Sunday, August 12, 2012

Lets get back to this

Testing through the slick Blogger app for the iPhone.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Reminiscing the last day of college

I found this blog-entry on my previous blog - thought its apt to share again, as my MBA draws to a close. :)


It was the morning of May 18th, 2007, I frantically gotup at 9:30am to literally RUN off to college, as we had our Research Project Presentations - which you have to give at the end of your BBA, and is pretty much worth 2 courses! Got to college by 10:15, in a rather unusual setting in the Auditorium (where we were presenting for the first time), and witnessed nervous, tensed, hyper (some losers were for some reason!) and some happy buncha' students.. who were about to unofficially graduate!

Presentations from 10:30am - 5pm, and my group's turn was at 4pm! So after catching up with my sleep, joking around, millions of sms-es, going for prayers in the middle (Friday), taking pics!, having lays, revising notes, we were on the stage for 1 final time! (why is this turning into a lame story of some famous band's last gig? :p)

So that sums it up pretty much. Presentation finished, went ok, better than the rest, and we were treated by our college to tea and snacks!

And so after giving 100+ presentations, clearing 48 courses, taking 144 hourlies and 48 finals, going to a huge number of seminars/conferences... I still have the same old car!.. Ok no, I finally graduate!

It was indeed a pleasure studying here, and a greater pleasure to have met the life-long friends I made over here.. the early morning halwa-puri's, the frantic runs to the lab for print-outs, the lays with tea sessions, the samosa with tea sessions, the random arguments in the cafe over why we chose a certain topic for a report, the mimicking sessions! (oh damn!), the walks from 90 to 100, the birthday celebrations in the study, the flamingo trips, the meetings! (SO many!), the EBM's!, the random AIESEC memories, the fights, the daewooooo! (oh how can I forget you! you SUCKER!!:p), the pick/drops, the same damn feeling after giving every exam, and the billion other things.. this all would definitely be missed!

So am I going to end this off on a really emotional note in a background of empty corridors?!

No I'm not! Thank God its over! :D


Saturday, December 17, 2011

Scent of a memory

Winters of 2010. Early days at JS. College-going carefree days. Wedding. Work summers. Chilling in Oman.

Above thoughts rush to my head whenever I take a quick sniff of my favourite scents, preserved in my cupboard in their almost-empty bottles. Its a dejavu. It takes you back to a different era. A different time-zone. A memory in time.

Its amazing how each scent symbolizes a memory, a memory so strong, that a mere sniff can take you back to that time, take you back to feel those feelings, to experience those vivid details, and most importantly, to reflect.

These are not in the form of pictures, documents, video tapes, chits, slips, gifts, wrappers, or anything else. The entire memory is encapsulated in a mere sniff. A pure, intangible, and priceless scent. Beautiful in nature, striking in reality.

What one does not realize is how when you're looking at tangible memories related to a past event, you want to feel what you see. (Wait.. What?) Let me go again. You want to feel, what exactly you see or want to believe in. You don't want to modify it. You see a past movie ticket, and you say 'hey! that was a fun day'. Riiiight. What about the feeling you felt while actually dressing up for your big date? What about the adrenaline you felt while making your way down the stairs to rush to your car? What about the really nice feeling you had, once you got back home, when you just wanted to smile and think about that special person?

A scent gives you exactly that. It makes you feel how you actually felt that day.

The scent of a memory is priceless.

Have fun preserving your precious moments in a mere sniff. :)

Monday, November 28, 2011

Urdu bhool gaye kiya?

Interesting piece of conversation that came up during a Print Media lecture last week - while arguing about how English newspapers are better than Urdu, and why we feel slightly 'comfortable' while reading English newspapers, I realized, how we, yes, you, and all of us, have forgotten everything about our mother-tongue. How we, as citizens of this very country, have forgotten our very own language.

It really hit me when someone asked if we could take our exam in Urdu - it was as shocking to the instructor, as to the rest of us. It was a sudden wave of guilt, that made us realize how we have sidelined our basic language, to a point where a mere thought of using it for academic purposes, or professionally, frightens us!

I know its ironic how this blogpost is also in English, but it is because I chose it to be this way - it is how we have been cultured over the years, during our fancy education, and shmancy upbringing.

A friend of mine was filling out some forms the other day - he literally struggled while filling them, because they were to be filled up in Urdu. When is the last time you wrote something in Urdu? I, for one, cannot recall.

We shower utmost amounts of admiration and respect for those who can speak oh-so-fluently in English, but immediately judge someone as soon as they start to talk in Urdu at a 'high-end' gathering, and immediately judge how he/she probably doesn't even know how to construct a basic sentence in English. Little do we know, that that 'assumed' paindu is probably more knowledgeable than you will ever be!

I must confess though, that I have the utmost amount of respect for those that are flawlessly fluent in both Urdu, and English. In fact, when properly conversed in, with the right amounts of heavy words, mixed with that beautiful raw accent, Urdu sounds more pleasing than any other language!

Next time you're out with some friends, or having a conversation with someone important, try shifting it completely to Urdu - lets see what you manage, and whether or not your conscience screams, 'urdu bhool gaye kiya?'

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Dreams within.

He woke up in the middle of his ultimate dream.

Perplexed, he stormed his way out of the house, half-dressed, breakfast consumed whilst glancing at the houses nearby. There was something different about today. He could feel it.

Driving at a high-speed, he was shocked to listen to his favorite song, as soon as he turned on the radio. He expressed his luck by grinning at the school-girl staring at him from the school-bus next to his car. The light turned to green. And he crossed the school-girl and her bus. He noticed in his rear-view mirror, that she was still staring. As if she had either seen a ghost, or a celebrity. There was sympathy in her eyes.

Today was the launch of his first-ever book, 'Dreams within'. It was picked up by a renowned publisher 2 years back, and had received outstanding media hype. He had been thinking about this day ever since he was in college. His launch was set in one of the most popular art galleries of the city. The launch was scheduled to start at 10:30am. It was already 10:34, with no signs of the author.

His secretary kept calling him since 9:30 in the morning. He realized he was late, and was not responding to any calls. Until he saw his mother's name on the caller ID. He had not spoken to her in 10 years. Ever since they had a major fallout. He hated her, and did not want to take her call. 'I wish you all the best', said his mother, in a brief 10-second one-way call. He took the call, for some odd reason. All of a sudden, he felt animated and conscious. He felt a huge relief, almost as if it had freed him from prison.

He reached the gallery at 10:58am. His secretary was at the gate to receive him and brief him about the launch and the agenda. He had his speech well-prepared. He had worked on it for almost 2 months, and rehearsed it every single day. It was time.


With a shaky voice, she continued addressing the audience gathered at the 5th memorial of Chris Hayden. "This excerpt was from Chris's Biography written by his wife. Chris passed away in his sleep the morning before his book launch, exactly 5 years ago. This Biography is in his memory."

"I still remember how Chris used to think about his ultimate dream, all the time. As if he had planned every second of it."

"I loved him very, very much. After all, he was my only son."

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

CokeStudio - a 360-degree marketing venture

Coke and Pepsi have had a battle for being the most favorite beverage brand since the 70’s, and both have always strived to jump onto any opportunity which may increase their own market-share.

From youth excitement, to sporting celebrities; Coke and Pepsi continue to be rivals, on and off the marketing domain. However, a recent stunt by Coke, who has usually targeted SEC-A and SEC-B, has left the folks at Pepsi, in a state of awe and despair, possibly.

I am indeed referring to the genius fusion of classical eastern and contemporary western music, packed in captivating episodes for TV, perfect media spots, social media engagement, and attractive merchandise; the genius that is, Coke Studio!

Coke has always been a brand associated with youth, excitement, happiness and liveliness. To come up with such a holistic stunt like Coke Studio; must have given the marketers at Coke a few sleepless nights. The marketing gimmick that started about 3 years ago, has become garnered itself a very strong following in its short life. Coke Studio is a first of its kind show in Pakistan in terms of live fusion musical jam sessions, and the credit of course goes to the genius of the one and only Rohail Hayat – who got the brand involved in this venture and then made it work to a truly inspiring show. Inspiring because of the creative genius that just oozes from the show. Rohail Hayat and Coke have successfully made Coke Studio not just a hit, but a massive hit in not just Pakistan, but all over the world. A country which seriously lacks for most of the time in the advertising and promotional areas in terms of creativity and imagination, something like Coke Studio stands out and creates instant fan following. And what does coke get? A nice and comfortable spot in the consumers’ minds!

For music lovers it is an absolute treat to watch the musical masterminds of Pakistan getting together to create great compositions which truly mesmerize you. The likes of Strings, Fuzon, Noori, Ali Zafar, Mekaal Hassan band and of course the constant presence of Gumby on the drum sets and then what follows is musical genius. In the recent times where concerts and gigs have started reducing in number considerably because of the ever increasing security concerns, Coke Studio offers music lovers a look at raw genius. The fusion of sounds, instruments and style, is absolutely fantastic. 

As a guitar-playing colleague, Sam, frankly put it, “I for one want to see this forum and channel of musical mastery continue season after season with something new on the table every year. The key is to continue fusing and mixing and creating something new. I want to see more beautiful vocal renditions like Meesha in Alif Allah and Ali Noor in Aik Alif!”

Through Coke Studio, Coke is specifically targeting teenagers and youngsters; or basically consumers who are into popular fusion music, by associating itself with music. Another friend associated with mainstream print media, YK, beautifully summarized it, "Coke has successfully made its brand association in the minds of the consumers as a "cola" to be enjoyed during "good times" with friends. This is also in sync with Coke's brand image globally as a brand that has been involved in promoting music, sports as well ‘slice-of-life’ activities like eating out and washing it down with a coke!"

In Pakistan, Coke Studio is aired on almost all major channels, in fact according to a recent Wall Street Journal story, Coke Studio is being carried by 27 channels, including regional Sindhi and Pushto-language channels, where entertainment tends to be more orthodox. This gives it a universal audience by raking in popular folk artists in recent years like Arif Lohar and Sanam Marvi to lesser known Sufi groups. Coke has made a pretty decent attempt to indluge in building positive PR for Pakistan by showcasing the "enlightened moderate" side of Pakistan and Islam, which is one of the core beliefs of sufism, besides promoting that school of thought through the western music scene in Pakistan. The website is an absolute first in Pakistan as well, offering full length episodes and songs legally for downloading by the viewers, besides latest pictures and wallpapers as the show progressed. The website provides visuals that are reminiscent of the atmosphere in the studio session, the homepage is a good balance of easy to load visuals, and there is a blog- like feel to it as well.

Coke Studio ties in social media to enhance its strategy towards a 360-degree marketing venture. By the strategic use of ‘Consumer Generated Content’, the use of popular social media such as Facebook, Twitter and Youtube, proves to provide a more interactive experience to viewers and fans alike, wherein they can post their feedback through comments, "likes" and tweets, giving coke and the producers instant and honest feedback and a pulse of the viewers from all over the world. The show’s Facebook page has about 340,000+ fans, and the mega-hit song “Alif Allah Chambey Di Booty” by Arif Lohar and Meesha Shafi, has recorded more than 531,537 views on YouTube since June’10. It is popular in both India and Pakistan where the netizens can’t seem to get enough of it.

An example on how successful Coke was in leveraging the power of the internet through an interactive site and social media, is how popular the show has become in India and amongst desis globally through word-of-mouth. Since music is a universal language, non-desi friends of desis abroad have also picked up on the show!

“The production value of the show, which is at par with any international live jam show, along with the constant subliminal red & black coke signage intergrated into the set design, makes an impact at a subconscious level, atleast ‘compelling’ a viewer like me to have a coke while watching the show!”, stated YK, having a keen and enthusiastic interest in Pakistani music.

The ATL and BTL (billboards in particular) compliment each other beautifully, literally heightening people's interest in the show weeks and at the time of season 3, even a year before the next season! The promotion of artists a week before the episodes, through ATL and BTL activities, heightens one's curiosity on what to expect the next week. Following the airing of an episode, one can easily witness hundreds of updates and ‘tweets’ on Facebook and Twitter regarding feedback on songs, artists, as well as musical instruments being used! This has become not just about music, but it is making people talk about Coke on forums where they are strictly personal and comfortable!

Recent research even shows that sales of Coke have picked up in recent years, amongst its target market in Pakistan, and Coke Studio has had a major role in it since it rejuvenated the brand's presence in the Pakistani market, creating a profound market awareness. The songs are repeatedly being played all over, in cafes, in cars and at parties, which continue to create a ripple-like effect in terms of brand recall for Coke because of its distinct content quality. Coke has gained significant market share at Pepsi's expense, according to a report in the Wall Street Journal. While Coke now claims 35% of all cola sales in Pakistan, Pepsi's market share is now down to 65% from a high of 80% in 1990s which was achieved mainly through sponsorship of cricket in Pakistan.

Coke Studio is multi-dimensional, it is unique and remarkable, it has extremely good production, and is very Pakistani; but the best part is, it does NOT feel like a desperate advertisement! The music is genuinely engaging, which has transformed Coke Studio in a league of its own.

Till the airing of the next season of Coke Studio, lets chill by drinking down a ‘coke-studio branded’ can of coca-cola, shall we?

* This was also published in an academic magazine focusing on Media in November'10.
* Sources/ references: Cokestudio website, some other forums.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Dil Mange Peacock.

Recalled during one of my Advertising classes way back.

An interesting topic was raised,  which is the most successful Ad ever made in Pakistan? There were a lot of guesses from Telenor, to Mobilink, Pepsi, Safeguard, and what not. Little did we know, that the most successful ad. till now, is 'Gaye Soap!'

Yes, quite unbelievable. Slightly amusing as well. Sources say that the animated cows dancing around on the screen, motivated people from rural areas to go for this animated product.

That is not it. Another amusing fact about our lovely population that I got to know was about Pepsi and their Ad campaign. In India, Pepsi launched their "Dil Mange More" campaign and it was an instant hit. They thought of launching the same campaign in Pakistan, and when they did so, it did not create that same impact. Shocked, Pepsi wanted to know the reason ofcourse. They were quite surprised when they got to know that majority of our population had thought of "Dil Mange More" as Dil Mange Peacock!

Pepsi changed their campaign to "Dil Mange Aur!" for very obvious reasons.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Blah blah blog

Hello world.

Starting to blog again, after a good 4 years.

Lets see how it goes.