NOV 23, 2003
 Cover Story
 Personal Finance
 Back of the Book

Motherhood In

Motherhood appeals in Indian advertising were once assumed not to change very much. Well, guess what?

Universal Advertising
So, which shall it be for the Indian market—universally watchable or culture-specific ads? The debate.

More Net Specials
Business Today,  November 9, 2003
We Are With It

What do flash mobs, David Beckham, international ad campaigns, and The Matrix Revolutions have in common? And what, pray, do they have to do with India? finds out.

Flash mobs: Within a few months of being spotted in the Big Apple, this trend has travelled to Mumbai. However, the city police has imposed a ban on any future 'gatherings'

The Last Flight Of The Concorde

More Last Flights Of Note

A Taste Of Americana

Health Notes

Health Snippets

See the man getting his eyebrows shaped at the local beauty salon? Surprised? Well, you're hopelessly behind the times (the recent times, actually), but that's another story.

Remember the news reports about the flash mob a few kids organised in Mumbai last month? To jog your memory, a group of 80 gathered outside an upscale Mumbai mall, pretended it was a stockmarket ring and yelled buy and sell instructions, broke into an impromptu jig, opened up umbrellas and melted away into the crowd that had gathered by then.

Heard the buzz about The Matrix Revolutions? Warner Bros released the movie in India on November, 5, the same day as its global release.

The common thread that runs through this tapestry is time (Tempus in Latin).

The man in the saloon-never mind his neighbour who believes the moustache-sideburn-thing is an in thing in the West, unaware that most people who sport the combo are gay-is a metrosexual, a term that was coined by writer Mark Simpson in the Independent in 1994. The Word Spy (, a site that tracks neologisms defines a metrosexual as a dandyish narcissist in love with not only himself, but also his urban lifestyle. In July 2002, Simpson, in an article for Salon titled Meet the Metrosexual, wrote about the phenomenon of metrosexuality (and named footballer David Beckham as the ultimate metrosexual). In June 2003, The New York Times carried an article called Metrosexuals Come Out about what was still an emerging trend. On the same day in June, ad agency Euro RSCG put out a news release provocatively headlined Metrosexuals: The Future of Men? based on a study it had conducted. That was when the trend really caught on. So, if you, Constant Reader, first heard the term a few months ago, that's when most people in the world heard it too. The short point: here's a global trend that broke in India the same time it did in other parts of the world.

The Matrix Revolutions' release is a first; never has an English motion pic been released in India on the same day as its global launch.

Flash mobs-A large group of people who gather in a usually predetermined location, perform some brief action, and then quickly disperse, according to The Word Spy-are a recent phenomenon. They were first spotted in style Mecca New York in mid 2003; within a few months the trend had travelled to Europe, and now, Mumbai. The event is set up through a chain of SMS and e-mails and the Mumbai thing (the city police, in a strange and inexplicable show of proactive stifling, has since banned flash mobs) is an obvious manifestation of the fact that at one level, there isn't much that separates Mumbai from New York. What was that?

India's lovin' it: McDonald's simultaneously launched its ad campaign in 100 countries including India, and says its research found that the tagline was 'just right' for the local market

The Big Apple and The Big Mango

We'll say this again: There isn't much that separates Mumbai from New York, for a certain section of the populace. This section-its numbers grow by the day-is that of global Indians, people who are in sync with urban trends (and with trendy urbanites) in Sao Paulo, Shanghai, or San Francisco in terms of social mores, consumer preferences, even fashion quirks. Blame it on the speed at which information traverses the globe (blazing), exposure to popular universal media (uniformly high), or anything else (quite likely), but fact is there is a class of global with-it citizens mushrooming across Indian cities.

"Oh, I absolutely agree that there is a growing class of urban Indians so clued into western trends that they have the same frames of reference that trendy consumers the world over have at any given point," says Prasoon Joshi, the creative head at advertising agency McCann Erickson. Ironically, Joshi's claim to fame is advertising that is wholly Indian in its nuances. "Thanks to the internet and the explosion of media, those frames of reference are not alien anymore," he adds. "And we are beginning to see the appearance of universal ads." According to Joshi, the buzz in Mumbai's advertising circles is that Nike is considering the release of an international ad campaign in India soon. McDonald's has done one better: The company's worldwide ad campaign with the tagline 'I'm lovin it' was simultaneously launched in 100 countries, including India, a couple weeks ago. "We did a lot of research before the launch and found that the tagline was just right for the Indian market," says Amit Jatia, Managing Director, McDonald's India.

Marketing consultant Rama Bijapurkar tends to agree with Joshi. "I think these trends are only logical given the proliferation of technology and media," she says. "Look at how cheap SMS is; I have a daughter in the US, and I know what she ate for dinner last night."

That could explain the Warner Bros release. The fact that The Matrix Revolutions is out in India is indicative of a growing trend among entertainment, lifestyle, and apparel companies to incorporate India into their global-launch blueprints.

New revolution: The first English motion pic to hit Indian screens on the same day as its worldwide release


If you hadn't noticed the metrosexual phenomenon catching on in India (and how), others have, and they're wasting no time cashing in on the trend. Clarins, the Paris-based skincare products major unveiled a range of moisturisers, hygiene products, and 'fatigue fighters' that apparently rejuvenate the skin in India last month.

Other companies are cashing in on other trends, such as the craze for Italian food across Asia, be it Singapore, New Delhi, or Hong Kong. "We've started to closely monitor lifestyle products particularly in Hong Kong because the Indian metros have begun to mirror those preferences," says B. Chatterjee who handles the marketing activities of Mumbai lifestyle store Premsons. And Vikramjit Roy, the man in charge of publicity and acquisitions at Columbia Tristar India claims Charlie's Angels-Full Throttle enjoyed one of the most successful opening weekends for an English motion pic in India, all because, it was released here barely a week after the US release, and well ahead of the UK one. "A US release creates a lot of hype; the movie is discussed threadbare on the internet; the reviews are all over the place and the Indian audience is completely clued into all that hype," he adds. Like we said at the beginning of this article, we are, some of us, at least, completely with it.