Monday, April 23, 2012

Rising from the Sands!

It is quite amazing, really. In fact, it is more than amazing - it is disconcerting. 
The flight is skimming over the desert with nothing but hundreds of miles of sand in all directions, and suddenly we see a huge set of skyscrapers jut out of nowhere! There are beautifully paved black roads that crisscross the sands, and even frightening - there suddenly appears a large traffic island with lush green manicured lawns!!
Welcome to Doha. 
Or rather, welcome to the Middle East, where make-believe is the reality. 
Travelers have always said that nothing can quite prepare you for the flood of oil prosperity that is visible all over the region. And they are right! Though we know that petro dollars buy prosperity like nothing else, it is still quite astonishing to see the creation sprout up right under your plane's wings! 
Honestly, this area was never meant by god to be this lush. But in modern times, God can always be convinced to change his intentions! When we think about it, it suddenly strikes us that not one thing in this my-building-highest world of showmanship would have been procured locally - save the sandstone which is available in plenty in the deserts. Every other thing would have been shipped from elsewhere, and that one realization itself is enough for us to understand why this is by far the world's most prosperous marketplace. The manager of the hotel i'm staying at tells me that each morning two plane loads of veggies are unloaded at Doha, in addition to all those hundreds of trucks which plow through the desert all night; and it is perfectly logical. What will people eat otherwise? Construction is happening like crazy. Almost every building in the city has a crane mounted on top, proving that there are greater heights to be scaled. 
Man's resourcefulness knows no bounds. Any mere mortal, looking at the spread of the desert, would have been frightened away to take up farming or sheep-rearing in their homeland. But then, these are no mere mortals! These are white-clad-super-humans fortified with petroleum! And when there is oil, everything else will follow suit! America provides Air Defence. The world's leading airlines joust for space and are willing to pay top dollar for a couple more parking slots. The port is choc-a-bloc with ships taking oil out and bringing everything else in, and there are hundreds more waiting out there to get a berth. No where else in the world does money have so much power - so blatantly!
But then that isn't a bad thing. We all love our money, and hoard it secretly! Here, it is openly put for display, and the world gawks.
Philosophically, the desert will claim all of this back sometime. There have been feudal lords that ruled over these sands hundreds of years ago, and most of their footprint has been lost in the movement of the dunes. The same is bound to happen again, and this time, the desert will have a tougher time, since Larsen and Toubro is at the helm of things, but take back it will! And in spite of that knowledge, there is so much money flowing around, it is fabulous!
You can't but love the Middle East. Flaunting is an art, and these people are its best known ambassadors.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Too intelligent for their own good

We often talk about Indian advertising being among the best in the world - and it is true too. Some of the world's most creative ads have come out of the Indian advertising agencies, and we continue to churn out some mind-boggling stuff each year!
But then, once in a while, our people become too intelligent for their own good, and the ad goes bouncer to the watching millions! The latest campaign of Vodafone is a classic such case.

Usually, Vodafone comes up with some amazing pieces of advertising - Zoozoos and The Pug campaigns have hit off brilliantly! The last one with the children wasn't up there, but the latest one - featuring the Chicken Vs Penguin Fun Fair campaign is quite strange! Really.

If you haven't watched it yet (which is possible only if you haven't been watching IPL at all), here it is again - 

Now, the purpose of this ad is to say that Internet is Fun on Vodafone. If you watched this for the first time, you may wonder what this has to do with the concept at all. Ogilvy is a smart company and hence they made sure that the ad comes up at least once every few minutes - allowing viewers to assimilate the information, and hopefully, catch on to what they wanted to convey in this strange roundabout campaign. If you watch closely, you'll see that the rollers on which the Chicken and Penguin have a race are attached to a scroll within the television set between them, and as they run, the scroll runs along, and up comes a trophy for the Chicken - when the morose anchor says that 'Chicken Wins'. Wow! Now why does another team have to blast them with jets of water is anyone's guess.

Why do internet ads all have to be so immensely confusing? Reliance takes us to a whole new level by getting a guy to open his knots and rush out of a car stranded on the way of a speeding train - all while watching a how-to video using the Dongle. Amazing, huh!

The TVC of Vodafone for IPL5 says that this is a series of 8 advertisements which will come up as the tournament progresses. We only hope that the next ones aren't as 'intelligent'. Go, folks - take a tip from the people who make ads for Pidilite - especially the chap that made the Fevikwik ad with five fish stuck to a little piece of wood. 
Bring 'em back!