What is now needed is a totally new idea, even if it’s still embedded in the same shell
One good thing Sprite has done for some years now is to mock at all the nonsense that cold drink ads promise. Everyone knows a cold drink is nothing more than sweetened, flavoured, aerated water, so why create fables around each brand?
Its ‘Seedhi Baat No Bakwaas’ campaign was born out of that concept. And it has served the brand quite well. Not just because younger consumers connect with that thought, but the execution of the idea has been almost always superb. The ads invariably feature two pals. One slim and good-looking, and the other obese and over-smart. Mr Obese Boy tries to impress people, especially women, with silly antics and fails miserably. But Mr Slim Boy only offers thirsty and parched folks some Sprite, and has the last laugh (and the babe). Simple idea and its power lies in that simplicity of thought.
However, this route has been on air for a long time now, and a degree of predictability has set in. In order to inject some freshness into the campaign, for their new TVC, Coca Cola, the makers of Sprite, have taken the lads out of the urban setting, and have landed them into a deep forest where they run into some cannibalisque African tribals. Mr Obese Boy tries to pally up with the angsty chieftain, by attempting to ape the mannerisms of the locals. And he only manages to piss him off. Mr Slim Boy does what he does best: he offers Sprite to the chieftain, who soon cools down, and in turn offers a couple of tribal chicks to the boy as prize, as Mr Obese Boy gets readied to be cooked.
Funny? Well, okay, if you insist. Refreshing? Naaah! I think Sprite is overdoing what began as a good brand property. The Obese Boy-Slim Boy gag has run out of steam. Taking them out of the concrete jungles and flying them into real ones makes little difference. As the joke is the same, the plot is the same, the boys are the same, I think the ad agency in this case has gone lazy, and is perhaps not accepting that all good things come with an expiry date. And what is now needed is a totally new idea, even if it’s still embedded in the ‘Seedhi Baat No Bakwaas’ shell. And they need to do it fast before the brand tires out in the consumers’ minds.
Hopefully, at their next meeting, if the ad agency guys again land up with another boy gag, the client will say to them: “Seedhi Baat No Bakwaas. Clear hai?”
5th May, 2010: Moneylife Foundation on Wednesday organised an interactive discussion on real estate titled ‘Real Estate: Trends, Issues & Consequences’ jointly conducted by industry experts Pranay Vakil, Chairman, Knight Frank (India) Pvt Ltd and Pankaj Kapoor, Managing Director, Liases Foras.
Speaking on the occasion, Pranay Vakil said, “One of the major reasons why the prices are high today is infrastructure. Nobody wants to travel long distances for work. Title insurance is another major issue in this industry.”
He also spoke on what he learnt from the short recession, “Liquidity is vital. Developers realised this when sales volumes declined drastically due to the liquidity crunch. The slowdown gave customers ample choice as affordable housing came into the industry in a big way. Investors are ‘fair-weather friends’, Sell ‘ready’ products during a slowdown; contracts can be broken; healthy growth can be sustained by a gradual increase in prices; high-value transactions hyped by the media are not the ‘real’ market and the need is to innovate sales strategy.”
Mr Kapoor said, “Are we heading towards another asset bubble? Are the prices affordable? What is wrong with the valuation and where is affordable housing? The government is responsible for hiking prices.”
He added, “We need a regulator for this industry to grow and curb wrong practices.”
The workshop saw participation from several investors, research analysts and industry experts. The event witnessed a healthy exchange of ideas between the participants.
Ms Kavita Hurry, CEO, ING Vysya Mutual Fund asked the speakers to highlight three major issues in the sector.
“Three most important things we need in real-estate as a priority are—rental housing, all over the world there is organised rental housing. Here you are left at the mercy of the broker who does not know anything. Secondly, infrastructure— the government cannot be a provider, it can be a facilitator. Thirdly, all these need funds, so get foreign parties excited about India,” said Mr Vakil.
Mr Kapoor said, “We need to address the congestion issue in the island city. If we move five buildings from the island city to Bandra, there will be a whole shift in the crowd. If we can shift Mantralaya, BSE or the Income-Tax office, there will be a difference. There are three-four magnets which draw the crowd there.
Everyone knows about it but there is no intension to do that because they are sitting in luxurious places. We need to add more connectivity. We need a complete master plan for Mumbai to reduce the congestion. We need a regulator, and urban planning.”
Other industry experts also voiced their opinion. Raymond Dastur, Vice President, real-estate, Shapoorji Pallonji said, “The government has to play an important role to facilitate housing which is affordable. We need the regulator who will facilitate the business.”
“FDI has already come into the city and we still have to see the results. There needs to be more transparency for FDI to flow into this country and more strict laws so that foreign players are also convinced while investing,” said Jesal Saghvi, executive vice president, Westbrook (India) Advisors Ltd.
The consensus among the audience was that there is a dire need for a citizen action forum to make higher authorities listen.
Pictures of the event
The glut of wine globally has affected many Indian farmers. Grape harvesters are now considering the option of either destroying their crop or selling their harvest at a much lower price
Throughout the world, there seems to be a glut of wine. On one side of the globe, in Australia, wine producers have been compelled to destroy nearly 40,000 hectares of vineyards, while in France, winemakers have turned their wines into ethanol. Even India’s wine-making pioneer, Indage Vintners, burnt its fingers when it tapped Australian and South African vineyards, leaving them severely leveraged.
Back home, the scenario is grim for Indian grape harvesters. A number of farmers are looking at destroying their crop, and a few are looking at selling their harvest at a much lower price than the market price.
“The supply and demand for grapes is the issue. The supply for grapes is abundant but there is no demand for them among winemakers,” says Violet D’souza, co-owner and managing director, Indus Wines.
Maharashtra’s grape cultivation has been steadily rising 10% every year, with currently over 3,000 acres under grape cultivation and making the State the largest contributor to the Rs 300-crore winery industry in the country.
Grape farmers are still awaiting their payments for their supplies to wineries last year. But what is even worse for these farmers this year is the fact that there are no buyers to buy their grapes. Wineries are not ready to buy the grapes due to the recession.
Many farmers have started selling their grapes to wineries on a credit basis in the hope of getting some cash in the future. Others have started selling their grapes at a price lower than the market price. “They are ready to do it because there are no takers and also they can’t be sold in the open market. The only ones, who can take their wines, are processors but they are not willing to do it,” says Nerraj Agarwal, head of agriculture, Sula Wines.
According to Ms D’souza, many farmers have given up hopes and are considering destroying their acres of land and cultivating new crops. “Nearly 40% to 50% of farmers have given up on their vineyards and switched over to other agriculture produce,” she said. Farmers are switching over from wine variety grapes to table variety grapes.
Farmers who have not signed any contracts with companies are the ones enduring the pains of the current scenario. “The very serious farmers will sustain and keep it going and the others might destroy their grapes,” said Ms D’souza.
Considering the circumstances Indage Vintners is facing, the only notable brand making its presence is Sula, which has been coming out with cheap and affordable wines. However, even Sula is suffering, according to a producer in the region whom Sula has approached to buy their grapes.
With the current state of affairs, state intervention seems to be a likely solution. “I have been told that some associations and farmers are planning to take these issues to the State government,” said a senior official from a major wine-making company.
That being said, this seems to be an error made by the government itself. Seduced by the promise of lucrative returns, mixed with glamour and agriculture, and added to the fact that some political heavyweights are involved in the industry, the government gave out incentives lavishly to the sector.
With concessions like zero excise duty, no stamp duty & registration fees, and concessional rates for land, the sector was expected to grow. The Maharashtra Industrial Development Corporation (MIDC) was appointed by the State as an agency to develop winery parks in Sangli and Nashik.
Retailing for wine became a lot easier when wine and beer licences were made available both for individual retailers and supermarkets. Then, just ahead of the State Assembly elections, the Congress-NCP government became more generous by reducing value added tax (VAT) to 4% from 25% on wine last October.
Out of the 58 wineries in the State, more than half have either shut down or stopped producing wine due to the glut in the market. In the last week of November when Moneylife had contacted Sula Wines, the winery still had over 40%-50% of its wine lying unsold in its tanks, while Indus Wines has around 90% of its wine still in its inventory. (http://www.moneylife.in/article/4/2543.html). The market for wine before 2007 was growing at 28%. Ever since 2008, the market has come down by 30%.