Idea is losing the plot

An actor playing a tree, to save paper—for selling a mobile service. What were they thinking when they made this ad?

Idea Cellular has jumped onto the public service bandwagon to build its brand. (I recall they even tried some talk offer during the 26/11 anniversary ‘celebrations’.) Nothing wrong with that. In fact, when they stuck to politics, it was a good thing. However, they have now turned the idea into a buzzing factory, and every other month they come out with a new outlandish idea. It seems these guys get together every other day and brainstorm over chilled beer on what social issue to have fun with next. The last one was a total joke call ‘Walk when you talk’. Almost like how Cyrus Broacha was invited to spoof the idea for an award show’s curtain raiser. Well, thank god, no one took that idea to heart (or belly), and those that did are all in hospital, having been run over by speeding lorries.

And even before the ICUs could be cleared, in comes the ‘save paper’ idea. Now, how is that an issue for the common man totally beats me. We don’t publish papers, books, girlie mags and toilet tissues! So how can the aam aadmi connect with this? What must he or she do about this? In fact with the current water shortage in Mumbai, demand for toilet rolls has gone through the roof! And I don’t think they’ve invented an e-bum cleaner yet. But seriously speaking, shouldn’t this be a direct marketing (paperless!) exercise targeted at the tree-chopping publishers and the like? Ah, but then how will they get to make fun, rocking commercials!

The paper TVC involves Abhishek Bachchan playing a tree (quite apt, the actor can be quite wooden sometimes), from where he orders people to read news from their mobile phones while in the loo (sure will, once ‘downloading’ becomes super-fast, hehe!), to board flights using their cells (try selling this idea to airline security!) and so on. So all this is just a juvenile exercise, which achieves nothing but a few laughs.

Ergo, the Idea campaign has turned into a joke assembly line. When what they ought to have done, is to come up with one solid public service campaign a year, which while entertaining, sends out important, relevant messages to the masses. God knows how many social evils this nation is plagued with. And all we get is this juvenile stuff.

So then, what next? Save the world from global warming? Sure, why not? Maybe what the great world leaders could not crack at Copenhagen, Idea can do in India. And perhaps Abhi will play the role of a petrol tank! What an idea na, sirji!!!
 

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COMMENTS

Manish Keswani

7 years ago

Actually it seems to be a great idea. Even if it just gets the message across about paperless billing, it would have acheived a lot.
And promoting web surfing from mobile phone is a good way to increase revenue. It is a marketing campaign disguised as a social message. I read my emails on my mobile while traveling or in office. Maybe you ought to give it a try. Its not that slow anymore.
Disclaimer (I haven't seen the ad yet)

Arshiya to increase capacity to 500 rakes over the next five-seven years

Arshiya International has been one of the late—but profitable—players in the private rail freight segment in India. Its CMD Ajay S Mittal talks to Moneylife’s Amritha Pillay on the company’s rail freight business

Amritha Pillay (ML): While other players in the rail freight industry are grieving over low utilisation levels, Arshiya International has been able to turn the business profitable. How has this happened?
Ajay S Mittal (ASM):
We decided to enter the rail freight market only when there was a demand from our customers. It took us about two years to understand and observe this industry and study its pitfalls. This was an advantage that we had as the last mover. It was the success of Container Corporation of India (CONCOR) that prompted many private players to enter the rail freight business. At that time, CONCOR used to have around 50-60 rakes but their market capital share was about Rs7,000 to Rs8,000 crore. Many players thought that if they can invest about Rs100 crore to Rs200 crore for 10-12 rakes and have a market capital of Rs1,000 crore, then it’s not bad at all. So today there are a lot of private players in the business, with Arshiya as the last entrant, probably.

ML: Being probably the last private player to enter the rail freight business, what was your focus and what were your strategies?
ASM:
Firstly, our market segment was very different. We were focusing more on domestic routes rather than international ones. We still have not done a single rake on the Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust (JNPT) to National Capital Region (NCR) route, on which other operators focused. Ours has been a purely domestic services operation for customers who were in the process of evacuation and shifting. Basically, evacuation is related more with moving your stuff by road freight services which ultimately involve dealing with multiple truck operators. Then there used to be delays and the overall evacuation would take more turnaround time compared with rail freight services.

Second, over the next three years, we ensured that all our customers use our rakes for their evacuations. For evacuations, customers prefer long-term solutions rather than one-day relief, so we focused more on that. At the same time, we increased the number of our rakes. There was no point in going to multiple customers with a single rake which would have probably solved their problem (only) for a single day.

ML: While your rakes were increasing in number, how did you ensure a return load with the company’s long-term contracts with customers?
ASM:
Suppose we are transporting something from point A to point B. While taking the booking at point A, we ensured that there would always be some load at or around point B which will be transported back towards point A. We had a three-year traffic movement plan in place and knew the movement of rakes in advance. This helped us in making sure that we had return load as well. We developed infrastructure at all points where our rakes usually ply and used it for booking and transporting loads from one place to other.
 
ML: Arshiya is planning to add another 30 rakes by 2011. Other players are also planning similar moves. Do you think there would be demand for all these rakes in the future?
ASM:
Last year, India recoded freight movement of about 2.8 trillion metric tonnes, out of which the share of rail freight was 30%. So even if the country grows at a modest 6% till 2020, the economy will also double, which may double traffic movement in the domestic market. Even at this modest pace, the railways will need to double capacity to meet the demand of rolling stock. So there would always be demand for more rakes. Looking at the potential, we are planning to increase our capacity to around 500 rakes over the next five to seven years.

ML: With the railways being a government-owned entity, how has its support been to private players in the freight business?
ASM:
The Indian government has been providing good support to the railways. From the days of Lalu Prasad Yadav as railway minister, the Indian Railways has been showing increased interest in the freight business. The government has invested heavily in developing dedicated rail freight corridors across the country. Rail freight’s 30% share in the domestic cargo movement has been achieved at a fast pace mostly during the past four years. There is also a realisation about the (dynamics of) rail freight and how it can be more efficient in terms of time and money. There is also realisation over the need to improve visibility with better tracking methods and strict measures to prevent theft.

ML: Do you think the dedicated Mumbai-New Delhi freight corridor that is being planned would help cargo movement between these two regions?
ASM:
With the dedicated freight corridor, we believe there would be improvement in cargo movement. As the corridor would allow trains to travel three times faster, it will also help us in reducing the total rakes on this route. Suppose if at present I have to deploy 30 rakes on this route, in future I may need only 10 rakes as the travel time would come down by a third.

ML: Though huge investments have been planned for rail freight, don’t you think that high rail haulage rates would be a serious issue for private players?
ASM:
High rail haulages rates are a short-term problem and not a long-term one. Any industry that is being privatised in any country will always have its own share of initial problems. I agree as a private player I do face problems with the ministry. I feel the Indian Railways needs to understand the rail freight business at a macro level. Proper evacuation options through rail need to be ensured to meet the current pace at which India’s economy is growing.

ML: Other than Arshiya International, some other private players in the rail freight industry are facing problems like under-utilisation, no return load and high haulage rates. How do you expect this industry to perform in the coming years amid these shortcomings?
ASM:
I don’t look at this business from a short-term view. I think looking at the business with a two-year or three-year perspective would be very wrong. While some players could not turn it into a profitable segment the first time, that does not mean that they are wrong in their decision to enter the segment. Every infrastructure project has a gestation period. In fact, India needs this sector desperately.
 

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COMMENTS

Asha sani

6 years ago

find job

Pramod Kumar

6 years ago

find job

Toyota looks at exporting compact cars from India

Toyota Kirloskar is ready to launch its compact car in India. Sandeep Singh, deputy MD, speaks with Moneylife’s Aaron Rodrigues about the company’s India growth plans

Aaron Rodrigues (ML): The Indian auto market has a potential for exponential growth. How much growth do you see for Toyota Kirloskar in the country?
Sandeep Singh (SS):
For 2010, we see a compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) of 15%-17% in the passenger market, mainly for small- and mid-size cars. Sales of sport utility vehicles (SUVs) have been growing over the past few months, but they have not shown similar growth in this month. Multi-purpose vehicles (MPVs) have seen marginal growth. Even during the first six months of last year (2009), MPVs didn’t grow much, but in the second half, it (sales growth) showed positive trends. Overall, I expect MPV sales to grow at a CAGR of 5%-6%.

ML: Over the past few months, Toyota has suddenly become more visible in the media. Is it due to a strategic move? What are your strategic goals for the next year?
SS:
Our aim is to increase our presence in the Indian car market and thus increase market share as well. For the next few years, we have set various targets—we need to put up a new plant, build up production capacity, develop a vendor base, expand our dealer network, and develop our manpower skill-levels and systems. So there are various things happening in the organisation. Out of these milestones, our second facility is under construction. 

Two years ago, we had planned to launch a compact car by the end of 2010, which we hope to achieve. As far as new vehicles are concerned, we have already unveiled some at the Auto Expo (recently held) in New Delhi. Currently in India, we have Land Cruiser, Prado and Fortuner in the SUV category. In the MPV segment, we have Innova. In the passenger car segment, we are importing Camry while Corolla is produced in India and soon there will be our new compact car produced in the country.

ML: Currently, Toyota is catering mainly to the premium and executive segments. With the Ethios, you will be entering a new segment. What is the projected market share you plan to achieve this year?
SS:
With the Ethios, which is a hatchback and sedan, we are entering the B segment (passenger car market) this year, and this is a growing segment. In the first year, we are looking at a volume of around 70,000 vehicles. We are looking to increase our overall market share in the passenger car segment from 3% to 10% by 2015.

ML: With the construction of your second unit underway, how many units are you planning to produce in India?
SS:
We are putting up a second plant with an investment of more than Rs3,000 crore. This plant is under construction; we are going to manufacture the compact car there. The production will start in December 2010 in Bidadi. Currently it (the facility) is being built to produce 70,000 cars per year, but it can expand to 2,00,000 cars per year.

ML: Do you feel any pressure on your profits from your Indian operations?
SS:
For earning profits, everyone, including our company, is under pressure. I don’t think profits will be huge as only volumes will generate good profits. All of us are under pressure in terms of getting the required margins. {break}

ML: Many companies like Hyundai are using India as a manufacturing and export hub. Do you also have plans to use India as an export hub?
SS:
Though it’s not easy, it certainly makes sense exporting cars—especially compact cars—from India, because you really want to be competitive in the domestic market and you also need to export vehicles to get economies of scale. We will be exporting compact cars from here. The vehicle will be the Ethios. But initially, we would like to cater to Indian markets, and then we will export the vehicle. When and where (these exports will take place) has not yet been decided. As the demand grows in India, we will expand production capacity. At present, there is no plan to export the Corolla and Innova from India.

ML: On the export front, what are the similarities and differences between India and China that Toyota has identified?
SS:
I think it (manufacturing and exporting) is directly related to the domestic market potential. If you look at the Chinese market, it is huge. So when you have such large volumes and economies of scale, you can have much better localisation and competition. When you have such a large market, you will have many manufacturers in the same segment, resulting in a high level of competition in each segment. This forces you to give better services and response levels to customers. This, of course, is from the marketing perspective.

The auto sector helps the economy of a country as it plays an important role. That is why you see that in China, the auto sector’s manufacturing contribution to GDP is quite high as compared to India.

ML: Toyota launched the eco-friendly Prius hybrid car at the Auto Expo. But the price of this third generation car (about Rs26.55 lakh to Rs27.86 lakh) is still on the higher side. Do you think the Indian consumer, who looks for value-return, will go in for the Prius at this price?
SS:
Such cars will have a limited sales number. People who are environmentally conscious and who want to make a statement about it would go for this kind of technology. Even though the ownership and running costs of the Prius are on the lower side, we think that it will have limited potential for sales.

Now, talking about the price being on the higher side, first thing is that, since the Prius is imported as a completely built unit (CBU), it attracts an 85% customs duty. But we thought if you have to cross a certain price barrier, it would be better if you can add more features. So in the Prius, we have added more features to make it a value-for-money vehicle.

Secondly, if you were to do a market survey, environment consciousness in the Indian consumer still doesn’t exist. That is a reason why we are running a program like NDTV Greenathon. Our idea is not to sell many hybrid vehicles but to deliver a good environment to our customers and to the general public. It is our responsibility as well. With the eco-friendly vehicle, we just want to create awareness about the environment among people.

ML: Do you think the prices of such eco-friendly vehicles will come down?
SS:
The price of eco-friendly vehicles may come down, but it all depends on the Union government. In other parts of the world, we see governments giving relaxation and subsidies on hybrid vehicles in terms of duties and other taxes. We don’t see this happening in India as of now. But we have already put in a request to the government. The (response from) the union government has not been negative and we hope something will come up. If you were to ask me how long would it take for prices to drop, I would say about three to five years.

ML: What are the other new vehicles you are planning to launch in India?
SS:
This year we are not planning to launch any vehicles in India, because we have launched Prado and Prius; otherwise, the whole focus is on the launch of compact cars. This year we are preparing to launch our compact car and next year we are going to focus on establishing our position in the compact car segment.
 

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