Friday, June 5, 2015

Prepaid Honking

It was 2005, I walked out of my hotel in Dubai and stood at the footpath to cross the road. A huge Land Cruiser screech stopped and allowed me to pass. I was so dumbstruck that it took me a while to take a step and move, while the driver not only waited patiently but also gave me a smile. What surprised me even more was the cars that were behind him, also waited and allowed me to cross like as if I was a celebrity.

It is 2015, and I walk into my living room, turn around and walk back into my bedroom and shut the door and windows because I can’t bear the noise of countless cars honking just because the road signal seven floors below - turned green. Drivers in India honk because they want to turn, cut someone, show the driver ahead that he has a horn, or control the pedestrian with his horn because he is convinced that it is a remote control to his feet, or the most important reason which is – Honk for no reason at all.

The two contrasts we live in are so wide apart that it makes me think if there is a common ground at all.


I had attended a TED talk a couple of years back and it was interesting to hear two speakers.
  • ·    Anand Damani spoke about honking and the disastrous effects it has on our health. 

  • ·    Yashraj Khaitan spoke about how they came up with a service that provided villagers prepaid Electricity.

  • ·    I simply put the 2 together and came up with an idea: Prepaid Honking!

  • ·    No, I didn’t speak at TED.

Now Imagine a world with PrePaid Honking:

A taxi driver going to a local store on the street and asking “Bhai zara Dus rupiza ka horn dena” and the shop keeper gives him a scratch card, which he keys into his mobile phone and is ready to honk. Only this time he will honk wisely.

Or a discussion among riskshaw drivers on how honking is become so expensive, and an old timer saying ‘Hamare dino mein yeh to free hoya karta tha! Kya din the. Wah!”
A news headline saying ‘Government increases the cost of honking once again! This budget is not for the common man!!!”

“Biker caught giving bribe to hawaldar for using unlicensed horn.”

Even the kind of honking will change...

From the looong beeeeeepps to just a missed call kind of horn. Just bip.

From hard rock music honking to just sms type honking. P.P.

From air horn to just just a flicker of a headlight.

And then imagine this.

Walking down a road and listening to the man selling flutes who is playing a beautiful melody himself.

The sounds of a child scream “McDonalds!” when he spots one across from his car window.

The pleasant sound of a bopu wala idli, because his horn is not come under the scanner yet.

The conditioned voice of the bhangar wala, in his typical echoing voice.

Wouldn’t that be a wonderful world!

There is a quote on the last page of your driving license which says – 
“Driving is a privilege, not your right”.

Well said Sir!

Monday, June 1, 2015

The Science of Sharing

Yesterday I shared a print campaign of toothpaste, which I thought would win the advertising awards in the next season in my wall.

This week sometime, someone I know very well, shared a video on my wall, saying he knew I’d find it funny.

Last week, a friend of mine retweeted a tweet by a celebrity he is a fan of.

Studies say videos of puppies and babies, shot with mobile phones, get more shares/retweets/repins, compared to those shot by the best film makers in the business, because most people find innocent animals more interesting, than the brand who invested millions on the filmmaker.

Then again, every day I attend a meeting where brand managers are talking about “engaging their customers” online.

But why on earth would I want a furniture shop to haunt me every time I log on?

An anti-dandruff shampoo give me gyan on hair care on my facebook wall?

A jam, to tweet me pictures of fruits and facts about the nutrition value?

Which brings me to my topic, why brands on social media need to go beyond likes and instead look at sharable content?

What is sharing in the real world (not social media)?

If I had to share a cake, the one thing I assume is 

"Someone else may have made this cake, but I bought it and now this is MY cake" 

IF I want to share it, I think,  
"Here you can have some MY cake" 

If you want me to share something about your brand it has to somewhere be belong to ME, whole of me, a thing about me, something I like, something I relate to, something I think you need, or can have. 

It’s about I. It's about me. 

So, now that I know it’s mine.  Ill share it.

Forget brands for a moment.

What is it that I readily share in life? What makes me immediately log on to social networking and motivates me to post something?

I want to share news about my achievements, about my child's milestone, or recognition given to me by the society, a big news about the company I work for, or a luxury item I purchased, or a fabulous place I visited.

And sometimes a not so pleasant experience of mine. 

Again it's about me.

So in social media you see a lot of shares (and not likes) about things to do with me, myself, my life. 

So if brands touch me, in a very personal way, I'll share.

But then again we do share ads we like, ideas we love, things we find funny, things I know that you will find funny, or inspirational, or informative. 

Do note. It's about me. 

Why do I share?

I share to be seen as clever. 
I share to be seen as informed. 
I share to be seen motivated.
I share to be seen happening.
I share to be seen upmarket. 
I share to be seen with a sense of humour.
I share because I care (about myself)

Brands term their presence on social media to stay engaged with their customers. But actually, most of the times it’s about them, and not about me.

So, Hey you brands! When you post something about yourself, I don't want to know things about you, I want to know how that makes me feel good about myself. 

Only then I'll share.

So, for all the times you shared things and people asked you why you did. Remember it was your cake, and they should be grateful you agreed to let them have a piece of it.

Unfortunately brands can’t think that way.