we could use a star." Ram ventured carefully. For a minute there was absolute silence in the room


Then there was an accurate simulation of the Big Bang theory, in terms of decibel level at least. Mr. Bose was the first to speak "That‘s a new route. We have never tried that before."
PP " Celebrity endorsement is not a route it‘s just an expression mechanism" Bose "How come you are spouting jargon now?"
Vikas "And as far as I know no one from the competition is doing it."


"Well it is possibly the only strategic way in which our brand can achieve salience while at the same time clearly adding aspirational values"


That was the one and only Madhur Lele. First name Madhur. Endowed by parents. Last name courtesy the general public.
"Why can‘t you talk sense for once" hollered PP, "Remember that we are in the business of selling creams that cure itches, aspirational bolta hain…"


"Madhur I think you need to be oriented on the brand still" Mr. Bose added his two bits. "Madhur dude. Just give it a rest," chirped in Vikas. And those were the comments that were just vocalized. Need any more clarifications on the last name?


"The question now arises whom do we sign up?" began Mr. Bose.
"Male or female star?" enquired Vikas. "This is the absolute pits," added PP, rather helpfully. "What about the Big D?" asked Madhur Lele, eager to salvage some pride. " The Big D? He is about as exclusive as an accountant with spectacles, I mean the man is just everywhere, from colas to chocolates to banks to social causes. The only thing that he does not endorse is sanitary napkins. I guess that‘s because they did not get him in the right period…"


PP‘s tirade was cut off by the peals of laughter that resounded in the room. Madhur Lele was left looking redder than an LG ‘preserve nutrition‘ frozen tomato. "But he is very popular and seems to be doing great in his second inning." "What do you want? An autograph? That can be arranged. But in what way does he fit our brand?" "He will add image." "For an itching cream …kiss my"
"Sweet dreams goodbye" interjected Vikas, aptly doing the ‘servicing‘ thing and preventing the discussion from assuming anatomical proportions.


"What about taking a woman?" asked Mr. Bose, devouring a plate of biscuits in between. "Why? Which female in her right mind will agree to do something like that? And it‘s for ringworm, I mean that‘s what the brand is meant to address…we usually show guys in the advertising. A woman might not go down well," argued PP
"On the other hand it just might break the clutter," quipped Vikas


"What might help is an idea." "No PP listen to us for once. I don‘t want any idea. I just want a starlet" Mr. Bose boomed banging his fist down on the table to underline the point. "Which is why the brand is where it is Bose. You and your spineless..." "…Less might work," said Vikas, doing his servicing thing again. "Especially if she is dressed in very little clothing. We could explore the phenomenon of ‘crotch itches‘ amongst woman." "There is no such thing," hollered PP, "stop getting your personal fantasies to work"
"But he has a point there in a way at least that way our brand will get a sexy positioning."


There was a stunned silence in the room.


"I was only kidding," said Mr. Bose, interpreting the pause very well. "I‘m sure you were," muttered PP under his breath
Just then the President of the agency walked in. "Hey fellows what‘s happening?" "We want to use a female star in our commercial for itching creams." began Vikas. "Excellent, splendid and all that, just use my third wife, you know she had some small bit parts in horror movies, she will fit the brand to a T"


"But…" began everyone present in the room. "She will work for free" cut in the President. That was all Mr. Bose wanted to hear, he did a little jig and danced out of the room. Madhur Lele trailed behind at a phase difference of 90 degrees, different dancing style.


"You still with her Sir?" Vikas could not help asking. "Are you mad. Consider this part of her alimony," said the President, laughing his way out of the room. PP stormed out as well, throwing the papers in his hand all over the room. Vikas smiled at Ram, indicating that those were important papers and he needed to pick them up. Dirty chore delegated he whistled his way into the cafeteria.


As Ram sat at the conference room table with papers all around him he saw a teacup appear magically before him. "Some say come home to the stars…but for some the stars are already home, sorry bad one…HA HA HA," said Chai-La as he disintegrated because of the vibrations caused by his own maniacal laughter.


Ram silently began cursing every celebrity in the market in alphabetical order.


After stints at Lowe, Mudra and Everest the author is now with Triton as Associate Vice President Brand Services. In additiion to that he is also patron saint of Juhu Beach United - a movement that celebrates obesity and the unfit ‘out of breath‘ media professional of today. To join up contact vinaykanchan@hotmail.com


(The views expressed here are those of the author and indiantelevision.com need not necessarily subscribe to the same)

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