Omar Jamil, CEO Latitude blogs for Aurora from New Delhi
Session 6 – Final session for the day – India 2010
Kurush Grant, Executive Director, ITC Ltd
Sanjay Kapoor, CEO Bharti Airtel Limited, India & South Asia
Ravi Swaminathan, Managing Director and Regional Vice President, Sales and Marketing, AMD India
Moderator: Pankaj Ghemawat, Global Strategist, professor and author
This session is essentially about branding India – so I’ll probably spend the least amount of time, given that it’s probably least relevant for Aurora readers.
Ok, so far this session is incredibly boring – more than twenty minutes in and we still haven’t heard anything about branding India. Instead we’re being told a whole lot of stats and figures (“Indian penetration in different parts of the world.”) and here we go, the penny drops. We’re being given these stats to determine how and where India needs to focus its branding activities.
It seems that I’m not the only one disengaged – a lot of people have left the main hall and are milling about… Ok, now we’re finally on to the panellists. That was one long ‘introduction’ from the moderator. Not much applause either.
Kurush Grant – what does Brand India stand for and what do Indians want from Brand India? Problem is too many disparate views. Some people want it to be manufacturing or trade led; others focus on tourism.
Sanjay Kapoor – talking mostly about background on what’s relevant for branding India. The inevitable social media and digital applications for marketers comes up. Interestingly, Sanjay is talking in more general terms about brands and branding. The connection from general to specific vis-à-vis Brand India is easy.
Ravi Swaminathan – last thing that India needs to worry about is Brand India – focus on the fundamentals, and the brand will take care of itself. So forget about Brand India – instead build great Indian companies. Discusses what defines an Indian brand – is it location? If so, what if a brand like Tata moves abroad? Does it remain an Indian brand?Moving forward, Ravi believes brands will cease to be ‘country-connected’. “Country brands are 20th century,” he says. “Moving forward, there are just good brands and bad brands.”
Sadly, the session did nothing to deconstruct the Brand India campaign. I think it would have been far more constructive and useful for the delegates, who hail from across Asia (and like me, are likely not that interested in the nitty gritties of Brand India) to use the Incredible India campaign as a case study and share the learnings with the delegates. I personally would have been extremely interested in seeing how the learnings from that campaign could be applied to, say, Pakistan – or Bangladesh. And to see how the mix or PR and advertising helped (or didn’t help?) India’s trade, tourism etc – those aspects of Brand India that were mentioned in the session.
Anyway, session’s done. Long day! There’s an ‘extravaganza’ planned for this evening (the Dentsu Royal Darbar) at the Ashoka Hotel – kathak performance followed by musical performance. Will post about it in the morning (unless it’s deathly boring and I leave for home early – in which case, I’ll post up tonight).
PS: Forgot to mention earlier, the MC for the day was Diana Hayden, former Miss World – head and SHOULDERS above yesterday’s Mr Irani.
Darbar evening kicks off at the Ashok Hotel. Very elegant - men and women have turbans tied. Pictures taken and refreshments served before we proceed to the entertainment for the evening. Following the usual assortment of speeches (Madhukar walksdown the ramp to deliver!), we are graced with a fantastic performance of Odissi dance performed (get this!) by a lovely Japanese lady, Masaka Ono. Masaka starts with a solo performance then is joined on stage by models showcasing the clothes of designer Vikram Phadnis (maybe I'm biased but ourPakistani models are SO much more beautiful!).
The Odessi performance combined with the fashion show was quite lovely. It was especially interesting to see Odessi being danced to modern electronica House-ish music, with models walking the ramp alongside. Quite an intriguing combination - and one that worked. It was especially interesting to see how perceptions of a classical dance like Odessi can shift when performed to modern music.
Dance and fashion show followed by exclusive musical performance from a traditional Rajasthani tribe that only plays music, Manganiyars. Can't see the instrument from where I'msitting but it sounds a lot like a sarangi. Haunting vocals kick off. Bulleh Shah's kalaam. All very qawali-esque. Just realised - one guy standing in front - like a conductor - is also playing the castanets! Quite amazing! Now joined by a dhol wala. Truly electric!
Quite lovely and a wonderful end to what was generally not a terribly exciting day. Only criticism is that the performances could be shorter (same as the night before). After a full day conference, one welcomes a bit of entertainment, but more than that, sustenance! Dinner is yet to come - while it promises to be good I am not sure I can hold out.
Hopefully tomorrow's momentum will pick up.