Archive for December, 2012


It’s been a somber end to the year here in India, and I felt that the poem below aptly wraps up the reality of the year gone by – all the joys and sorrows, highs and lows, that keep the carousel of life spinning.

The Year

What can be said in New Year rhymes,

That’s not been said a thousand times?

The new years come, the old years go,

We know we dream, we dream we know.

We rise up laughing with the light,

We lie down weeping with the night.

We hug the world until it stings,

We curse it then and sigh for wings.

We live, we love, we woo, we wed,

We wreathe our prides, we sheet our dead.

We laugh, we weep, we hope, we fear,

And that’s the burden of a year.

— Ella Wheeler Wilcox


But let me also heed the slogan I read on the board outside a church in Bandra, ‘Never let a bleak past cloud a future happy new year’ ;

And in that spirit, express my hope that 2013 will be better and happier than 2012, and will bring all our readers success, prosperity and joy.

  •  Zenobia

December 31, 2012 at 11:38 am Leave a comment


On Lifebuoy colour changing handwash :

Over a year ago, we’d written about the Lifebuoy team’s efforts to change the hand-wash habits (or lack of the same) of Indians in this post.  The post called attention to one aspect of Lifebuoy’s Swasthya Chetana campaign, the ‘glowgerm’ demonstration that children were invited to take part in. This involved applying a white powder to the palms of their hands, then washing with water only. Hands were then held under an ultra-violet light and the powder glowed where dirt remained, showing that hand-washing without soap was not enough. The children then repeated the process, this time using soap, only to discover the UV light showed no trace of the powder. This countered the common misconception that ‘visibly clean’ is ‘hygienically clean’, and, in an easy-to-understand manner, drove home the message that even clean-looking hands are dirty until washed with soap.

lifebuoy colour changing handwash 2

Now they’ve used colour changes to make another point with their latest product, Lifebuoy colour changing handwash. This time, the foam turns green after ten seconds to signal that all the germs have been wiped out. Am sure that the change in the colour as they scrub will grab every kid’s attention and ensure that they don’t wash the soap off immediately but scrub for a full ten seconds, at least while the product and the effect are still a novelty. As a communication tool, felt that the hulk mascot worked well too. You can view the ad for the product here.  


On the frozen yogurt market :

frozen yogurt brands

One of the trends we commented upon last year was the increasing popularity of hip frozen yogurt stores which could be termed cafés in terms of their popularity as hang-out places for youngsters.

The rapid expansion of this market has seen more competitors entering, read about the entry of foreign brands including the U.S based ‘Red Mango’, Canadian ‘Kiwi Kiss’ and others here, here, here and here.


  • Zenobia Driver


December 28, 2012 at 9:54 am Leave a comment

‘Hukus Bukus’, ‘Alive is awesome’ and other ads

Shubha Mudgal’s article in last Saturday’s Mint directed us to an ad with lovely music and reminded us that it’s been ages since we commented on any ads on this blog. So here are some of the ads we’ve noticed and liked during the last few months :


The ICICI Bank savings account  ad – Hukus Bukus:

It’s not just the music that’s charming, the entire ad tells a simple and heartwarming story – cannot fault it on execution at all. Nostalgia, Kashmir, childhood, music and a happy ending – the combination ensure that it’s an ad one can watch multiple times without getting bored.

When one is dealing with a mundane product such as a savings bank account and the functional superiority over competition is difficult to establish, it’s essential to build a story that’s interesting, hooks the viewer, connects at an emotional level and efficiently communicates the brand’s promise – all tasks that this ad delivers on.


Bank of India ad :

From an ad that used the magic of music and the mountains of Kashmir to one that’s set in the backwaters of Kerala. This Bank of India ad also uses images from childhood and emotion, the story in this one is simple and sweet too – while the piggy bank idea is not original, it’s well executed, and it links the story to the brand’s promise / benefit; but in this one we felt the benefit mentioned is a bit of a weak link. Unless, of course, the target segment for Bank of India are those who find banks and their officials intimidating and difficult to deal with – for such a TG the ad makes perfect sense.

p.s. Loved the adorable kid in this ad, especially the solemn expression on his face when he tries to hide his piggy bank from the boatman’s gaze.


Cinthol ad, ‘Alive is Awesome’ :

From ‘Imran’s freshness soap’ to ‘Vinod’s body confidence soap’ to ‘Tan Taazaa Man Taazaa’ to ‘Get Ready Get Close’ to ‘24 hour confidence’ to ‘Alive is awesome’, it’s been a long and winding journey for the Cinthol brand.

While there’s no denying that the brand needed to rejuvenated and reinterpreted, we had mixed opinions on this ad. It is pretty cool and gives the brand a different vibe – younger, more fun, almost yuppie but still adventurous; yet we felt that some sections were a bit clichéd and the execution could have been better. We’re also wondering on whether a brand that was so rooted in male grooming will make the switch to being a unisex brand or whether this will weaken its identity in the bargain.

However, in the short term, the move can only help the brand engage with younger consumers, especially with the new hip packaging in cool shades.


Bournvita ad, vitamin D plus calcium :

We liked how they’ve explained the need for Vit D on order to ensure proper absorption of Calcium; it is quite a new concept for most consumers and not an easy thing to educate them on, but the ad uses the child to state this in a fairly direct and simple manner.

The only improvement we’d have liked to see in this ad is some explanation of why vitamin D is needed for absorption of calcium and the mechanism by which Bournvita delivers the vitamin D, even a simplified representation of these might have added to the believability of the ad.


  • Roshni Jhaveri and Zenobia Driver


December 17, 2012 at 6:17 am Leave a comment

Pyramid, kite or door – Comparing age profiles of countries

Last week we ran a post from the blog ‘Brick and Rope’ on the greying of Japan. The transition of Japan’s demographic profile from a pyramid to a kite was so stark that it made me curious about population pyramids for other countries. This post has the data for India, China and France, and by next week we’ll try and look up some interesting information on questions arising from these.

india's population pyramid 2
The Population Projection Report 2006 (for entire report, click here) by the Technical Group on population projections commissioned by the National Commission on Population includes these tables. This link shows how India’s population pyramid is expected to become squatter in shape by 2050. In fact, it pictorially shows the changes 1995 on.

China's population pyramidThis report shows how the population pyramid of China is changing with time. If you want to have some fun with this, check this link – it has an interesting animation which shows how the age composition of China’s population will change over time (from 1950 to 2050).









An interesting comparison of the demographic profiles of India and China here in this interview with a senior advisor to the National Bureau of Asian Research, relevant excerpt below :

How does this profile compare with other major states in the Asia-Pacific region, especially China, which is still the most populated country in the world?

China is clearly the obvious comparator to India, with a current population of over 1.3 billion. No other countries are even close in scale to these two.

India is on track to become the world’s most populous country in the not-so-distant future, however. Both Census and UNPD projections anticipate that India’s population will exceed China’s by 2025, and the UNPD’s projections imply that the crossover may occur even sooner than that—possibly within a decade.

By 2030, current projections envision that China will have entered into a long-term depopulation. That impending depopulation is by now virtually unavoidable and has already been “baked in the cake,” so to speak. The county’s fertility trends sank below the replacement level two decades ago and are currently estimated to be 30% below replacement.

China’s working-age population is on track to peak around 2015 and will have been shrinking for a decade and a half by 2030. By contrast, India’s steadily growing working-age population will be the world’s largest well before 2030.

China will be aging very rapidly over the decades immediately ahead. By 2030, the population’s median age will likely be about 43 years, up eight years from today, and the 65 years and older share will be approaching 17%, twice as much as today. Accordingly, China will face the burdens that come with an aging population. By 2030 it will be a decidedly “grayer” society than America today—on an income level far below current OECD norms, even assuming rapid material progress.

China’s coming population profile will also be characterized by major changes in family structure. Due to the prevalence of female feticide today, China now has a biologically abnormal “excess” of little boys, which portends a potentially monumental “marriage squeeze” in the decades ahead. While China currently has a universal marriage norm, in less than a generation a fifth or more of men in their late 30s or early 40s may be essentially unmarriageable. This is a demographic wildcard for China’s future and may presage unpredictable social strains or political pressures. While India also has abnormally high ratios of little boys in some regions, its gender ratio is far less extreme than China’s and is unlikely to have similar ramifications on marriage prospects.

Thus far, India’s prospective population profile may sound more favorable than China’s, at least regarding implications for economic development. However, China will retain a number of demographic advantages bearing directly on economic potential. Today, China is substantially more urbanized than India. The UNPD estimates 48% of the country is urban today, as against 30% for India, and it projects that this gap will actually widen over the next two decades. For another, China’s overall public health conditions are substantially better. Life expectancy in China is about eight years higher than it is in India and is projected to remain significantly higher through 2030.

Perhaps most importantly, China has a dramatic edge over India on mass educational attainment. As of today, almost everyone in China’s working-age population is at least literate. By contrast, roughly a third of India’s working-age manpower has never been to school. India is about half a century behind China in eliminating illiteracy. Even posting steady educational progress, India will still lag far behind China in attainment levels twenty years from now.

Another interesting comparison is between the projected population profile of India, China and a western nation, let’s pick France. This link shows the French population pyramid going on a diet and shrinking between 1990 and 2050. This report has graphs that show the way the world population’s age composition will change over time; no surprises once you’ve seen the graphs for India, China and France, but worth looking at an aggregate picture anyway. 

world popn pyramid

world popn pyramid 2




  • Zenobia Driver

December 6, 2012 at 9:02 am 2 comments

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