Sunday, March 23, 2008

They raised the bar

Goan for the Jocular: They raised the bar
by Cecil Pinto

Sucheta Potnis, a Goa based columnist of a national newspaper, once joked about being a Brand Ambassador for some major Multi National Company. Her dream did not materialise of course. I met the charming Sucheta to find out why her idea did not pan out. She explained a lot of major marketing and advertising terms to me but in the end I was not convinced. To prove my point I have decided to make an attempt at getting myself appointed as Brand Ambassador for some major company. I will keep you readers posted on the results.

The trick, I think, is proper positioning.

You see all brand advertising is about aspirations. Many people want to be an Amitabh or a Sachin or a Madhuri. They will never get there, so they pander to their own aspirations by buying the products that their idols use. The small time businessman buys some Reid & Taylor suiting and feels he is closer to being debonair Amitabh. And the teenage boy, playing tennis ball cricket in the gulley, sips a Coke and dreams of being a batting wizard like Sachin. And the young bride uses a Lux soap in the dingy
bathroom of her single bedroom apartment and fantasizes she is Madhuri on the wide screen running around trees, with snowcapped Swiss hills visible in the background. She lathers her body while the relentless throbbing of the shower caresses her body. As the soap slides on her wet skin she closes her eyes and moans.... Oops! Got carried away there. Where was I? Aspirations.

So I think to myself. Who would want to be me? For that I have to first define what I am. I decide to make a list of my 'admirable' features and give up after not much comes to mind. Then I attempt a list of my material possessions that someone would envy. Not much there either. I mean a Yamaha motorbike, a Nokia 3310 and a 21" Aiwa TV is not really great aspirational material. I give up this exercise.

What about finding out which 'class' slot I fall into? Middle middle class, upper middle class... bottom of the barrel? I go to the local library and leaf through a few Finance and Business type magazines. They all seem to be very optimistic and are trying to convince me that these are times of great opportunity. Car loans, housing loans, educational loans are at an all time low they say. For just rupees nineteen thousand a month I can own a double bedroom flat in Vasai (Where's Vasai? Why would I want to live in Vasai?).
In fact a middle class person earning just six lakhs a year can buy a car, a computer and a small apartment relatively easily. Six lakhs a year!! They call this middle class? Holy crap! I just realised I'm not middle class. I leave the library depressed that I didn't even remotely make lower middle class (three lakhs a year!).

I'm resigned now to the fact that I'm middle lower class, as opposed to lower lower class (the guys who hover around the poverty line). Despite my concern for the absolutely poor it's a comforting feeling knowing that there's at least somebody below me in the class structure. Now obviously this lower lower class is what I should examine. These are the guys who want to make it up to the middle lower class. What are their dreams? What
do they want? What are their ideals and idols? I ask around. It's not very easy here in Goa to find many of the lower lower class. I do find a few in some taverns, pav-bhaji restaurants, rural bus stops and migrant labour camps. I ask them what they aspire for. A two wheeler? A dwelling place they own? Decent clothes? Bus fare?

They all agree. These things I mention are very important. But their priorities are elsewhere. They all want to be Amitabh, Sachin and Madhuri.
There's something wrong here.

The humour column above appeared in Goa Plus, the Friday Magazine section of 'The Times of India' on 16/1/2004.

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