Ambi M.G. Parameswaran (for Info only, not official)

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Ambi M.G. Parameswaran

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    ...There were around 200 of us; 18 were women. One interesting piece of trivia emerged from that survey. It was found that there were 78 students who were Tamil Brahmins; and that too Iyers (Iyengars not included). I was reminded of this trivia as I saw students of the Class of 2017 walk up onto stage to receive their postgraduate programme (PGP) diplomas from the chairman of the board of governors of IIM-C. Thanks to technology, as students walked up onto the stage one by one, their photographs flashed on the big LED screen, giving the audience a larger-than-life passport picture of each one of them and their names. Sitting on stage, watching the process start, I got my fellow governor and a faculty nominee on the board to play an interesting game. I quickly told him about the “Iyer” phenomenon of the late 1970s and asked him which in his opinion would be the most popular name among the IIM-C PGP students. ...

    Live Mint on Nov. 15, 2017, 12:17 a.m.

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    ...Some media, according to McLuhan, provoke us, involve us and seek to make us react. Those, according to him, were ‘hot’. Then there is media that is one-way—you receive the message passively and are cool to their touch—those are ‘cool’ media. I wonder what he would say if he were to examine the kind of messages that consumers share on social media. Will he term some of his friends ‘hot’ and some ‘cool’? The concept of hot and cold media flashed in front of me as I saw the waiter serve us hot soup, but my host was getting even more heated up. He explained that he had just received a message in one of the WhatsApp groups about a new storm approaching Mumbai shores. But apparently the ‘forwarded as received’ friend had shared news that was more than a few years old. ...

    Live Mint on Sept. 29, 2017, 1:41 a.m.

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    ...It was always discreetly packed in an old newspaper or a brown paper bag, and then slid across. Indranil Bhoumik/Mint Marketing literature has a few studies that speak about the challenge of selling what are termed ‘unmentionable products’. Often sanitary pads, tampons and condoms are included in this category. No wonder that in the 1980s and 1990s, Doordarshan, the government-owned television monopoly, did not allow sanitary pad advertising till kids were asleep, i.e. after 10pm. Curiously, government-sponsored ads for family planning and condoms used to be aired during prime time. Young girls who should have learnt about sanitary pads never got to see the ads till they were much older. Sanitary pad companies had to train chemists on the fine art of selling a sanitary pad. It was never handed over to the customer across the counter. It was always discreetly packed in an old newspaper or a brown paper bag, and then slid across the counter. ...

    Live Mint on Aug. 11, 2017, 1:39 a.m.

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    ...India’s hair care market is on fire and has become the hot new battle ground for cosmetic brands. Some years ago men used to go quietly to their favourite barber shop for their monthly ritual. Barbers were, and still are, garrulous people and while we got our hair cut we were captive audience to their tirade about rising prices, the Indian cricket team’s performance and the problems with our economy. In fact, even kings of yore would listen to their barber quite tamely; it pays to be nice to someone running a razor over your throat. Today the good old barber shop is no more. It is a salon. And some have even become unisex. Shelling out Rs100 is no longer the norm; for special care you often spend more than 10 times that amount. Even global hair salon brands are making their presence felt. How did all this happen? The seeds of change were sown by the hair dye industry. Hair dye was rebranded “hair colour” and was finally out of the closet. ...

    Live Mint on June 6, 2017, 1:04 a.m.

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    ...In that ad, a little kid is spotted by the friendly village postman and is tempted to return home since ‘Mummy garma garm jalebi bana rahi hai!’. There was a time when almost all the kids in Indian ads were cute saying the nicest things, and here is a sampler: I love you Rasna; I am a Complan Girl / I am a Complan Boy; Dadaji Badminton! ; Mummy Bhookh Lagi Hai! But these days, we are seeing a different narrative with respect to parenting in ads. Kids are no longer just cute. And it is no longer ‘Jalebi treatment’ for them. In a recent ad for the milk food drink Bournvita, we saw a mom running a gruelling race with her son, and claiming proudly that the day her son beats her is the day she will accept victory. Well, the Hindi movie Dangal, too, showed a very aggressive side of parenting, if you recall. ...

    Live Mint on March 24, 2017, 1:02 a.m.

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    ...It is rumoured that one of the side-effects of demonetisation was the collapse of the impulse category, especially chocolates and soft drinks. Imagine the following dialogue and you will know why this may be true: “Mom, I am feeling tired (I did my test well / I behaved well in school/ I did not spoil my clothes / I ate the lunch you packed for me). Can I buy a chocolate. The new one? Please.” “Most certainly, my dear. But not today. You see, mom does not have enough cash, rupee notes. I told you yesterday, I need the rupee notes to buy milk and vegetables (with a smile)!” Many a mom must have used the excuse of shortage of small notes to get their kids off the chocolate treat for a day, or more. However, if you look at the Indian chocolate landscape, you are bound to believe that the floodgates have suddenly opened in the category. demonetisation is just a short-term black swan event that none of these chocolate pioneers could have predicted, to be fair. ...

    Live Mint on Feb. 18, 2017, 1:44 a.m.

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    ...While it was not the first refined sunflower oil brand to be launched in India (Flora from Hindustan Lever had a head start), Sundrop raced to the top of the branded oil table. Sundrop was the first oil brand to be packaged and sold in a transparent PET jar. The brand’s claim ‘Healthy oil for healthy people’ was supported by the ITC corporate promise of ‘Buy pure be sure’. The company therefore thought that it is apt that the oil should be packed in a transparent jar. (It also experimented with a ‘bag in box’ which failed). It was in 1990 that I was witness to a debate on the impact of economy packs on premium brands. Sundrop was not marketed in a plastic pouch pack for a couple of years after its launch, while the other leading brands such as Flora and Postman were available in pouch packs. The company felt that pouch packs, given the way they are shipped, stored and marketed, would destroy the premium brand value. ...

    Live Mint on Jan. 4, 2017, 1:45 a.m.

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    ...One interesting example she speaks about is how hotels tried getting their guests to reuse the towels, to avoid unnecessary laundry/water use. In one set of rooms, they had put up a poster saying how much water is saved if a guest reuses his towels when he stays for two nights and how the water saved can have a positive impact on the environment. In a matching set of rooms, a different poster, this time saying that 83% of the guests who stayed in the rooms reused their towels. When the behavioural experiment results were tallied up, the difference between the two sets of rooms was nothing less than dramatic; the behaviour-reinforcing rooms outperformed the attitude-changing message rooms by a factor of 3:1. ...

    Live Mint on Nov. 22, 2016, 1:13 a.m.