Aishwarya Rao
Yesterdays Metro Plus carried an interesting article on the increasing importance being given to the colors of office interiors. I found myself giving a wide, understanding smile. For me atleast, the look, feel and the color of the cubicle has been a huge motivating factor.

Afterall, it aint easy being serious in a happy office such as this. Just the choice and organization of the colors are so sensitive that I end up being HAPPY the ten hours I spend here! Cheers guys!

Aishwarya Rao
These days on my way to office, I can’t help but notice a red board glow against the early morning sunlight. What was once unmistakably unnoticeable now forcefully grabs your attention every time you take the flyover opposite to Chola Sheraton. Ah! Yet another brand makeover!

Instead of following the irreversible brand life cycle and letting the brand fade away and die, here is an image makeover that will hopefully help 81-year-old LVB remain a 'vibrant' private sector bank. Especially with big players like ICICI, HDFC (respect yourself) Bank of India (We understand relationships) and co. riding on an emotional wave to sell functional accounts and insurance schemes, it was time LVB and co. started creating associations and a clear identity for themselves.
Yet what remains to be answered is whether altering the packaging will itself boost the banks business. While changing the brand image can help alter attitudes, a new and fresh look on the outside not necessarily implies a change in the inside. SBI's ambitious advertising might have won its agency an Effie but it hasn’t reduced the number of frustrated customers who walk out of an out-of-order ATM. Not surprisingly it’s SBI!
In any case I wish LVB's makeover initiatives are not restricted to the fancy outside. Hopefully it must achieve operational efficiency and the desired volume-led growth. An image makeover after all can only strengthen a brands efforts to remain relevant in consumer's life.
Aishwarya Rao

What is common between Don, Casino Royale and Dhoom 2? Apart from hot, shexy men in lead roles, it is Sony Ericsson. Yeah baby, Sony it is. (Before you throw your hands up in the air and scream that Don tied up with Motorola, watch carefully and notice the Ericsson handset and listen to the Sony Ericsson ring tone strategically dropped in an unmistakable sequence!). With marketers constantly trying to place a finger on the best way to capture a TG's attention,product placements that blend with a movie's story-line has emerged as one of the most powerful medium of reaching the audience.

2006's latests Lage Raho Munna Bhai (World Space, Go Air), Don (Motorola Razr,Mercedez), Casino Royale (Heineken,Sonly,Ford, Virgin Atlantic), The Departed (Budweiser, Chevrolet, Motorola, CocaCola) and Dhoom 2 (Coca Cola) are not only a treat for product placement watchers but have also reinforced several brand names in the audience's mind. And considering gadgets like mobile phones and laptops fit naturally in these movies, the audience have been thankfully saved of some on-the-face 'unwieldy' brand appearances.
However, as brands start integrating themselves with story lines and product placements get standardised, it is important that marketers avoid critical faux pas.A movie fanatic with an observant eye, a friend of mine noticed a Pepsi bottle on Abishek Bachans kitchen table in Dhoom 2. A sony ericsson ring tone when Motorazr pays through its nose to be associated with Don!
Yet for international brands, these integrations is one of the most effective ways to reach out to global audience without being too scrag about it. Call them advertainment, brand integration, product placement, the covert advertisment is the hottest kid on the block and a brands next bet to return on inverstment! Guys, any Indian agencies that provide movie-integration services as yet? Drop a line and we will place Navaratha Thel on Yash Chopra's head!
Aishwarya Rao
Continuing the discusion on identical brands, here are three sets of very similar logos that come to my mind. What irks is the fact that they belong to the same product category! I am confident there are quite a few prominent ones over there which I am missing out. Drop a line and let me know!

Lacoste, a French apparel brand was founded in 1933. Crocodile International in 1947. legal battle concerning the infringement of the Lacoste trademark by Crocodile International is still pending. In the meanwhile, in 2004, a Shangai court decreed that Lacoste had violated CI's trademark. The battles continue.
Honda, a Japanese motor company established in 1948. Hyudai, Korea's largest car maker was founded in 1967. Whats with the H? Really!

Audi, a German automobile manufacturer since 1964. Before, Audi merged with Horch, DKW and Wanderer to form Auto Union in 1932, Auto Union had used the four interlinked rings that to represent the four brands.
Technical Olympic is a group in Greece with diverse operations ranging from construction, tourism, wind energy, to wine. Its parent company, Pelops was founded in 1965 and it became Technical Olympic in 1981. You cant miss the pattern of the rings! Although they dont belong to the same category, theres an unmistakable similarity.
Aishwarya Rao

Last Thursday I blew what was left of my last salary on an identical hot-shot-GIORDANO corporate bag. On Saturday morning when I noticed that the leather skin had peeled at the straps, I rushed to their outlet with a puppy face and the copy of the bill. The very adequately trained staff explained that they would certainly do something about it. On Sunday afternoon, they called to say that I could visit their store and choose any replacement. When I walked in, they welcomed me with a smile and took me to their storeroom. The staff apologized about the inconvenience and explained that the company had decided to remove the entire line from display until the problem was solved. They didn’t want any other customer to face a similar problem. Jeez, was I stunned or was I stunned?

In Symbi, 'Customer Delight' was worse than profanity. It figured in every inane PowerPoint presentation and was the ultimate word to use in a marketing classroom discussion. Of course the term is not reserved for classroom discussions, with every press release and brand story using it like a preposition. Although today, almost every marketer claims that his focus his 'customer delight', very few live up to it. When was the last time a low cost airline lived up to its reputation for providing speedy and reliable air services? When was the last time India's second largest bank's customer care actually cared for the customer? A brand doesn't need an Aamir Khan or a Tulsi Irani to take you around a plant and endorse the safety of the drink. In my opinion what it needs is to live up to its values. This will naturally resound in its equity.

An international apparel brand, Giordano with a mission of making people "feel good" & "look great" has proved that words like corporate vision, mission and customer delight are more than marketing balderdash! At a time when Customer is the Queen, Giordano has truly stolen my heart!

Aishwarya Rao
"One of man's advatages over the lower animals is that he is the most imitative creature in the world"- Aristotle

It seems like copycat tendencies are not restricted to chick lit authors who are unconscious that they are plagiarizing. Look at how INTIMATE has imitated Herbal Essences.

I am amazed by the pains they have taken to be so sincere and perfect about the whole act of being identical or confusingly similar to competition. Rather uninspiring strategy to adopt. It is different from imitating the strategies of a market leader or even following the competitor in which case the company is at least trying to imitate success. This is simply cheap-jack behavior.

Herbal Essences must initiate legal proceedings against this guy. Imitation might be inherent to human nature, but infringement is certainly actionable.
Sadly, at the end of the day what rules is caveat emptor! Of course.

Aishwarya Rao
Tamil small screen has a skewed idea about reality tv. To the content team at these huge media houses, 'reality' ironically implies successfully influencing the lady at home to weep along with the troubled heroine of Nimmadhi (peace), Sorgam (Heaven) or Anandham (Happiness).

The only compensation is that the once content starved viewer(remember the times we naakka chottufied for Friday's Oliyum Olium) has come a long way.

But at a time when Sun Network, South India's media machan is smiling at the sky-rocketing TRPs of its soaps and film based programmes, Star Vijay is standing up blodly and offering some refreshing moments to the oh-the-soap-killed-me tamil tv fanatic. While Star Vijay's concepts are not particularly ingenious (with most of their weekend programming borrowed from Star's successful ventures) , in my opinion, the execution of some innovative, non-soap content is presently the saving grace for tamil small screen ventures. If the latest rage in the country is reality tv, Vijay TV is riding high on the wave, not restricitng itself to inane money-hunting game shows.

Both Airtel Super Singer (Namma Ooru Indian Idol ) and Garnier Jodi No:1 (Nach Baliye 2 is on! Namba ippothaan 1 la irukkum!!) are thourougly developed talent hunts. Both shows have managed to showcase the drama, emotions, humor, devotion of ordinary people in the most appealing way. The extraordinary charm of 'ordinary' people has done the trick for Vijay TV.

Q3Jeyyam Grandmaster is probably not tamizhanin hot favourite, but the 'Reverse Quiz' is a striking contrast to the how-to-pick-gold-coins contests running on every other channel! The programme with ith its combination of the 'ordinary' and the intellect, is almost as interesting as RMKV's reversible saree.

Falling under the genre of celebrity reality is the local twin of Koffee with Karan. With a makeover from Nescafe Koffee with Suchi to Alive! Koffee with Anu, the show has managed to introduce a warm flavour to tamil celebrity chat shows. ..A rather disappointing duplicate The Great Indian Laughter Challenege is Hutch Kalakkapovadhu Yaaru, but atleast Vijay TV is making an effort to move away from the Manaivi (Wife), Kanavurukaaga (For the husband), Penn (Woman) of the world. Authoratative research reveals that everyone's watching Nimmadhi (peace) in Sorgam (heaven), but now Vijay seems to taking the bull by the horns and asking Neeya, Naana? Kalakkapovadhu Yaaru?!

Aishwarya Rao
I have been feeling disturbed for a while now. When i recount the days happenings to mum every evening she says " you must vent your anger creatively". Here goes the reason for my silence in the past 3 weeks.

Oh! 'the-greatest-loser-around'
You want to be my friend. I want to hide under the table.
You want to look at my watch. I know you are getting touchy.
You kneel to look at my computer screen. You think it is getting sexy. I think your armpits stink.
You want my comments on your dressing sense. A)I am not a fashion diva. B) It is stupid!
You want to know me better. I wish I had never known you in the first place.
You think I look great in red. I want to give you a tight slap and see your face turn red.
You think you are attractive. I think you are wrong.
You give me the creeps when you mention 'informal interactions'.
You stare indecently. I can see it.
You inner thighs itch the moment i walk in. I can almost see it.
You are lewd. I just realized.

Arrrrrgggh! I admit. I admit. Being a woman in a corporate world is difficult. All for the wrong reasons. (*folds fist. bites lips. is pissed*)
Aishwarya Rao

PS: Read previous post to understand author's inspiration.
PPS: The image above is an original work of this author. I have borrowed the man's face from Getty. Any resemblance to any co-worker is bloody intentional.
Aishwarya Rao

Chennai is probably not the only one, but it is definitely most popular for the diametric dance forms it nurtures. On one hand is the classical dance Bharathanatyam and on the other is the korava (nomads) dance Dappankuthu, both enjoying a celebrated status. With its racy and uninhibited style Dappa (Tamil for a tin can) Koothu (feverish celebration) has an authentic Tamil flavor to it. Track back to the song Maana Madurai’ in Minsara Kanavu where Prabu Deva and co. dance to some irresistible Saavu Koothu (funeral dance) beats and that is exactly what I am referring to. In a city like Chennai that is tight rope walking to manage its traffic, crowds in a 'Dappakuthu' frenzy leading a wedding or funeral procession is still a common sight!

A madichukattified (tied so as to reveal thighs) lungi (A garment, usually checked, worn around the torso by South Indian men), a foot-tapping 'Gaana Paatu' (Koothu Song), the rhythmic whistle, occasional steps amidst idupa odachyfying (skewed hip shakes that will put Shakira to shame!), mandatory pelvic thrusts, a beer bottle and a poo malai (garland). For the uninitiated the above are typical characteristics of the Dappankuthu.

And since cinema is a reflection of reality, Kollywood is full of these numbers, thanks to music director Deva who pioneered an entire genre of racy and infectious 'Gaana’ numbers.

My earliest memory of Dappa-Gaana double treat is ‘Lalaku Dol Dabhi Mafrom the movie Suryan and the mesmerizing Rakkama Kaya Thatu from Dalapathi. Add Vasool Raja's 'Seena Thana' to the list and you can come up with certain Dappankuthu standard. Here goes - the leading lady must wear a bust hugging kutti (small) backless blouse (yechuchme, apdina adhu kerchief aache!), an umbrella paavadai (knee length skirt) compulsorily revealing the belly button and one ribbon like duppata loosely swung on her shoulders. We don’t care much about the men except that a kerchief (no we are not taking about the lady's blouse!) must be tied around their necks. What follows is some assal (authentic) koothu, with hip, butt and every other shake that is possible!

Yet another traditional Dappakuthu ritual is including the Holy Lord in the scheme of things. Prabu Deva starrer 'Yappa Yappa Aiyappa' and 'Thirupathi Ezhumale Venkatesa' are classic examples of the secular nature of the dance. While Deva introduced 'Gaana Paatu' in modern Kollywood, Prabu Deva kick-started a whole new generation of Koothu dances with ‘Peta Rap’, ‘Kaathu Adikuthu’ and the much enjoyed ‘Kasu Mela’!

Hold on, while a racy number is only a rule, exceptions to this rule can also be classified as konacham (little) slow koothu. The latest ‘Vazahameen’ (see picture) that took the city by rage is set in a less feverish pace but is absolutely realistic nevertheless. So is Tippu'-sung ‘Kapakalangu with key Dappa Bashai like ‘aithalaka’ which had men and women dancing with folded tongues and performing slow motion Dappa scenes!

A probably more refined form of Dappa was ‘Manmatha Rasa’ where Dhanush danced in an unparalleled frenzy (thala kaal puriyama)! These are modern numbers where the women dressed in trousers (tight blouse remains a constant) give soooper competition to their male leads. Vijay and Simran in 'Aal thota Bhoopathi', Chimbu and Jyothika in 'En Aasai Mythiliye' are probably the much remembered duo Dappa performances! Not to forget the best of them being Vijay and Trisha in 'Apdi Podu' which to date remains the peppiest koothu scene in Kollywood.

Then there are Dappa-Gaana combos like ‘O-Podu’ which surpassed all standards in energy levels! Several Vikram and Vijay starrers like ‘Kalyanam thaan’ and ‘Kai Kai Kai’ come very close yet don’t make it because of the order and coordinated dance movements. Remember, we are talking about Dappankuthu here where there is no restrain, only racy refreshment! Namma Dappankuthu, Semma soooodu machi!!!

Aishwarya Rao
Just days after Coca Cola wrote to CSE offering support on establishing clear criteria for pesticides residues in soft drink,an official experts' committee has thrashed the CSE for using unscientifc testing methods and basing accusations on inconclusive results. - A classic example of how public relations and government lobbying can and will deliver.
Aishwarya Rao

Diploma: document certifying the successful completion of a course of study

Display:exhibiting openly in public view

Rao:a sommon surname found by immigrants from India (Bree & Me)

Award:prize: something given for victory or superiority in a contest or competition

Aishwarya Rao
On 3rd of April last year, I met two of my now very good friends for the first time. It turned out to be an unforgettable evening. Not that we were at TGIF cutting table tissues with bar knives...but we were engaged in a 3hr discussion on the differences between sexes. I clearly remember the madness. Me, trying to prove that classical conditioning is the reason why men and women behave the way they do, my good friend refuting it by citing biological evolution as the fundamental trigger and the third sipping cold coffee, with a hopelessness about life and his 2 companions.

Today I came across this article in The Economist. It takes a while but definitely worth the read.

While the article concludes that reasons more biological than external (such as cultural stereotyping) might explain behavioural differences between men and women, the conclusion is based more on compilation of experiments than on any substantial evidence. It is apparent that most of the social science experiments have been carried out on men and women than on new-borns (which might be important if one wants to prove that people are born with certain abilities and preferences).

Next the results of these experiments (such as who has better math/verbal ability...or who is more aggressive?) on behavioural patterns show negligible gaps which are often generalized and mass extrapolated for the sake of convenience . With -0.02 as the difference between men and women on a range of variables such as math/verbal ability/reading comprehension, it is grossly inappropriate to conclude that men have better math skills and women better verbal skills.

Since the list can go on, it still remains to be seen through experiments with minimum limitations generating conclusive evidence, whether it is biological factors or classical conditioning that impacts behavioural patterns. So long, we might as well enjoy reading such well presented and balanced arguments.
Aishwarya Rao

No invitation this time. Happened to be there by accident. Caught him at the launch of Golden Stag, a book by Sivasundari Bose. Kamal didnt need an introduction - His sadhana over several decades is etched in the minds of three generations that will stand by its Punnagai Mannan even when he is on his Mumbai Express!

PS:I have heard that silence speaks volumes. Kamal's luminous presence & magnetism was a narration of the artiste's strength. And needless to say he was looking semma hot machi!
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Aishwarya Rao
I have been reading IBM’s Global CEO Study 2006 and I loved this particular quote
“Constant reinvention is the eternal necessity at GE…” – Jeffrey Immelt, Chairman & CEO, GE.
For a while now I have maintained that it’s an insatiable need for change that drives me…But negating my own concepts about life, I am sucker for rigid systems, rules and structures…yawn…I feel like the fly stuck inside my brain. if only I could figure where those ears are…
Aishwarya Rao
For the first time ever I cried after watching 'football'. My heart went out to the Argentine players who apart from being favourites played a strong game with some battlish emotion in every kick. It is a misfortune that they met Germany at this stage and got eliminated in the most unfashionable manner, further adding to the hosts' confidence. It is a curse that the football's greatest teams be judged by a one man - one man penalty shoot out!
However, considering its a game, excuses like wrong decisions, home ground advantage etc; will not stop us from acknowldeging that last evenings' was one of the most fantastic matches in the recent past. Through most of the match, I felt like Sidney Sheldon heroine about to crack the mystery behind a gruesome murder "As she sat in the edge of her seat, her long elegant legs firmly placed next to eachother, she could hear her heart beat faster than ever...Her mind was racing..."
However much I try to console myself, I cant forget those images. If anything, yesterday's match has left behind some immortal memories! But i still wonder...Why did Arg's goalie suffer an injury mid air? Why didnt Lehmann suffer from temporary give-a-goal syndrome?
If God is in heaven how will all be well with the world?
Aishwarya Rao

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Aishwarya Rao

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Aishwarya Rao
Today's fortune:
The great pleasure in life is doing what people say you cannot do
Aishwarya Rao
No!!! Not like that. I am not anti IIT. This just caught my attention!
And talking of IIT, I met an extradordinary gentleman today. A rare combination of sinful brilliance and jaw-dropping 'sociable' quotient. The city's top lawyer, he is genuinely amiable and well disposed, something which is a rarity when it comes to people of his experience, exclusivity and status. During the interaction he had his audience's arrested to their seats and I sat there, excited like a kindergarten kid, as he spoke effortlessly about all those stuff I desperately mugged during graduation. (Deivame! On kaala koncham kaami!!) I love these opportunities. Never miss a chance to catch the shadow of a genius like him! After all one doesn't need to be 'Caveat Emptor' and to intend puns, this particular post does not have a title!
Aishwarya Rao

'Axe unlimited academy' and the more recent 'Sunsilkgangofgirls'(an online all girl community) clearly show how marketers are taking the 'interactive' online medium much more seriously than we imagine. From 42 crores in 2003-04, Indian online advertising spend is @ 162 crores today and is estimated to rise upto 218 crores by next year.

In the % share of Online Ad Revenue Across Categories released by IAMAI, Telecom, Entertainment, Automobile, FMCG & Consumer Durables have increased spends keeping in mind that majority of their target audience (belonging to the age group of 18-45 years) have gone 'full-on online' today! Infact, this age group is the largest consumer of beauty products and this explains why brands like Axe and Sunsilk have quickly caught on to the 'interactive' buzz.
All said, I guess it has a lot to do the with the brand itself. I mean imagine 'Margo Land' or 'Medimix Unlimited' !

So it seems like we are a classic bunch of people waiting to be tapped and marketers will even build islands to try them on!
Aishwarya Rao
My room garlanded with streamers, balloons popping out from weird angles, flashy but crisp papery stuff coiling all over the ceiling, round and inviting chocolate cake with whipped cream, choco sticks and creamy chewy stuff pleasantly wishing 'Happy Birthday Ash', party poppers, two 2 candles placed delicately over the cake (burning in some unspoken thrill) white Santa cap that finally found an owner, calls from near and dear ones, hugs & kisses from the nearest and dearest, not so cliché gifts, web camming the midnight celebration…this is one of my most celebrated birthday moment in a long while. (Remember RA, last time I spent the day with 'M' in a blasted meeting!)After what seemed to be ages, I finally turned 22! a & you know who shared this historic moment. hehe (Thanks guys for all the loads of fun!)

Missed (globe-trotter) Mom. Enjoyed wearing new clothes and shoes. Forgot to make resolutions, Spent more than an hour on Orkut replying to some freak-ass 300 budday wishes! Felt nice when boss said “The whole office seems to be excited about your birthday”, Laughed heartily over pizzas, pastas and pepsi, Cried coz I felt weird, Wished some of you were here (Yes Ash, Ami, Abhi, Navin, Ramya, Sush, Sesh…why you guys so far away?!), Loved the attention, Smiled for the longest time in a while, Prayed that the year ahead must be as exciting and more, Hogged on Paati’s vendakai special and now blogging with little feeling of having grown up in life!!!

Relishing this moment, looking forward to more celebrations this year, but shooore don’t wanna grow up!

Coz they say a picture is worth a 1000 words, I will spare you the trouble of reading a looooong self obsessed essay!

Oh btw, next budday celebration in Santa Maria! Wanna join ?

Aishwarya Rao
With gradually increasing health consciousness and environmental issues strangling multinationals, the colas of the world are beginning to lose their fizz... While it might be ages before these colas are banned, the companys are sure gearing up to the future. Atleast Pepsi Co is. The other day I came to know their Cheetos is now largely made with soy proteins...and now this!

I am happy that they have some concerns in life other than how to make dogs, cats and rats drink colas!
Aishwarya Rao
...had there been reservations!

Ekalavya would have gained admission as Drona's student. He would have beaten Arjun to become the world's greatest archer. Highly disappointed and thoroughly helpless, Arjun would have sought admission under a much more expensive Guru, Parasurama. Consequently he would have lead a miserable life after being admitted in a school of archery that not only cost him more but also wasn’t in the recognized list of schools to participate in Draupadi's Swayamwara. Arjun would have never met Draupadi and she would have never been Paanchali.

In the meanwhile Ekalavya would have lost his right thumb, brought all his tribal colleagues into the school, participated in the Swayamwara, married Draupadi and lived happily ever after!!!


Arjun Singh is sitting and farting in his chair while the anti-reservation agitation is raging in the country. What is the government suggesting? That we pay further for the blasted atrocities that Drona committed 1000 years ago? There are adequate if not grossly overflowing reservation policies in the education system already. If the OBC's can’t make it into a 'prized' stream on their own MERIT (read acquiring the expected/accepted cut off mark/%) then TOO BAD.

Really, looking at the pace of the current agitation, the government might be letting things go too far. If you observe the map carefully, there are already a couple of southern states who have either remained neutral or have shown full support to Arjun Singh in this noble cause like our good old Tamil Nadu (a state which is forehead deep in casteism and is now strongly held by a political party that favors the elevation of the so called lower castes!). Given this rate the protests will grow several monster heads. Yes, there will be Muslim, Christian, Hindu, North Indian, South Indian, Tamil, Brahmins, Iyer, Vadama,Iyengar, Vellala, Rich, Poor, (unfortunately) middle class, male, female, others, losers and the government will be successful in duplicating the British administrative model of Divide and Rule. The politicians of this country will screw us upside down and we will orgasm at the end of it all (in pain or pleasure would depend) because we happily voted for them all.

Reminds me of what Roosevelt said, "A man who has never gone to school may steal from a freight car; but if he has a university education he may steal the whole railroad". Go ahead and give them 90% reservation. We will after all protest now, get hit, and shot at, beaten and arrested. Then we will pay for the sin of voting you to power. For all your political games - Hum Hai na. (Guinea Pigs).Hum Hai na.
Aishwarya Rao

Arvind Swamy in his first film (as lead hero) Roja.

Arvind Swamy,in NDTV's election feature "Chennai Talks to Barkha".

Epdi irundha avaru ipdi ayitare!!!