About the Guest Transcript

Ambi Parameswaran

Ads, content, product campaigns and every other drive is all based on extensive consumer data that is available. But ever wondered how did the brands work out the magic a decade back? We still sing along the Nirma's "washing powder Nirma". How did the old brands establish such powerful impact on their customers in India. Were the Ads that out of the box that we still remember and connect to? .

Ambi Parameswaran is here to take us back and help us understand the significance of Ads from a decade ago and now. He is a brand strategist as well as the veteran who started Ulka, now FCB Ulka, which had a hand behind many legendary time transcending ads of India. Being the CEO for 27 years, he is the best when it comes to anything about advertisements! Tune in to understand why you love the brand you use! Is it because of the product or the magic of the ad!


Shubham(00:01) -
Okay, so let us see how many of these brands can you identify? Well, these are some of the iconic brands from India's 90s. And my childhood. And I, for some strange reasons strongly connect with these ads because you know, they they didn't sell a product, but other aspirations and dreams. But how do brands do that? How do they tie such a strong knot with us, even to the medium is totally virtual? We have with us Ambi Parameswaran brand strategist to answer these for us. Namaste I am Shubham Agarwal, and you're listening to SOS secrets of storytellers, a podcast where I interview authors and writers from the world of business, literature, and many more. Don't miss out the last section, where we get to know secrets from the storyteller themselves. Hello, Ambi sir. Welcome to secrets of storytellers. How are you?

Ambi(01:01) -
Yeah. Hi, Shubham. Thank you for having me on your show. And at the end of the show, let's figure out what secret Am I going to tell you? If you have not told anyone till now. Trying to figure out

Shubham(01:15) -
Great, great. So Ambi sir you spent 27 years at your ad agency FCB will come You know, having partnered with them in 2016. Finally, tell us about this journey. And how badly do you miss it now?

Ambi(01:27) -
Well, I, like you, I graduated from I am Calcutta in 1979. Right? That's what 40 we are recording it in 2020. So total about 41 years ago. And I My first job was with an agency called rediffusion advertising. And, in fact, a lot of my friends used to one, you know, actually quite wondering why I was joining. I was an engineer, propriety and an MBA from my MCAT. I ended up joining an agency. So I was surprised in everyone's mind that why did I pick that career option. And I picked it because somewhere when I did my summer assignment with rate efficient, I realized that is very interesting field to be advertising is very low, you only see the outward view, like you hear the jingle, you see those models and all that. But there's a lot of thinking, which happens behind all that, right. So I joined advertising in 79, I left advertising in AD two, I was in marketing for six years with a company called booth where I handled brands like colder and structural burn all Bluefin kind of tones, prescription products. And then I went to Yellow Pages set up India's first yellow pitch company has worked there for two years as head of sales. And then the each to get back into advertising became very strong. So I joined ULCA in 1989, I base myself in Chennai, look after the southern operation, the World Cup, and the 94, I moved to Bombay. And I worked there till I retired. And then I continued for another three years kind of advisor in March 2016. Right, I stepped out completely from from FCB, or what was called Chi joint wilcon. And the company got acquired by FCV and became FCB ULCA when I left. So it was if you look at it, what 40 4040 plus years, yeah, in advertising marketing about if you count 26 years, 27 years and three years rediffusion 30 years in advertising and about 10 years in marketing sales. And now for the last four years in consulting and coaching and mentoring. Yeah, so it's been a long ride. But I would say differently. I do miss the the excitement of advertising that you know, challenging problems, creating ads working with the creative teams, sometimes you get the the idea comes in, in a few days, sometimes it takes months. And then of course trying and going and selling them to the client. Sometimes it's easy to sell sometimes very difficult to sell. There have been cases where one or two struggle for six months to sell an idea to a client. So missing some of that, but I'm not missing the definitely not missing the tensions of meeting quarterly budgets and right and payroll and appraisals and increments and managing teams, you know, yeah, so that I'm definitely not missing.

Shubham(04:35) -
Great. That's that's a wonderful journey. So your book nawaabs nudes and noodles, which came out in 2016. Yeah. Is it inside of you into the Indian advertisement world? You know, it covers many stories of a lot of iconic brands from FCB ULCA. And it has a lot of references from your work at FCPS as well and rightly so. But what I'm curious is why you piling up all these stories to convert it into a book from the very beginning?

Ambi(05:02) -
Well, you know, I, I started teaching in a business school in Mumbai in 1998 9697. And I, and that time I wanted cases to use in my class. So I, I wrote up some cases, myself based on our own brands, which he worked on, you know, like sun, and Robin, and our model and Tata Motors and stuff like that. And I started using them and teaching. And then someone friend of mine suggested, what did you publish it as a book. So I put it together as a book of cases that got published in the year 2000. With McGraw Hill, Tata McGraw Hill, as it was called. That was the first collection of 1415 cases I wrote. And then I wrote another version of that with some new cases, with a colleague of mine kinjal made that got published, I think, 28 or 2008, or 2010? I mean, I've been writing about brands, I've been writing cases, I've been writing articles. I've been writing all, you know, for a long time. So right, we count all my earlier books. Nawaab nudes and noodles, probably my ninth book, you know. So in a sense, I've been writing about advertising, I've been writing about brands, I've been writing about consumers, for now, not 20 years. Right. And it was, I think, 2014 when I was sitting in chatting with my, my agent, and he Shandy. At that time, I published a book called, for God's sake, which was based on religion and consumer behavior. And that had done okay. And he said, What next? I said, I don't have any ideas. So, so he said, You have so much experience on advertising, what did you write, I still remember him telling me the most definitive book on the history of Indian advertising. Okay, I said, Look, I've got a full time job. I can't I can't take out a year to devote to write a book on the history of Indian writing. But what you're saying is interesting, because I've done some research on certain advertising trends. And I said, let me see if you can write about how Indian society has changed. Yeah. And how advertising is reflected that changing Indian society. This led to the idea that, you know, initially, he was not very comfortable with it. I said, Look, I'm going to organize the book, not in terms of 1940s 1950s 1960s 1970s 1980s. No, I'm going to organize a book in terms of consumer, consumers, women, men, children, products, like automotive, financial services, stuff like that, right. And I will look at how advertising has changed our advertising is reflected the change in Indian society. He was not convinced. But you know, I started writing. And then when I got to God, going after a few chapters, he said, yeah, this is working. And then we got Pan Macmillan interested in the project, and then it took a year to write, I must have read, I don't know probably 50 books, by various people on on your advertising, I must have collected and read a lot of articles. And interestingly, the book came out after I left. So I knew it was gonna come out after a while he will cut Therefore, I was not constrained to writing only about FCB ULCA adds. Right. So if you look at a full list of all he had ever written about in the book love nudes noodles, I must have mentioned about 200 different dads right out of that probably 20 or from FCB will cut the violence are from all other good agencies known as an OB and, and j WT and mudra. I mean, all the agencies our work is there, right? So I do not just work on my buying brands, but it's a collection of work, which I thought reflected the changing society. You know, that was the only article I used. That didn't reflect society, then. Is this ad reflecting society now, how is the society changed? So that's the lens through which I looked at advertising. You know, a lot of people have done analysis on how, how Bollywood has reflected a change in Indian society. Yeah, yeah. Right. From the days when it was about, you know, freedom struggle, and then the whole nehruvian India socialism, and then the whole disenchantment, the angry young man phase. And then the whole idea of wooing the NRI and the Diwali the honeymoon phase. Yeah. And then now you're going through a kind of a josha, you know, you know, in a great kind of way So, so Rachel dire academic from UK has written several articles and books on this subject, but no one has looked at advertising right, and said, Look, I was advertising reflecting our changing society. And that's, that's what I attempted to do and and I got a call a publisher penguin. And I had a very good editor, Dr. Kar and Dr. kar actually gave a lot of very valuable inputs and chopped a lot of stuff I'd written. And it came out came out very well. So the book did well, continues to do well, yeah. It was nominated for the crossword Book Awards. It was a finalist. That year, right. And it also got nominated several other Book Awards. So it was a good it was fun book, it took a lot of reading, and I spoke to a lot of people for inputs, many of them were mentioned in the book. And it was a enjoyable process, when the biggest reward is very different from what you would have imagined. What do you think is the biggest reward of this book? Can you guess?

Shubham(10:48) -
People coming back to you and, you know, appreciating the book? Yeah. I mean, that's, that's, that's Yeah, that's to be expected. That's, that's a very normal one.

Ambi(10:58) -
But, you know, I get a call from an old colleague of mine who was running one of the programs at mica, okay. And he called me and he said to me, I heard something very interesting. I said, What, what happened to watch? So he said, You know, we're interviewing prospective students in Bangalore. And we just finished an interview with a girl. She said, I got interested in advertising after reading nawab, nudes and noodles. Wow. So I said, wow. Yeah. I mean, that's the ultimate, you know, I mean, if you're my, I'm saying, as I've spent so many years advertising advertising has done so much for me. And if this book ends up making 20 3050 102,000, bright young people get interested in advertising, that's fine. say, look, I want to join, it looks like a very interesting thing. You know, it's not just about, you know, models and music, it seems very interesting. Now, I want to get into advertising, then the book, his book has done its job. And I've, I've done my job. So fortunately, I keep getting this kind of feedback. Once in a while, and I go and talk in campuses. I don't I forget which one, I think it was. Mica last year and two girls walked up to me and said, you know, we got interested in this because you know, we read your book. And that's why we come and do, you know, advertising course at mica, right. So I heard that a couple of times in one or the other. few other business schools. So that's good. I mean, if that happens, more and more good, yeah. And in the lockdown, I've seen a lot of traction around this. people posting messages on LinkedIn, and Facebook and Twitter and in fact Harish bot brand custodial Tata? Yep. The early stage of lockdown in April wrote an article saying these are the five or six books you should read during the lockdown. And I was happy that he included nawabi doodles is one of the six books to be read by marketers during the lockdown. So it's nice to see that the book is now 40 years old. But good to see that it's still being talked about. It's still currency. So that's nice.

Shubham(13:08) -
You you rightly said, you know, if you can spark that motivation in someone to pursue it as a career, I think that's that's huge. That's really big. And I'm sure, it gives you a lot of satisfaction beyond what the book has done for you.

Ambi(13:21) -
Yeah, it's very good to get that feeling. saying we really enjoyed it. You know, I got interested in advertising and got interested in branding. So that's, I think of an ultimate reward. Right, right. Yeah.

Shubham(13:33) -
I can see the book behind you. I'm also intrigued by the name. It's very interesting.

Ambi(13:38) -
This is an alliterative name, right? I mean, what is this called? same letter repeating is called alliteration. Right? Right. So I have always been a fan of these kinds of names. You know, one of my favorite hindi movies is Amar Akbar Anthony. Okay, you know, a so. So that's when the idea was to give this book a nice catchy name. I didn't want it to be a boring title, like Indian society through advertising. Right. You know, right. It doesn't doesn't make sense. But

Shubham(08:14) -
Wonderful. And were the people who were trying to deceive you in some manner.

Ambi(08:18) -
Of course, again, yeah, that and that is something that I had anticipated, and that I knew that would happen, because, you know, I mean, you have to remember that this is your first huge startup success story. That is nothing that compares with Tiger does not mean just to give you some context before the Flipkart sale, The biggest m&a in India in the Indian startup space was like some $400 million. Right now, we're talking about $400 million. And we're talking about a $16 billion sale correctly, there's just no comparison. So, I mean, it was just such level mistakes over here was so high. And it was basically done by, you know, the company was started and run by a set of people who weren't very experienced folks who weren't very mature people, either, you know, they were very young kids, like young guys weren't really learning and iterating as things came along. So, I mean, this was bound to happen where, you know, like, like, you put, like, a bunch of extremely aggressive, smart engineers, and smart people for so many years, together, the first time without any ecosystem, to kind of, you know, make it easier for them to deal with things and all that. I mean, there was bound to be, you know, that many, like, tried individual agendas of that sort. So yeah, I mean, I certainly had to be very wary of, you know, why someone is telling me that there's a difference between fact and interpretation. Yeah, you know, our facts and context. So, like a fact without its context can appear in a completely different light than when you know, the color So, more than facts, because facts are actually much, much easier to corroborate, and to, you know, confirm what is really difficult is to get, like the story behind, you know, the context of the facts.

Shubham(14:13) -
People wouldn't have picked it up as as curiously I think.

Ambi(14:16) -
Yeah, so I think the book should be, should be interesting, right? It's a very fun read. It's not a very heavy duty heavy duty area. So I said, I want something fun. So that's when this whole idea of a valley I alliterative named Nawab nudes and noodles came up. And when I gave it when I suggested it to my editor and my agent, they said, yeah, this sounds great, because that's, you know, it's got the right kind of quirkiness and advertising to be remembered, you need to be a slightly quirky to get into, you know, to become a meme and get into people's head. So, it had the right bit of quirkiness. So, you know, it worked. I mean, I didn't we didn't have to go forward, backward. Too many times, very often you have to go forward, backward. On Yeah, on name of books in this case within a few days, he said, yeah, this is it, you know, we'll go with this.

Shubham(15:09) -
Great, great, wonderful. So obviously, I will dig down a bit into the, you know, the advertisement and the marketing vision that you have. And the question that I have is that, you know, data is the new oil, they say, and ads or content is heavily data driven these days, as we see. But did you also have the iconic brands that you've talked about in the book, also sit on tons of data back in the day?

Ambi(15:31) -
Well, I think, you know, those days, we didn't have this kind of data which you have today. Right? Right, because I remember setting up the Tata Motors, loyalty program, we call it the IndyCar club. Okay. And this was set up in 1988, or 1999. And, and until 2000, okay, we didn't have data, we didn't have data of car owners, you know, those are the days before SAP had been implemented. So we actually had to send our field investigator to the 100 dealerships to physically write down the name of the owner and the address and the phone number. Because very often, the car is hypothecated to a leasing company. So the invoice has the leasing company, you know, named model, the car owner's name is there in the RC book, RC book data we don't have, right. But what we found was when the when the guy comes, for the first service, he gets all this done, he puts his name puts his number, so that, you know, we went there and started pulling that out. Today, it's all available, right? Today, all the data is available with every car company. So today, the companies, especially if you look at consumer durables, automotive, financial services, they all have sitting on a lot of data through what do they do with it? is a different cup of tea completely. Yeah. Okay. But they all sit on a lot of data, correct compared to those days. Right. The other myth which which exists is that marketing is today all data. Data? Well, marketing is not just data, you know, you need to understand consumers understand consumer insights. So there is this huge divide between what I call the data driven marketing theorists and the consumer driven marketing theory. Right. So in the good old days, you had what are called Digital agencies, and you had mainline agencies, okay, mainline agencies, understood consumers, understood brands, digital agencies, understood only numbers. Okay, but I think now, we are coming to say that these two are kind of talking to each other and figuring out a joint thing. But it is wrong to say that, with the advent of data, everything else can be thrown out of the window. Right? You still have to invest time and effort to understand who's buying your product? What are the reasons behind a purchase? And what can you do to get her to change her behavior? Right. So data is the new oil is a kind of a catchphrase, but what are you doing with it? The bigger question to answer Yeah.

Shubham(18:17) -
Right. And how are you understanding the consumer back then then? Because that's the important question, then what were some of the best practices or, you know, novel tools that you used? In those days?

Ambi(18:28) -
You do, you do basic classic consumer research, you do consumer research, you do qualitative research, you do very large scale quantitative research. And you then analyze the data to arrive at insights, you know, whether it is the famous now Creek campaign, you know, hurry sardo campaign, you know, right, which I've written about the book about, why do employees quit companies? They don't quit companies, they quit bosses, this is an insider info notice search, right? All look at the famous advertising campaign where, you know, this insight came again, from researching what does it What does a woman want to feel like he wants to feel young? And what is the biggest biggest problem they have when they grew up when they have a baby, they start looking old, right. So, the biggest compliment a mother of a three year old child can get is that are you still in college? Right. So, these are based on on insight. Now, you cannot throw away classical research and say everything is gonna come from data may not come right it may not come from data, maybe something will come maybe something will not come. So, you got to be you know, the other other problem with only depending on consumer data, what you get from data is there is somewhat of a self selection bias. Suppose you go and look at, you know, it's well known fact that if someone is unhappy with your product, chances are the deal complaint is 90%. Yeah, but is a person who's satisfied with your product. They're not gonna say that I'm happy with the product. Correct. Okay. So if you go by that you can actually get into a kind of a paranoid state, and people are complaining so much about my product, right? So you have to marry the two, I think where data is going to be very useful for you is to run experiments. So today, you can, you know, I, we could not run experiments the way you can today. Today, you can, with the help of online partners, you can actually run experiments on seeing what works better, right? Yeah, it's very easy, right? When you can make your pack look a little different and see if there is, but this is not, in a sense is not new, because we used to run these experiments earlier. But now you can run it in scale. Correct? You can, you can, on a same day, you can test five different packaging looks. Right? Yeah. And see what response you can get from consumers. So experimentation, I think, is the is going to be become more and more important going forward.

Shubham(20:59) -
Right. Another thing that I feel, you know, this is my personal understanding. So like, we look at ads in the book as well, you know, these are ads, which were made, and we looked at them how they performed only in the past, can we define make ads? Given that, you know, this is where the future is going? And this is how the ads will look like?

Ambi(21:18) -
Well, you know, if you look at it, I've talked about this in the book. You know, there's a book written by a professor at California called agender advertisements, very looked at 300 400 print advertisements in America, and talked about how various genders you know, male or female have presented in ads, right? This came out close to 40 years ago. Now, after my analysis of all the Indian ads, I'm finding that a lot of brands are taking a bold step towards what I call new visualization. They're visualizing new relationship. They're visualizing new equations, like if you remember the air tell ad, where the where the wife is the boss of the husband. Yeah. Right. That is not that is not something you see every day, but the brand took a stand, and visualized a new, new future consumer world, right, right, or, or the tarnish guide, where this dark skinned lady is getting married for the second time. Now she's got a child who's five years, six years old. Now that's again, you know, normally, brands tend to stick to the safe core, which is the middle, correct, right? But the more adventurous brands try to go to the edge, they say, look, let's look at the fringe consumer. And let's see if we can learn something from that consumer, let's not try and put it in the ad. You know, Titan does it very well, fast track has always tried to push the edge, you know, look at a fringe consumer, whether it is LGBT calls, or or, or you know, those kinds of things. So I think now, more and more brands are trying to say that, look, let's, let's go after a slightly fringe consumer, and try it. But you know, you cannot, you know, future proof, an ad write an ad is made for a particular time, it has to work at a particular time, you can't take the same ad and say, will it work five years from now? You will never know. Yeah, right. Some campaigns, you know, the favorite call campaign is running for so many years, you know, the subdued campaign is running for so many years, sundrop camera and so many years. Some of these are kind of classics, they can run for decades, but some others, you will have to make some major changes, you know, major changes in terms of how the society is changing. You know, I've written about that in the book, right? Like the prestige, Joby musiker APR, which is a case a Korean car, you know, at that time was fine. But now they've taken the same line, kind of slapped it on a situation where Abhishek Bachchan is cooking for hdri. Right now, I thought it was a kind of a false fit. But, but full marks for trying that they took some classic thing and put it back. Yeah, but but you know, you cannot, cannot look at a campaign and say, Look, will this work five years from now? I may not. Right. If the consumers change, they will not work, the core idea may still work, you may have to dramatically re visualize that idea. Right? Right. So some core idea, like for example, you know, it you have fun when you meet friends, it's a good idea, right? I mean, that may work in one particular way. Today, we work very differently. thing or for example, I think laser you can never stop with one correct, right? So you want to open a lace package, you can't stop now, that's an idea which can last years right. So but the execution has to be different, you know, you may have to show different types of people, different situations, etc, etc. So you cannot future proof your ad. I mean, an ad is supposed to serve a particular purpose at a particular time. You cannot say, will that work in 2025? I don't know. Yeah, it may work may not work.

Shubham(24:54) -
Right. Right. And we hear people say that, you know, there's a lot of noise in the market. But I think So has the convenience and the ease of producing these ads, you know, given the access to the tools that we have today is easier. So would you say a marketers job has become easier, or rather difficult in any way today.

Ambi(25:13) -
Marketers job has actually become very difficult today. You know, I, when I started my career matters in 1979. We used to spend hours together discussing with clients and then create one ad. And that ad used to run for a year minimum, sometimes it used to run for two years, right. And then you have to just do your media planning, media inputs, promotions, etc, you win the market, the brand manager was busy with other things. But the ad is done and it is going around. Now, it's not the case. Now, the the ad you create may run for if it's Instagram is going to run for probably one day. Correct. on YouTube, it'll run for seven days. And on Facebook around for three days, are you going to keep creating new ads. And the other problem is that brands tend to think that what you put on social media can be done by by a rookie, right? But the danger is that rookie may make a mistake with your brand and the brand then has to pay the price. So you have to spend time effort making sure every piece of work you do for the brand is on strategy is talking to the right target audience is saying the right thing. If not one, you may make a mistake, which will you'll have to pay dearly for it. Right? Or you may say some wrong thing, which today we'll have to backtrack. Or you're just wasting money. Right? I mean, there's no point in creating a installer or a Twitter or a Facebook message saying good morning, from parlay G. What does it do? Nothing does nothing correct. Right. are happy, happy janmashtami from you know, Britannia Marie doesn't make sense. Yeah, what? What is the relevance man. But you know, a lot of what I'm not saying is that bad today, but 10 years ago, a lot of companies had hired social media agencies, with the promise that the social media agency will create three posts a day, the three posts used to be just Good morning, good afternoon, good evening, stuff like that, which is complete nonsense. Now, fortunately, I think that has stopped today, people have realized that and brands have done great work to understand how to monitor this. So the marketers life has become a lot tougher, I would say, in fact, what you said, you know, today you can a kid sitting in at home can create an ad is a is a positive. It's also a negative, right? I mean, therefore the consumer wants new stuff. So your your half life of your ad, which may have been nine months, let's say, five years ago, or 10 years ago, today's probably nine days. So it's a big challenge on how to how to navigate. And no one knows the exact answer yet. You know, because it's very expensive. You want to produce, yeah, let's assume you're a big brand. Right? You're like Pepsi, and you need to produce one fabulous message every day. Let's say a print message is still message. Right? And you have to produce a fabulous video message every week. Imagine the cost? Yeah. Yeah, creating great messages, what you're saying is, the production part of it is maybe may have become cheap, but you know, talent is expensive. Correct? So where are you going to get the talent to do that. So you need great talent, great talent to create ideas, which will, you know, which will resonate with consumers, and you have to keep monitoring it. Right. So, you know, I, I'm very active on on Facebook and LinkedIn and on Twitter, and I monitor, I have a social media advisor and I monitor what what is working? And I don't actually I don't care, right, because, you know, nothing is worse. I mean, the good thing happens guys, like you will get in touch with me and we are doing this podcast. Yeah. But if you are a brand, you gotta be worried about this right? I mean, what am I doing what is working? What is not working? And also what is my competition doing? Yeah, what are they doing? What is what is working, what is not working? And in that domain, you may even say look, I may be a cookie brand. But let me study what the cola brands are doing or what the what the wafer chip brands are doing, because I need to learn. Right? So it's become become very interesting, very challenging. Very tough. They need a lot of good people to advise them on this.

Shubham(29:35) -
Yeah, right. Right. I understand. I and I agree, you know, when you say I've created this podcast, but I go breaking my head every day when I'm going to sleep that what is working, what is not working? What are the campaigns that are working for my podcast, what are not so and yes, it needs a lot of talent and effort to do beyond just the podcast. So So yeah, I totally agree with you. So obviously, you you founded brand building.com to help and mentor brands with Their ad campaigns with the different campaigns that they will run. What is the biggest trouble with brands today? And if you were to share one piece of advice, which can help them perform better, what what would that be?

Ambi(30:11) -
Yeah, so I, you know, you know, my, my concern, I mean, I'm I I do consulting on my own, and there are bigger projects, I have partners associates whom I bring on board, and we worked on projects together. But I think a lot of time today, brand teams in different product category, whether it is fmcg, pharma, healthcare, home decor, I work across different sectors, and I've done work with probably 20 clients in the last three, four years I've been active, the biggest problem is not getting the basics, right. A lot of times, they get carried away into saying, what campaign should we do? What should we do? I say, look, hold hold hold? Do we know our consumer? Do we know who's buying our product? Do you know who's not buying our product? Why are they not buying our product or service? Right? Okay. Let's go back. So very often, the first thing we do when we work with any client? Is that do you have consumer data? Do you have consumer knowledge? And let's start there. And then from there, you emerge and you come out and say, Okay, this is what the consumer is saying, this is your brand. And the next time we try and work on is what is your brand positioning statement? Can you write it in a Twitter sized message? Right. And very often clients stumble, brand teams are not clear. I said, Look, how are you doing brand campaigns, when you don't know what is your brand positioning? Right. So brand positioning statement looks simple. About freshness, freshness, everyone is about freshness, so great about you. Right. So we actually spent time taking them through a an exercise on how to write a brand positioning statement. And I say, look, once you've written the brand positioning statement, make a big poster and put it up. Everything you do, should be aligned to that. Right, right. Everyone in your company should be aware of that if I wake up your salesman, I wake up your regional manager, territory manager and tell him what is the positioning of this brand, they should be able to say, this brand is meant for this person. And this is what and we spend time telling people you know, brand positioning statement is not the baseline Nikes positioning is not, you know, just do it. Rather their tagline Don't, don't get confused. So we start with a basic saying what is your consumer? What are they saying? What is your brand? And then start now making the connections? How do you make this brand resonate with your consumer that calls for, you know, what kind of a creative brief you will write? How do you brief the agency? How do you evaluate the advertising, which is being, you know, which is being created? And then when the advertising breaks in the market? How are you going to monitor whether the advertising is working or not working? Right? So it's a process. This could take anything from three months to two years. But very often now, because you know, what we talked about? Because there's so much happening? Now I want to do Facebook or Twitter, hold it? Hold it before you do Facebook, Twitter, first, where is your brand? What does it stand for? Who's your consumer? Why is she buying it? or Why is she not buying it? Now? Let's understand that. Right? And that takes time. Easy, it looks easy. I can say that in two minutes in this podcast, but in reality, it's a struggle. It's a struggle, because you know, today mujhe Twitter karna yeh karna hain. Hello.

Shubham(33:37) -
Get the basics right.

Ambi(33:48) -
Yeah, always.

Shubham(33:50) -
Great I think I agree. And you know, that's, that's our advice for myself as well. Because I remember back in, back in the MBA days, every marketing Professor used to keep putting into our heads, get the basics right, know your consumer, know why they're buying, understand them, and then do whatever you want to do. There are hundreds of things that you can do, but then understand the consumer first. Right. So thank you, thank you so much for sharing that advice. I'm explaining it so well and so easily. Alright, so obviously, this brings us to the last and concluding section of the podcast, which is my personal favorite, and which you were looking forward to I hope you have by now thought of one secret that you would like to share with us. Like he said, so what would that be?

Ambi(34:33) -
Okay, let me share that I don't think I've sent in I've delivered more than 150 talks around this book. Right? I would maybe have not had this. Well, you know, as a part of the process of doing research on this book, I read a lot of a lot of other books. I also met a lot of interesting people and talk to them. And I remember spending a lot of time with Dr. Cindy kuna. The former CEO of Linda's And I've quoted him extensively in my book. But I also keen on meeting I like Paramvir singh who succeeded. You know, there is in many ways lit as because of their closest with knit with leavers did a lot of pioneering work in advertising. So, but then, you know, I knew that going and meeting I like he would keep talking, but I may not get what I want. So, I decided not to meet Alec, I took a conscious call, I will not reach out to him, okay. But I will try and read his book. He's written a very nice book called double life. But I couldn't find it. You know, it was out of print or not available anywhere. So then I actually started rummaging the second and bookstores in Mumbai and I and in Flora fountain, in Mumbai, there is a whole series of these second hand bookstores. Right? And I managed to locate his book, double life. Okay, I found it fascinating. It's an interesting because half the book is about his life and advertising. The other half of the book is about his life in theater. Right? And he's written about both. So I read the book, I read it a long time back when I read it again, and, and I found a few nuggets there, which are very interesting. And I've quoted quoted from that book, in my book. So it was, I think, getting the book would serve me better than you know, if I had gone and met Alec, right. Myself, but it worked better for me. I think the book was, you know, the, because Hollywood talked about now you would talk about what you put into the book so many years ago, and we got some nice, nice interesting stuff there. So that's the one little SOS secret which I thought everyone knows Alek, Alek is a very, very famous personality,

Shubham(36:51) -
I don't think needs any introduction at all.

Ambi(36:56) -
First started as a professional to get a Padma Shri right. act as a motherly Jenna in the Gandhi movie. towering personality. Yeah. And that his book is great, unfortunately, not offered. But it's great fun read, and I found it very useful in my own research. So thank you. Thank you.

Shubham(37:14) -
Thank you for sharing such a wonderful, beautiful secret.

Ambi(37:17) -
Thank you. And I hope your listeners will enjoy our conversation. It went a little longer than we thought. But yeah. Good. So thank you very much. Thank you. Thank you for listening.

Shubham(37:29) -
Thank you so much. And thank you for your time. We had a lot of fun listening to all your stories, and I'm sure our listeners would love it. Thank you to all the listeners as well. This is Shazam signing off until the next secret. I'm an ex storyteller. Goodbye

Advertisements: Then and Now with Ambi Parameswaran


Related Episodes

Indranil Chakraborty

Storytelling has been revered as one of the most important skills since it ensures you leave an impact on the listener and communicate effectively.

Take me to the episode
Suresh Sadagopan

A majority of us have a hard time planning our personal finances, often. While we know it is important and we intend to manage them better, we are lost as to where to start.

Take me to the episode
Harish Bhat

What does it take to become a Brand Custodian at the Tatas, who better to answer than the Brand Custodian himself.

Take me to the episode