Monday, October 8, 2012

Rajdeep Sardesai: Marketing The Gandhi Topi

Any marketer would be quite familiar with the concept of ‘Test-Marketing’. You want to launch a new product, a new campaign or re-launch one, you might want to test it first. There are also ‘gurus’ who can help. For instance, if you want to re-launch Hamam soap across the nation again you might want to test-market it with some new features and packaging. Though the brand is nationally known Unilever now claims it’s a market leader in Tamil Nadu. Umm... like AIADMK or DMK. Like these two parties Hamam sales in TN also add to the national kitty of Unilever. So where would you test a re-launch of Hamam? In Mumbai? Oooh.. too big a market, too risky. In Delhi? Again, too big a market, too risky. Failing in these markets might cause a severe dent and make course corrections and return difficult. Okay, how about, say, Shimla? You could add nearby Panchkula and Chandigarh in one go? Yeah, why not? Sounds like a reasonable and fair risk, doesn’t it? That’s a good mix of urban and semi-urban markets and not a huge risk like Mumbai or Delhi. But you see, the REAL Hammam has different ideas. Don’t worry we’ll get to that in a few. 

Politcally 'Numero Uno'
First, after two consecutive posts concerning Rajdeep Sardesai (RS) I thought why not make it a hat-trick. RS is, after all, the Numero Uno political analyst according to the Social Genius. After his channel, CNN-IBN, ran the spurious headline of Nitin Gadkari being an accused in the Maharashtra irrigation scam it was atrocious to see Gadkari in an interview with RS. Anyway, let’s help ourselves to a few sound-bites from that show. Some excerpts (from Moneylife):

RS: The Robert Vadra issue began in March 2011. It is October 2012 now. Why has the BJP been quiet all along? Why didn't you raise this issue when it first came out in The Economic Times?
Reply: Why the hell are you asking me? Is it a political party’s job to conduct investigations like CBI? My party has been working on seeking more information before raising questions. We don’t accuse people like you accused me in your headlines. We aren’t a cheap sensation-seeking, Congress-mouthpiece TV channel. Are you too steeped “head to toe” in real estate scams? When my party man asked you, you said “Point taken”, what do you mean by that? Why aren’t you asking Robert Vadra instead of everyone else? What stopped you from doing your job? You didn’t even air the ET report findings. You did not investigate further. You did NOTHING! You buried it like C4V! Have you forgotten your job?

Haha! Don’t jump! That “Reply” wasn’t Gadkari’s but my own imagination. NG is quite an affable guy with media persons and doesn’t shout down people like Manish Tiwari or Kapil Sibal. Here’s the actual reply and some more:

NG: I have not received any paperwork on this matter.
RS: At no stage were you informed about Vadra's involvement?
NG: I have no paperwork. I kept hearing about it but I had no evidence. I can't accuse anyone of anything without evidence, can I?
RS: The reason I'm asking you this is because that same Arvind Kejriwal is also targeting you. He held a press conference targeting you.
NG: I am 100 per cent ready for any inquiry. I have no problem.
RS: Do you think that Arvind Kejriwal is making baseless allegations? Many are saying that he, and not the BJP, is taking on the role of the Opposition today? Are you worried that Kejriwal is targeting both the BJP and the Congress?
NG: Let Kejriwal do whatever he wants. I am not at all worried about him.

Let’s also understand one thing. What are being referred to as “allegations” by AK aren’t really allegations. Information from ROC, Balance sheets, P&L accounts can’t be termed allegations. Information from statutory sources or official documents do not constitute allegations. AK has only put public information already available in the public domain again. Simple! Of course, the Vadra issue or non-issue has put Coalgate, Irrigation scam, Kalmadi and Raja, 2G, Thorium and other scams on the back burner. Exactly what the media wanted? Wag the dog?

GOI has announced there will be no investigations into Vadra’s dealings. Robert Vadra reacted with a message: “I’m a mango man in a banana republic”. Funny that! That statement also doesn’t fit with all the Congress and media defence of his transactions. So what about AK and his new political outfit? Allegations and burning of electricity bills are fine. But sooner or later his party would need to contest elections. Where should he launch his electoral campaign? Where should he launch his new ‘Un-corrupt party’ product? Aha! This is where the ‘Guru’, Numero Uno, Rajdeep Sardesai comes in. And RS will guide AK on test-marketing. Unpaid! Nice, isn’t it? Take a look at the pic below:

See any differences in the 3 pics? You’re right! The Congress guys are in “topis” and so is AK. The BJP guys can’t seem to afford topis even. Product differentiation is essential for a successful launch. So a day before AK disclosed Vadra’s DLF transactions RS came up with another Friday blog-buster (talk about Timing): “The topi has to fit” on October 4 in Hindustan Trolls. A day later CNN-IBN’s online news partner, Firstpost, repeats the post with another headline: “Team Kejriwal, forget national power, start with Delhi polls”. Huh? This runs contrary to what I proposed for Hamam in the first para of this post. I must be a bad marketing guy. You see, RS recommends TeamAK should launch their product in Delhi and not smaller markets like Himachal Pradesh, Mizoram, Nagaland or Meghalaya. Not even Gujarat, which holds elections just after HP. Why? Not just that, he also recommends giving up the “topi”. He writes:

“While political symbolism is important in the age of the visual image, does it really need the ritualistic wearing of the Gandhi topi? If Team Arvind really wants to break with politics as usual, they need to discover life beyond the symbols and soundbites”. Hmm! You see, wearing the topi also makes AK look a lot more like the Congress guy. Doesn’t it? I wonder why Rajdeep didn’t have to say: “Don’t wear saffron turbans or shirts or scarves. You don’t want to look like a Hindu, do you?” Of course, there is no advice from RS on wearing a skull-cap or anything green either. He has more well-intentioned test-marketing advice for AK:

“The system will not change with a nudge from outside, it needs a shake-up from top to bottom. And that will not happen if power changes hands from a Congress to a BJP, or a Left to a Mamata or a Mayawati to a Mulayam. Those are internal palace coups, not the revolutions that Team Arvind is looking for”. It’s not important that Bengal or UP aren’t up for contests right now. Delhi is up for a contest very soon and is critical. And the Sheila Dikshit govt is affected by both; scams and bad governance of her own govt and the scams of the Cong-UPA govt will also affect her campaign. There is every likelihood, as RS fears, that power may change hands from Congress to BJP. And as he says that may not shake-up the system. Clever eh? So TeamAK must launch their product in Delhi and test the customer acceptance of their product.

TeamAK, if they follow Numero Uno’s advice, and that of the Hammam, and launch in Delhi, some customers have to not only reject their current brand but also reject the other brand that they were poised to buy. So customers who were poised to buy brand BJP who listen to marketing guru RS will give brand TeamAK a try. Therefore, there will be a 3-way split in the market share. Guess which brand will then have the largest market share? Good advice for Congress! But is it good advice for TeamAK to make a high-risk launch in an important, critical and large market like Delhi? Or was that the objective itself of the whole exercise? Who will the Guru’s advice really benefit? You decide! And decide if you want to wear a “Topi”!


  1. Has anybody seen Mahatma Gandhi wearing such topi? Its Nehru Topi cunningly named as Gandhi Topi

  2. Ha ha ha! Wait till Rajdeep comes up with another "Mediacrooks is the real advocate of Kejriwal, Paid to test market and market Hamaam". Rajdeep Sardesai is beneath Nanga. ROTFL!

    As I tweeted on the day of Kejriwal Presser, he (and sometimes Tendulkar too) got into the act of saving UPA - divert everyone's attention away from huge loots and scams. No one is talking about all the other "UPA-Gate" The Paid Media Brigade succeeded in the country talking about a piddly 300 Crore (which for all we know still escape legal scrutiny). It was a red herring after all.
    Thanks once again for this piece. Sardesai's goose being cooked the third time. Congratulations on the hat-trick. On second thoughts he must be feeling quite happy ;) for almost undivided attention you reserved for him

  3. TeamAK better understand the games of comgi and its chamachas like RS!

  4. TeamAK better understand the games of comgi and its chamachas like RS!

  5. Ravi, I am afraid you market RS more than his worth.

  6. it's really very good to see you blog more often these days... just love reading ur posts... keep up this great work :)

  7. Dear Ravinar

    I am sorry to say but your comments seem more like projecting AK as congress B team. Exactly what some of Social media is trying to prove as well. I am not getting one thing is that why you people are not understanding that once AK's party will come into existence it will not only cut the BJP's vote but also a deep cut in congress vote as well. Personally I know a lot of people who do not like BJP (due to different reasons) and just because they don’t have any other option and they vote for congress. And when they find the option they even ignore both of them. Just look at UP, Bihar, Maharashtra, WB where both the parties have lost their ground in last 20-30 years. (Only cast and religion cannot be a reason)

    BJP is not an alternative of congress in India. If it will not be AK then it will be third front.
    The kind of change AK is trying to make, I am sure he will definitely wiped only BJP and if things go in his favor then congress as well.

    Maneesh Ahuja

    1. @Maneesh @Socratuse

      Your comments are similar so addressing both of you. As far as I am concerned TeamAK on the ground is no political threat to any party. Few noises here and there dont make any great change.

      Secondly, some of you IAC supporters feel very offended if AK or anyone is criticised and up comes the accusation of "conspiracy nuts" or BJP supporters.

      I admire the devotion of both of you to Arvind Kejriwal but, once again, this post is not about AK. It's the what Rajdeep writes, whom he interviews and possible motives behind his utterances. Besides, there is a fun element to the readings into such analyses.

      And yes, if you seek my assessment, BJP is anyday a better party than Congress. Better in culture, better in democratic norms and spirit. Now Socratuse may harp on the issue of their being just as corrupt even when he knows it is factually incorrect. You are also venting your mindless grief and anger on this blog for stupid reasons. If AK is all that Godly and great you need to go ask Anna, Kiran Bedi and others who have backed out, not this blog. I am sure you guys were as much devotees of Anna/Bedi as much you are of AK. Enough said.

      Lastly, please dont talk to me about change that AK is trying to bring. I hope you realise I must be reading fairly enough and thinking before I write, at least as much you guys do. So as far as I see, AK is currently the "McDonalds" of change. I need to see much better than this to take him or IAC seriously. Screaming about Vadra and burning electricity bills may be revolution to you but not to me and not to everyone. While welcoming your comments I suggest dont ascribe motives or call people "conspiracy nuts". It reflects poor intelligence, assessment and judgement on your part.

      Lastly, this blog does take a stand against AK and his kind of politics whether you like or not. And will continue to so. If that keeps offending your senses and tastes that cant be helped.


    2. indeed sir,just how anybody can even think that the bjp and congress are similar is beyond my imagination.the bjp have always been a far more trustworthy and nationalistic party.i too disagree with ak's entry into politics.i hugely admire and respect ak for his crusade but i feel that the last thing this country needs is another political party to split the vote bank and add to the general chaos.i think it would be far better if ak sticks to his role as an agent of reform and as a political watchdog.he could contribute in a far more significant way to the needs of this country.after all people are very fickle and parties win and lose elections but a watchdog that bites evilmongers will keep the thieves and scoundrels at bay forever.

  8. Dear Maneesh,

    Just as IAC people want to show themselves as equi-distant from Congress & BJP you don't have an option but to continuously criticise BJP along with Congress which people realise verywell. Your comment seems to be more as a politician rather than someone from common masses. Kindly realise that Politics is not some
    one-time job but a lifelong process where you have to deal with hidden enemies & hidden agendas regularly. To say that BJP is not an alternative to Congress is not just childish but extremely naive. Anyone would appreciate Arvind Kejriwal for speaking truth more sharply than say Gadkari just as many people appreciate Raj Thakre for his extreme views than may be Uddhav Thackrey because it helps to be vocal in politics when you don't have any ground support.

    1. @Abhijeet

      In the obsession with Kejriwal, both Maneesh & Socratuse have become nearly fanatics. The question they even forget to ask is: If they were in Rajdeep's place would they have advised AK to make an electoral debut in a high risk state like Delhi? They wont answer or ponder such a question. Instead I have found Socratuse constantly ranting about conspiracy theories and the God-like qualities of AK. As for Maneesh, I'm seeing his comment for the first time. It is naive to even think that he suggests AK could wipe out any existing political party. He doesnt want a third front but has enough conviction that AK could form the 2nd largest party in this country as an option to BJP or any other party.

  9. Well... Since the AK bhakts are back again how their hero will crush BJP and CON party with single-handedly and how BJP supporters are throwing conspiracy stories, let look at what AK wants to achieve.

    1. Lokpal
    2. Direct democracy.

    Lokpal with 100,000 bureaucrats running around investigating politicians.

    Direct democracy in a country of 1.2 Billion?

    Is it all he wants to achieve, why does he want to enter politics.

    As shown by CON DIEnasty any institution can be corrupted: CEC, CVC, CBI, IB, ED all are personal properties of the DIenasty. They can be used to investigate the opponent and to help them continue the loot. They even corrupted MEDIA too with channel after channel silent on DIEnasty but running around to tarnish images of any one that oppose the DIEnasty: be it Mamta or Anna or Modi or Kiran Bedi. It does not matter.

    Why wouldn't they corrupt Lokpal? They even corrupted several judges and justices. If there is an independent judiciary, we don't need Lopal.

    If they can't corrupt, they will try COMMUNAL divisions. They already tried reservations in Lokpal institution. This was suggested by friends of scumbag die nasty: Maulyam, Maya and Laloo.

    AK may or may not be CON party B team. This happened before in AP. We all trusted Loksatta by Jayaprakash Narayan in the last election. Many educated people voted for Loksatta in urban areas getting 2 to 5 thousand votes. TDP lost some seats due to that and CON party is ruling the roost now.
    Most of the allegations against YSR amassing tens and thousands of crores has been proved with investigation of Jagan Reddy, son of YSR. When you get rewarded for that sins, people take it for granted.

    After the scams of 2G, Coal, CWG scams, if you let this UPA regime back to power by default, they consider it is OK to keep looting lakhs of crores. They destroyed every institution and now attacking CAG because that is the only institution that is opposing them.

    We need to restore the independence of these institutions where executive or one party can't corrupt them with tainted nominations.

    If there is a need for reforms in our democracy, one area I would touch is remove the nomination system in Political Parties, Judiciary, Election commission and Police.

    1. Primary System - People choose Party candidates instead of central committees.
    2. Elect important constitutional bodies such as Attorney Generals, Police chiefs, and even judges. All this can't be achieved at once. It has to be done slowly by educating the electorate, introduce training at various levels (from schools to political parties).
    3. Why should Sonia determine who gets to run on Congress ticket in my constituency? Why can't Congress members in my constituency decide who should represent them?
    Why Delhi gang of BJP decides on BJP MLA ticket in Mysore? Why can't BJP members in Mysore decide it?

    You don't need to be in politics with 2 seats to get these changes. Whatever AK is doing is symbolic. He won't get more than 2-5% votes and will become useless like Lokasatta in AP. No one know what he is doing now.

    A celebrity like AK should put up such ideas in public and fight for the cause.

    1. vivek2020,
      You have put very nicely and in details.
      Change you suggested is really desirable something like US .. enjoyed reading.. somekind of revolution is required ..waiting for the implementations

    2. Do you think there is any chance in hell that the current BJP will ever adopt a primary system like the US? If you have primaries within BJP brokers like Ajay Sancheti and Chandan Mitra and unelected RS "leaders" like Arun Jaitley will be thrown out by the rank and file. They will be wiped out if they had to contest a free and fair primary election that is only open to ordinary BJP members. Hence, it will never happen in the next 100 years. Instead of calling AK names, try to convince the "leaders" in BJP who have grown comfortable in the airconditioned environs of Lutyens Delhi to have primary elections to decide candidates for the 2014 LS elections. What AK is doing may be symbolic, but symbols have huge cache in politics. I would consider it a huge achievement if AK's party can get even 5% of the total vote in the urban centers in future elections. It will be enough to set the cat among pigeons of Indian politics.

    3. @Bobby

      I agree on the issue of RS. It is totally a nonsensical concept borrowed mindlessly from a TINY country like UK. Nominated/Unelected reps should hv no place in Parliament. There are many arguing to get rid of RajyaSabha. Its a backdoor entry for the worst scumbags in our politics. The only problem here is you name a lot of people with much lesser influence. The worst example has to be of MMS, the unelected PM. The rest are smaller fries and cant do as much damage as the PM has.

    4. @Bobby

      Where did I say BJP will adopt Primary system on their own? We will need to force the system on every party: be it CON party or BJP or SP or TDP or DMK. The change will slowly remove the powerful coterie in every party. They will fight like hell but that is what we need people like Anna or AK to convince the people.

      RS nominations, MLCs, Rajya Sabhas, Corporation chairman ships, nominations of any kind by the executive has to be eliminated.

      I have voted for Loksatta in AP hoping for a change. The President got elected as MLA and he has ZERO influence in Assembly. No one knows what he is doing. AK will be the same. NOTHING WILL COME OUT OF IT.

      The only thing BJP/NDA will do is they will be afraid to destroy institutions like CON MAFIA SONIA did since 2004. She even subverted CEC.

      I have seen example of LOKSATTA in AP and the CAT did not even touch the feathers id the PIGEONS.

  10. @Bobby

    >>Hence, it will never happen in the next 100 years. Instead of calling AK names, try to convince the "leaders" in BJP who have grown comfortable in the airconditioned environs of Lutyens Delhi to have primary elections to decide candidates for the 2014 LS elections.

    I did not call AK names and I don't believe his ideas will make any changes to our Governance. He will only end up helping the SCUMBAG MAFIA DIEnasty that will use every institution to undermine any citizen who wants to raise their voice against the MAFIA.

    I am not a BJP member and I have ZERO influence in BJP. BJP will not agree to it. If we can force a law that Election Commission will derecognize every party that does not have Primary election and will not allow that party to content in election, every party has to conduct Primary elections. They will not sit in AC but come out to work with their constituents and party members.

  11. @bobby
    also tell congress to stop licking feet of sonia ji and rahul ji.and recently also of their jija ji, before telling bjp what to do or what not to do. arun jaitley will be wiped out if he contest an election eh? now on which calculation u said this? post by some die hard congress supporter i guess.. And do you think with our pathetic electorate which is forever illiterate and divided on everything, this US concept will going to work? and @ravi, Rajya sabha is a constitutional cant just write that off to suit your taste.

    1. @thedoc

      There was no writing off RS as constitutional place. Simple point was it has become a place for backdoor entry and more corruption. Forget my tastes... many political leaders themselves are finding RS obsolete..

    2. @Ravinar: Just my take on RS,It gives states representation at Center. It put check on Government when they have to pass the bills in RS. Wrong thing may be the way candidates a selected by party and send there.

    3. @thedoc @vivek2020 @ravinar I agree that Congress is nothing but a mafia family business. You right-leaning bloggers have to grow up and stop calling everyone a Congress agent who has a divergent opinion from your own. This is childish and only conveys that you have no intelligent response to the issues. I mentioned BJP because it claimed to be a "party with a difference" So if a party like BJP that presumably abhors dynastic politics refuses to have primaries, what does that tell you? A primary system will hurt the interests of people who are in leadership positions within the BJP right now. Many of them fear that they will not survive in a primary system. Given that this is the case, whats the point of having civil society campaigns from outside to plead for change? It does not matter whether AK's political project fails or not, he is making valuable noise...something that the BJP is unable to do because of the skeletons in its own cupboard.

    4. First of all, nobody called you a Congress agent. Second, dont take a "sermonising" tone and use terms like "grow up". Ironically, that makes you as "childish" as you claim others to be. Its possible you may have a monopoly on "intelligence" (since others dont have intelligent responses as you claim) but before you sermonise learn to understand you need to respect others before you seek it. You can make valid points in defence of AK without having to talk nonsense about others or deriding them in silly terms. If you cannot learn that, please do not comment here any further.

    5. @Bobby

      I have not called you CON agent. Neither did Ravinar. I never supported BJP in any of my comments but you start associating us with BJP like a liar who thinks repeating a LIE 100 times makes it truth. I have clearly defined my ideas for Governance. All I said is I got burnt by supporting people like AK in AP (Loksatta). That made NO difference to people in AP. We can clearly see where AK will end up. He will get 1 or 2 seats and helps CON party to win.

  12. We have to first market this site, so it reaches as many mango people as possible...

    “Now he is what is Paid Media. Paid to abuse media”
    nope sardesai.. Mr.Ravi isnt abusing......

    i am... bhe***od rajdeep sardesai

    and i am no media, i am among mango people, and as Mr.Kejriwal said, nemesis to all the CON party guys and the associates.

    vadra said, he is a mango man in a banana republic... if he is a mango , im pretty sure, is a rotten one!

  13. Ravi, I'm afraid that the forum is cleverly being hijacked. Please do not allow to digress from the original objective of exposing the bias and outright lies of the media. Resist the obligation to respond to every discordant reply. In an all out war against media injustice, a few bruises here and there should not distract you. A great forum with sensible and earnest commenters barring a few spoil sports. Keep the good work up!

    1. @Srivathsan

      Yes, I do know that I dont have to respond. But there are a few people who have been attempting to use this blog to foist their agenda, going far beyond mere dissent or discord. Their frequent outbursts are bordering on absurd arguments like the sily "murder analogy" That will indeed warrant a response/ intervention. I hope they realise they can stay within their rights by choice.

  14. @Socratuse

    This is my blog.. and you have no business to tell me when to stop or what to write. Get that thing into your head. And since you seek a closure, do not post any further comments on this particular post. Should you try to extend your pointless discussion, I will be glad to send it to spam.

  15. great articles. i constantly follow your blog from the time when there were not many comments or say follower. though i never commented and this is my first comment i really like the way you analyse English media gaffe ..good job

  16. I've worked with some Marketing Manager who were unable to deviate beyond their test plan or spent their entire work day updating test plans that no one ever used

  17. enerally look after a particular brand in a company, they are in charge of taking the brand forward in terms of the overall strategy this can mean PR/Above the line etc but also reporting to the MM, whereas the marketing
    Manager looks after the marketing of brand(s) and in a big company that can mean multiple brands.


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