Greenlam Laminates: Deathly confusion!

Greenply commercials tend to be surprising and engaging. But this time, in their endeavour to create whacky stuff, the advertiser has made a major blooper in the commercial, which leaves the viewer very confused

I usually like commercials that come from the house of Greenply. They tend to be surprising, mad, engaging, but at the same time, very, very rooted in the product. I think their 'Judge' commercial for plywood, where a man is being tried for a crime for years and years was simply brilliant. Which is why I look forward to their ads.

However, the new commercial for their laminates brand, Greenlam, left me very disappointed. Because this time, in their endeavour to create whacky stuff, the advertiser has made a major blooper in the commercial, which then leaves you very confused as a viewer.

Here's the convoluted tale: An old gent is fed up with life. Or so it seems, as he wants to die. And what motivates him to kick the bucket is a splendid coffin (made with Greenlam) he's spotted at a local caretaker's shop. And he decides that particular coffin will be his final resting place.

But there's a minor complication: The man's not born a Christian. So he first needs to convert his religion. (Hope the Bajrang Dal guys aren't watching this one). Of course, he does so, and promptly dies. And looks happy and at peace inside the coffin. The voice-over matter-of-factly explains: 'Dikhe itna achha, dil toh karega hi'.

Two serious issues. The first is to do with the execution. Instead of keeping the narrative simple, the advertiser has packed in many elements. As if they were producing a full length feature film. So there's the man's obsession with the coffin and the unraveling of the mystery behind it. There's a wife whose reactions have to be captured. And the gent is made to ask for forgiveness from his natural god (where was the need for this sequence at all?). Plus there's a scene of the man being baptized in a church!

Completely ridiculous, all this overloading of a commercial that ought to have been kept simple. The result: You are left scratching your head trying to figure out what happened. I had to watch this ad many times to get a hang of things. But the viewer only gives you one chance.
Secondly, I am not sure this nation is ready to accept death as a situation in ads. Most Indians are a superstitious lot, and would shy away from brands that cue misery. And Greenlam is a laminate one uses for home décor, a celebratory activity! I think the marketer is pushing his/her luck out here. So even if I am happy to concede, despite my reservations, that we should credit them for pushing the envelope, the very busy story kills the idea anyway.




5 years ago

Not sure of whatever you have mentioned, I love this ad. Interesting bundle in all.


5 years ago

They have created a classic ad - a cult classic that will be cited the world over and for a long time, as an example of an ad that makes ALL the mistakes:
1. Associates its product with the most lastingly negative themes - death, old age, without any redeeming wit.
2. Promotes use of coffins in a country where most people are cremated.
3. Uses Gothic visuals to reinforce the negative, bleak, sepulchral tone.
4. Leaves the viewer thoroughly confused.
5. Does a national prime time campaign, without testing it.
The only explanation I have is that the company wasn't paying the agency's bills on time, or mistreating the Marketing head, who has decided to punish the company in a way that's going to be hard to pin down.

Indian stocks to see cautious opening: Tuesday Market Preview

Mixed domestic economic data announced on Monday showed signs of a slowdown in the local economy

Indian stocks are likely to open on a cautious note on negative global cues. The US market closed lower on Monday ahead of the crucial vote by the Congress on the debt deal and weak manufacturing data. Tracking the world’s largest economy, markets in Asia opened lower on Tuesday. The SGX Nifty was down 32 points at 5,496.50 compared to its previous close of 5,528.50.

The markets gained on Monday, as stocks worldwide got a boost following the US debt breakthrough. However, this positive move after four consecutive days of losses that eroded nearly 200 points on the Nifty, cannot be seen as the end of the fall. We could expect an upmove only if the Nifty closes above 5,590 in a day or two. Yesterday’s gains were on lower volumes; a total 53.01 crore shares were traded on the National Stock Exchange, which is below the 10-day moving average of 61.09 crore shares.

Earlier, the domestic market opened 46 points up at 5,528 and the Sensex resumed trade 155 points higher at 18,352. Buying activity pushed the benchmarks to the day's highs in early trade, as the Nifty touched 5,552 and the Sensex went up to 18,440. However, higher levels soon lured investors to take profits off the table, pushing the indices lower as trade progressed. The market fell to its intra-day low in noon trade as the Nifty slipped to 5,486 and the Sensex fell to 18,219.

The market bounced back from the day's lows, as a positive opening in the major European indices lifted sentiments again. The market closed in the green with the Nifty gaining 35 points at 5,517 and the Sensex finishing at 18,314, up 117 points from its previous close.

In US news, the House of Representatives on Monday approved a deal to raise the US borrowing limit in a decisive step toward averting a debt default by the world’s largest economy. The Democratic-controlled Senate will vote on the bill at noon on Tuesday and is widely expected to pass it. The bill would then be sent to the desk of president Barack Obama, who has said he is anxious to sign the bill.

Earlier, markets in the US ended lower on Monday ahead of the crucial vote on the debt deal and on lower-than-expected manufacturing data for July. The Institute for Supply Management’s factory index plunged to 50.9, the lowest since July 2009, from 55.3 in the previous month. The July reading was lower what analysts had expected. The ISM report followed weak manufacturing reports from much of Asia and Europe.

Healthcare stocks plunged on worries that the debt-ceiling deal would lead to cuts in healthcare spending for federal programs such as Medicare.

The Dow fell 10.75 points (0.09%) to 12,132.49. The S&P 500 shed 5.34 points (0.41%) to 1,286.94 and the Nasdaq declined 11.77 points (0.43%) to 2,744.61.

The Asian pack was mostly lower in early trade on Tuesday on signs of a slowdown in the manufacturing sector in July—both in the US and across the region. Meanwhile, new vehicle sales in Japan fell by a record in July, following production disruptions from the 11th March earthquake, while South Korean rivals extended their winning streak to report strong global sales.

The Shanghai Composite tanked 1.68%, the Hang Seng declined 0.59%, the Jakarta Composite fell 0.30%, the KLSE Composite shed 0.06%, the Nikkei 225 shrank 1.32%, the Straits Times tumbled 0.90%, the Seoul Composite slipped 1.61% and the Taiwan Weighted was 1.44% lower in early trade.

Back home, the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority (IRDA) on Monday proposed doing away with the assured 4.5% return norm for pension schemes and introduced mandatory disclosure of assured benefits upfront to the customers. The insurance watchdog proposed to modify the guidelines as the earlier norm of assured 4.5% return did not find favour with life insurance companies.

Since the implementation of the guidelines on pension products from 1 September 2010, only five out of 23 life insurance companies came out with pension or ULIP product.


‘Overconfidence’ effect: There is a tendency among investors to ignore information and pick hot stocks blindly

Investors often overestimate the probability of a favourable outcome coming to pass in a given situation. We also put great faith in mathematical models despite major flaws and create models based on past data, which is validated only against that same past data. This can have some strange results

Investors certainly have a lot of enemies these days. Governments are certainly near the top of the list. Capricious governments are happy to indulge in dubious macroeconomic experiments while failing in their basic regulatory function to prevent fraud and establish a stable investment climate. The failure of government has taken its toll on the one important area where government can make a difference, accurate, complete and timely information. But the investors' real enemy is still themselves.

Our real problem as investors is that not only do we not get good information, we have a tendency to ignore the information we get. For example, many commentators assume that the United States (US) will raise its debt ceiling and that the Eurozone will solve the Greek issue without a default, despite a great deal of accurate information to contrary. This is called the positive outcome bias, which is the tendency of people to overestimate the probability of a favorable outcome coming to pass in a given situation. We put great faith in mathematical models despite a major flaw. We create models based on past data which are validated only against that same past data. This is called the forward bias. These and others can have some very strange results for investors, none so much as the idea of a hot stock. In the US we have a very obvious example, Netflix.

Netflix was a company with a very good idea. Rather than go to a store to rent DVD movies, you could get them by mail. Not only was the delivery a good idea, unlike Blockbuster, the brick and mortar franchise, Netflix did not charge irksome late fees, which often cost more than the rental fee itself. When Netflix started in 1999, Blockbuster had few competitors and so dismissed the threat from Netflix. Blockbuster went bankrupt in 2010.

Meanwhile, Netflix went from strength to strength. It achieved 10 million subscribers in 2009. The stock also did quite well. For much of its history the stock traded barely above 20, but with the demise of what was considered its only competitor, it started doing much better. At the beginning of 2007 it was trading at 22. By March 2009, when all the other stocks had crashed, it had increased 75% to 35. In another year, in 2010, it had doubled to 70, and increase of 40% in five weeks and it was trading at 27 times earnings.

By that time, another cognitive bias had come into play: an availability cascade, a self-reinforcing process in which a collective belief gains more and more plausibility through its increasing repetition in public discourse. The Netflix 'story' had taken hold, but it took off with internet streaming. The service was actually available as early as 2008, but really got going in the fall of 2010 with the 'Watch Instantly', service, initially free with a regular subscription. The stock doubled again to 120.

The main part of the collective belief was that Netflix did not have any competition. This is far from true. Its original competition Blockbuster went bankrupt, but not out of business. There are other companies like Amazon and Hulu that stream movies and television shows. Hulu is small, but it is owned by NBC Universal, Walt Disney and News Corp. Other competitors include such heavyweights as Google and Apple. Besides the entertainment and tech giants, Netflix competes against the large cable companies that all allow movie rentals.

Netflix managed to increase its subscribers to 25 million, 70% of this last year, thanks in part to the strength of its brand. Then, Netflix decided to change its fees. The internet streaming which had been free, would be subject to an additional charge. The new charges increased the monthly fees by 60%. The reaction was immediate. Over 12,000 customers posted complaints on Facebook and a survey suggested that 26% of Netflix customers would cancel. But it did not slow the stock. The momentum of the bandwagon effect was firmly in control.

The stock actually reached new highs, based on Netflix's plans to expand into Latin America. Investors thought only about the millions of new customers. Since they were subject to confirmation bias, investors never considered that in emerging markets the bandwidth necessary for streaming movies is not widely available. The stock hit a new high of 300.

But all good things must pass. Netflix, now trading at 80 times earnings, recently fell 16% on disappointing revenues. Did the analysts admit a mistake? No, Anchoring bias. Analysts said the bad news was temporary, only temporary. Netflix would recoup its $300 price target and would hit $1,000 in five to seven years. A perfect example of an 'overconfidence effect', which is an excessive confidence in one's own answers to questions.

In the words of an American cartoonist, Walt Kelly, "We have met the enemy and he is us."

(The writer is president of Emerging Market Strategies and can be contacted at [email protected]  or [email protected].)


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