Big on Small Screen, again!

Half a decade later, I am back on TV.

In 2010, it was #RideonTheTop on #ETV speaking about “Air Action by Mentos Launch Campaign”.

In 2016, I was invited to speak on the “Digital Marketing in Digital Bangladesh” on #YoungNite of #ATNNews

Felt more like a “coming of age” compare & contrast.
A boy had become a man.
An amateur to an expert.

In 2010, I was thinking creative in advertising working for Ogilvy & Mather
In 2016, I am drawing blue maps in digital services working for Robi Axiata

Still a very much thinker but also a part time blogger. Enjoy!

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Mastering the Digital with Michael Leander: Part 2

Day 2 was much more engaging and useful. Many thanks to Mr. Leander for that. Although I felt he was having a real hard time managing time through the 2-day workshop, his honesty and transparency about it was admirable.

On to other things, the greatest learning in this workshop was CBM as a concept. Without a doubt, we, the digitally nerd generation speak of CPICPC, CTR and CPM as often as LOL and YOLO. But it was the discovery of the acronym CBM is what really got my attention this time.

Thanks to my years in advertising (with one of the best agencies in the world) and subsequent career in telecom marketing, I am not alien to the concept of #sexsells. However the crude representation of this universal idea (even as a #hashtag) was at time uneasy (if not uncomfortable) to point out in lengthy brainstorming sessions involving respected members of the opposite gender.

Cleavage Based Marketing or CBM (not to be confused with Content Marketing although Content = Cleavage is true) however is a more acceptable and scientific way of saying what the Father of Modern Advertising has been saying for almost half a century now. #exposetoexcite

Thanks to oodles of eye-tracking studies and an unconscious evolutionary drive prompting us to activate powerful bonding circuits that help create a loving, nurturing bond (more commonly referred to as libido), we now know that the greatest marketing tool available to mankind is #thecleavage.

And in case my reader is a lady who thinks women don’t practice #objectifyinggaze; according to similar eye-tracking studies, you are just as guilty as the man standing next to you!!!

Mastering the Digital with Michael Leander: Part 1

So I am attending this Certified Digital Masterclass with the famous (or said to be so) Mr. Micheal Leander. Its a 2-day workshop organized by (the not so good) Bangladesh Brand Forum is supposed to make me a master of,

  1. Knowing how to create a killer website
  2. Understand basics of SEO marketing
  3. Engaging the audience with content marketing
  4. Planning effective campaigns for just about everything

Well first thing first, the Day 1 was seldom interesting and more often yawning. However the day did have its peaks with 8-Second Rule of First Impressions (original article to be found here) as well as mapping my morning actions in exact sequence on a piece of paper. The later was of particular interest as it unleashed the schizophrenic OCD side of me. The list on paper looked something like this,

Initial scribble

Back home in the luxury of my room. I went back to the list to make it into a proper mind map (yes, I can get really stupidly obsessive at times). Using this new tool text2mindmap was a welcome change over my usual choice of coggle, and I fancied the map to be more methodical.

So ladies and gentlemen, I present to you MY MORNING!!!!

My morning map

Shalom 🙂

Happiness is…

So my Immigration Officer at DAC randomly asked if I was a “Happy Person” or not. Without waiting for a reply, he started sharing a few words of wisdom to an absolute stranger with whom he had no business. His intent seemed unfathomable, reason for picking me pointless yet the message was worth a million. Happiness is not what you aspire to get, its what you make of the things you have!

Guess that’s what makes us one of the “Happiest Cities” in this human colony called Earth!
The 10 Happiest Cities on Earth

A Fruity Idea

Another tea time idea sees the light of day…
A tool conceptualized and developed for people of the country who pride themselves as a paradise of fruits.

Fruits of Bangladesh

It allows you to browse by seasons (Bengali calendar)

Fruit Calendar
Fruit Calendar

Or by regions (Bangladesh map)

Fruit Map
Fruit Map

And to the best of my knowledge (you bet), there has been no such initiative in Bangladesh before (except of course Banglapedia). Endorsed and funded by my dear(est) client Tang (a brand owned by Mondelez), this was a pet project of mine which the client bought into.

So type in fruitsofbangladesh and keep exploring!!! Feedbacks are welcome with open arms.

Never Say Die

As the title might suggest, I didn’t have কই মাছ for lunch or used an Energizer in my torch.

Both কই মাছ and the Keep Going motto of Energizer are things of the past. Times when everything would just last. Last for years. Be it a Volkswagen Beetle or an Omega De Ville, the classics simply worked. No wonder they keep coming back every now then.

Today is not the day for reminiscing our golden past, so let me get back on track.

Ever since I picked up my first Android, I started going grey.
Yes, smartphones are a wonderful evolution of connectivity solutions.
And yes, I won’t last a day without it.
But the burden of battery life is at times too much.

Carrying a charger every time you go out, keeping a power pack close by or simply buying battery cases are just a few of the preventive measures we take to last through the day. Yet it’s almost instinctive for us to check the battery life after every use.

Add the stress of a smart phone running out of juice to our everyday life in Dhaka, and you are left with a nightmare of the worst kind. If not for hours of power cuts, the hours spent in traffic will get to you. And as Murphy says, it gets you on the worst of days.

Tired of expecting a fix that would improve my iPhone’s battery life and frustrated after trying out all the tweaks (80-20 charging rule, No GPS, reduced Screen Brightness etc.), I was giving up till the idea of a backup phone came along.

Don’t know about others, but I guess it’s a necessity to maintain two numbers in Bangladesh. Be it the official vs. personal number issue or the pursuit of ultimate value, we are all stuck with multiple numbers. And since the rise of Dual SIM smartphones is still at a nascent stage (at least with regards of top-of-the-line makes), more and more smart phone users are stuck carrying two phones 24/7.

The idea was simple. Just the way behind every successful man there is a woman, behind every smart phone is a backup কই মাছের প্রাণ phone. ইলিশ is a delicacy, but I needed something cheesy (cheap & desi).

Thanks to my eccentric curiosity, I didn’t have to look far.

Walton has been a superbrand in Bangladesh lately. Following the footsteps of value brands like Konka and Singer, Walton has established itself as the undisputed leader of white goods in the market. I regularly followed their Facebook page. And just as I got tired of seeing my phone die on me every other day, I came across this…819244_497807170283429_1031345858_oThe 50 day standby was really difficult to digest. I work in advertising and yet I never fail to constantly remind myself don’t go for flashy advertising. But the idea of a phone that lasts for 50 days, was simply too much to overlook. Icing on the cake was its retail price of Taka 2250 / $29. It was a deal that took me back to those days of indestructible Nokia, when handsets and handguns were of same quality and lasted the same.

I was always aware of the market these phones catered to. In fact I remembered this ad of Marathon Series by Micromax which had caught my attention a few years back. Didn’t pay much attention since both my earlier phones (SonyEricsson W810 & Motorola EX115) lasted days. But I guess with the onslaught of battery-hungry smartphones, the market for long-life basic phones was hitting a high as well.

The idea turned into a plan. I was decided on buying a phone that would last, last so long that even the OCD-ed me would forget to charge it. As luck would have it, I was going to visit Basundhara City (unless you missed it by chance, the biggest mobile market in town) in a few days and the chance of making my plan a reality was knocking at the door.

Walking in with my colleagues, I looked like a man on a mission. I’ve been there many times before with the sole purpose of buying a new handset, but never was I on the lookout for something so different from what I had. The Walton store was a hard find and the news there was heart breaking. The wonder phone was still in its womb.

It wasn’t practical to go back after a week and I had to have my কই that very day. I looked around. From Maximus to Kingstar, Symphony to Samsung every brand was now in contention.

But it was a bright yellow retro that caught my eye. It was as simple as it could be. Stood out like a stork. And would cost me half of the Walton (cheaper than a Walton, beat that!!!).

I saw the price (Taka 1299 / $17) and rest is history.

Getting home, I preached of its seemingly never-ending battery life. The retro looks got enough attention as well. But the real test was when I put its marathon battery to test.882853_572741909410469_948310917_oBelieve it nor not, its been a fortnight and the battery still has two-thirds left. Flashy advertising does work after all…

2013-03-22 01.01.44
My two-week old Micromax X103

Last but not least, I got my brother hooked on to the idea of this and he is putting his Symphony B45 to test. Even as Nokia tries to take back the basic long battery-life market with its $20 Nokia 105 phone, these immortals are not gonna die out soon…

UPDATE: Finally after 20 days of use, I have put my phone to charge. God bless, Micromax. Nothing like anything.

2013-09-05 11.40.16-1
The best long-life basic phone one could have, easily!!!

Guerrilla Attack

Guerilla Artist (গেরিলা) is not quite the nickname you get yourself on facebook unless there’s very good reason for it. I mean there are a good one billion facebook users and god knows how many of them are fake. Since the usual spammers have questionable intent, this ambiguous friend request  had me scratching my head.

But the perennial intrigue of what’s that? was again in play. Thankfully I didn’t just accept the friend request blindly. I had randomly come across these wall paintings or murals (চিকা in Bangla) in and around North Gulshan having a guerrilla signature. Many considered them rich kids dirty play, to others it made no sense. But it stuck in my mind and as soon I saw those murals in this mystery profile, I was excited to finally meet their creator, the SPAMMER with a reason.

We never had a chance to interact one-to-one, not even on facebook. But I kept a close watch on this underground artist, probably the first of his kind in town. How he used facebook to promote his creations under the Guerilla Artist alias or I Heart Bangladesh cause, was really praiseworthy. Ever since the আমরা Bangladesh movement by the now-defunct Project Bangladesh (and its magnificent wristbands that I still wear), I have longed to find a local movement of such sort and failed miserably. One small initiative that caught my attention was Amar Desh Amar Potaka, but it still was well short of becoming a youth movement. Guerilla however, is showing more promise and intelligence than others…

Given the fact he (I assume its a “He”, since a “She” can’t possibly be drawing graffiti at midnight) is an anonymous artist with good photography sense, his medium of communication has been more effective and permanent in nature than others. The wall murals, the message, the facebook page and most importantly the Guerilla mark has really helped in making him a voice of of the unheard.

The Guerilla care-package

And today as I open the envelope full of goodies sent forth by him, I hope more will follow his suit and let their creative expressions go free. At least I wish I could do more to make use of my humble capabilities.

Remembering those unforgettable words by General Patton, “Lead me, follow me, or get out of my way.” all I have to say is Good luck, গেরিলা!!

Medicine Matters

Lazz Pharma Ltd., a name so synonymous to the industry that while having a debate with a friend about the possibility of a pharmacy chain in Bangladesh, he thought Lazz Pharma was one. And I believe he was right, indeed!

After 40 years of existence, Lazz – the brand does get the credit of being the founding father of the industry. In a country where just about any compounder opens up a store and starts calling it a pharmacy, or where the existence of pharmacists is only in pharmaceuticals and hi-end hospitals… Lazz was the light bearer for sure.

With time, Mimi chocolate was replaced by Cadbury’s; Peps Gel became Close-up but Lazz Pharma stayed at the top. As much of that credit goes to the wonderfully modest management of Lazz, the lack of vision from others to come forward is rather unfortunate. Don’t get me wrong, Prescription Aid (in Banani) or Tamanna Pharmacy (in Gulshan) do have a considerable share of our mind (every time you think pharmacy, what other name hits you?). But when we think of universal presence, something in the league of DBBL ATM booths (bad example); there is really nothing to recall!

Yes, Lazz Pharma has four outlets in Dhaka city (did you know that?) and they are a name you can (more or less) blindly trust. But having four branches located in Dhaka, in a country of sixty four districts and one hundred and eighty million people is like Newton’s “As children gathering pebbles on the shore.” We have a long, long way to go…

Of course organized retail done in a successful manner (i.e. Rahimafrooz Superstores, Agora) is a concept that hardly a decade old and success in a specialized industry like medicine and pharmacy is based more on trust and goodwill than location and good looks. However echoing my dad’s mantra on business in Bangladesh, “Anything that is associated with the growing population, will be a success”. His line was meant for food, transport & real estate sectors and medicine, engineering & law practitioners. Its as simple as the “basic goods” market – the need for rice grain will never fade, neither will the need for medicines.

The question is, can you make the “customer experience” in this basic industry any better?

A few years back, when ACI followed “the Agora way” to open its branded chain of superstores i.e. Shwapno, I was really looking forward to at least a 7-Eleven lookalike. The idea behind Shwapno leaned more towards a utility joint as opposed to a major retail joint. It was a winning idea, till they wanted to make it a smaller Agora/Nandan and started preaching “fresh from the farmer”. The original concept bombed and  the CEO got fired. Thankfully the financiers finally realized what was wrong by re-aligning themselves to a unique “fresh” proposition and cutting down on unprofitable locations. When a leading pharmaceutical company in the country with leading consumer health brands (Savlon, ACI Aerosol) come up with the idea of a retail chain, why is it so difficult to sketch up a “medicine corner” in the blueprint, I wonder!!!

I have always had tremendous respect for Samson H. Chowdhury‘s gift to Bangladesh, Square Group. A company that (by my judgement) has modestly but sure-footedly has moved from pharmaceuticals to consumer brands to hospitals to (now) entertainment. Their sustainable and linear growth model has contributed to stellar performance both in terms of finance and perceptions for all the Square concerns. When Square Hospitals had opened its doors, I was awaiting a revolution in the health industry of Bangladesh. While Apollo Hospitals (in India) and Labaid (In Bangladesh) had progressed from service providers to manufacturers in the health industry, Square did it the other way. After the hospitals, I had envisioned a Square Pharmacy chain, much like the Apollo Pharmacies in India (750 in number and growing). Instead Square (to-date) sufficed to having a 24 hour pharmacy at its hospital doorsteps.

May be the thought of walking into a pharmacy chain like Boots or Guardian in Dhaka is bordering daydreams, but its not impossible when a local chain like Gallerie Apex has 141 outlets around the country in less than a decade.

If people have no problem paying for the highest charging doctor, paying a visit to a store that sells authenticated life-saving drugs shouldn’t be one either.

If you think otherwise, please tell me why?

My Fair Lady

I am not into musicals, but I am told (by my good friend Mr. Wiki) My Fair Lady  has been called “the perfect musical”. Based on George Bernard Shaw’s Pygmalion, this 1956 production held the record for the longest run of any major musical theater production in history back then.

Just as always, the above has no relevance whatsoever with what’s below!

If Ford’s Model T had changed the face of automobile industry back in the early-1900’s, the face of average Bangladeshi beauty (aka. women) was transformed in the mid-1990’s when Lever Brothers (now Unilever) launched Fair & Lovely. Turmeric could have been the timeless natural remedy for skin-darkening but ask any modern Dhaka woman to draw an association between fairness and beauty products, the result is almost unanimous… Fair & Lovely. Its been such a successful product in the subcontinent that numerous me-too brands have sprung up over the years. Whether its the classic “opposites attract” dilemma (dark men vs. fairer women) or the white fixation diaspora (an inherent feeling), brands like Fair & Lovely are here to stay. Many might argue how the educated and enlightened women of today might have moved beyond the middle-class targeting FnL user group, that men are on the lookout for inner beauty or even how dark is dawn (Kalo ee jogoter aalo). My rebuttal… what about FnL Menz Active range or the up-class Garnier/Loreal skin-whitening creams in your shopping list!

Not so long back I was discussing with a few of my colleagues about the perception of beauty in this part of the world (which is predominantly “white is beautiful”). And it wasn’t surprising at all to notice once we realized how uniform beauty is by definition and (worse) by practice. You just gotta be white or prepare to lose your pride.

On top of it the plague of Indian soaps and Bollywood was transforming our idea of a beautiful woman into a girl from the silver screen. She had to wear what was trending… kameezes from short to anarkali pr pyjamas from churidaar to three-quarter (I dunno what those are called, my bad)… she had to look like that Gauri from Kutumb (SET) or Khushi from Iss Pyaar Ko Kya Naam Doon (Star Plus)… her agenda was to be THEM!!! And them unfortunately aren’t singular.

I mean look around… all you see are well-dressed, mostly petite, largely straight-haired, definitely fairer girls who by their sheer choice of submitting to uniformity over individuality upheld no comments! Be it Sonia or Salma or Khadija or even Sokhina… all are fairer (and perhaps prettier) than yesterday… yet the real (my) FAIR LADY is harder to come across today.