Friday, May 22, 2009

Puli Kali

I worked on an Indian biscuit brand a couple of years ago in Sri Lanka.

The brand in discussion here was formulating a strategy to enter the Sri Lankan market.

A qualitative research agency was contracted by them to gauge consumer reactions to campaigns that were successful in the Indian market in the past.

Since testing the Hindi-led campagins wouldn't get the desired reactions, the Client instructed it's Ad Agency to get in touch with their Colombo office arrange for Sinhala translations.

In the following days, a number of print ads and TVCs made their way to my desk from India. Working overtime and encouraging the copywriters to do the same, the Agency was practically drowning in a sea of cookies and biscuits.

Time was our biggest enemy with the Research Agency and the Indian office of the Ad Agency constantly on our case. We concentrated all our efforts on delivering quality despite the constraints.

At the end of the 2 weeks, after working on a multitude of translations, the 'cracker' arrived.

The Account Manager based in the Indian office of the Ad Agency frantically called me up and said "One last request. There's one more brand you need to work on! URGENTLY!"

Curious to know more, I prodded him to share the details.

AM: "I will mail you all that, yaar!"

Me: "That's fine. At least tell me which sub-brand this one is!"

AM: "Tiger"

Me: "What?!?!? Are you kidding? You can't bring that sub-brand to Sri Lanka!"

AM: "We will definitely bring the sub-brand to SL. Who are you to stop us?"

Over the next 10 minutes, I tried all I could to convince the AM that his idea would 'bomb' for sure, in vain!

Relentless in his pursuit to 'impress' his Client/ Superiors, he mailed me the 'details' later in the day instructing us to 'immediately arrange translations for Tiger Biscuits' communication'.

With no life/medical insurance against my name and a practically non-existent bank balance, I feared the consequences I would have to face if a Sri Lankan colleague came across the communication that needed to be translated.

Since the AM was obviously ignorant of 'current affairs' and 'general knowledge', I knew there was nothing left to discuss with him. I then took the liberty of mailing the Branch Head of his office with an explanation as to why 'Tiger Biscuits' should be kept away from Sri Lanka.

If you haven't guessed by now (or if you are uninitiated), the tagline of the sub-brand in question read "X khao, Tiger ban jao!" or "Eat X and Become a Tiger!".

Monday, May 18, 2009

Handing Over

A few million frail hands outstretched skyward.

While some folded hands symbolize a prayer for an end to their ilk's misery,
the others send warning signals to their near and dear ones, to help them live this wretched life just a little longer.

"If we could tide over this for 26 years, we can definitely survive a few days more", say the mothers.

Ducking artillery and maneuvering mines, the innocent clasp each others' hands tightly and defy the cruel fate before them.

Pain and suffering are eerily omnipresent; but the near of it all is imminent.

Uncertainty looms its head large over the optimists, and the pessimists begin to see the light.

Hands that snatched babies away from cradles and conscripted them to a world of agony,
are now six feet under or charred beyond recognition.

Aged mothers, scarred inside and bruised outside,
stop beating their chests in despair and tend the survivors' wounds.

Erased forever from their minds are thoughts of ethnicity, native tongue and color of skin.

Reaching out for help, they tap the shoulders of the ever-smiling lion-hearted soldiers.

Triumphant troops, with hands that once stayed folded in the quest for peace but had to reluctantly shower bullets, now, lay down their ammunition and join hands with the mothers.

Hand in hand, they stand, make a smiling pact and take a vow to protect their motherland.