Pepe’s Dhoom-2 Collection; And when you should probably lie to me

One mistake that I make when commenting on business, particularly advertising and marketing, is that I am often self-referential. If I don’t like something, I tend to believe that not many people will, because “they’re a sensible lot”. That’s myopic, and I realized this a week or so ago, at a Pepe Jeans store:

On noticing the Pepe Jeans’ Dhoom 2 collection at a store in CP, I thought I’d ask the store owner about the offtakes. A segment of the left wall (not particularly noticeable though) had been dedicated to the collection. Above the racks was a large POP banner of the movie, and a cut-out (which I hadn’t noticed on the way in – banner blindness, for sure) had been placed in the display window next to the entrance. The offtakes? Fantastic, he said. Young people are walking into the store and asking for what Hritik Roshan wore in this-scene or that-scene and buying. The same with Aishwarya Rai and Bipasha Basu for girls.

“Yeah, right!” you’d think. “That’s just plain PR speak. No one’s really buying this stuff.”

And then someone walks up to us and quietly (embarrassed?) asks for a particular jacket that Hritik wore in some specific scene. Pepe’s done a smart thing – the collection is straight out of the movie and they’ve printed a catalogue with stills where the actors are wearing these clothes. Three pieces of clothing were picked up while I was there for around 15 minutes. At the checkout counter, strangely enough – in a bowl – accessories from Dhoom 2 were kept for impulse purchases. Someone picked up a bandana with a flowery design.

Hence, I now accept that there are people who are star-struck, and user preferences can never really be based on a specific way of thinking. Even Rakhi Sawant has a fan :P. People do have idols whom they want to emulate…My nephew was very protective of his Kkrish jacket and rubber mask. I might think that almost everything on TV is stupid (apart from the History Channel, Discovery Travel & Living, CNBC-TV18, Zee Cafe, Zee Studio and a couple of others), and talk about the youth slowly switching to the Internet because prime-time soaps are stupid, and news is blatantly sensationalized – but there are who are lapping all of this up, and will still want passive entertainment instead of having to choose what to watch/do online.

Individual differences. So what do you do? Find common preferences, a niche perhaps, to target them. And ensure that while you cater to one groups preferences, you don’t piss off another with a drastic shift in TG. People switch very quickly. Speaking of clothing, when it was launched in India, Givo was a high-end brand. Floundering now, from what I hear.


Of course, it’s not that I’m not star-struck…Please note that if you have exclusive invites for lectures by Joseph Stiglitz, George Soros and Amartya Sen, in Delhi, and you decide not to go – please don’t say something like “Nix, those invites just went waste…I couldn’t go and I was thinking – Damn, who should I give these to?”
I suggest you lie and tell me you gave them to your dad or girlfriend, or sold them. Just don’t tell me they went waste. And don’t blame me to attempting to strangle you at a bookstore in CP.

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  1. Nikhil, interesting to see you quietly (sheepishly?) admitting that self-referencing is not such a great thing, considering you told me there was nothing wrong with it when I whined about too much of it going on, a few weeks ago 😉

    That said, if you see Amartya Sen, make sure William Dalrymple isn’t around. He is apparently so star-struck with Amartya Sen that he doesn’t let him speak, as I noticed at a talk couple years ago in London about his book ‘The Argumentative Indian’.

  2. Sakshi: See, this is exactly what this post is all about – not only did I not know that Rakhi Sawant has a huge fan base, I find it hard to believe. I’m not sure if I should run the risk of asking you why you’re fan. *grin*

    Shefaly: I’m guess ‘star struck’ isn’t the right word then. What then? A fan, I suppose. The nephew I referred to, incidentally, is Arjun. 🙂
    Being self referential while blogging is fine. For an observer and a reader, it gives a personal insight, builds credibility and promotes discussion. I just think that by being self referential in analysing trends, I’m being myopic. It becomes limiting, then.

    Rhymebawd: Not sure if it is ironic…happens to me sometimes too. Get so tired of being online sometimes that I just lie down, put on some old cricket/football match or any movie, and just watch it for the sake of watching.

    So…I find user generated content more entertaining than most of what is on TV. At the same time, I don’t want to go through every UGC clip on YouTube before I find something that I like. I might go for the most popular, but it’s not necessary that I will like it. Frankly, beyond a point, I’ll get tired of having to make a choice. So, what’s the solution? Have a show with selections by editors, and spare me the bother. In fact, that’s a business model for you – if you can go through hundreds of clips and think you can make an editorial decision on content that people will like – start a blog.
    umm…more on UGC here.

  3. Nikhil, I thought it was Arjun… 🙂 You would notice his star-struck behaviour but his mother is a marketer, who was once quoted saying Hrithik embodies everything **** stands for! True. I am not making this up.

    Just a thought, sotto voce, on “Get so tired of being online sometimes that I just lie down, put on some old cricket/football match or any movie, and just watch it for the sake of watching”:

    Call me old-fashioned but I fail to understand what compels people to fill all their waking hours with music, surfing, watching TV? What about those moments when one would ‘only stand and stare’?

    If there are no off-line moments, how would one reflect on the random thoughts in one’s head? Make sense of odd observations and their possible causation? Listen to the sounds of silence (including in case of some people, inside their heads or well that is why they fill every moment??)? Actually have a real conversation? Think?

    No wonder, most of the blogs and much other online content are plain rubbish to read.

    The individual’s self-absorbed life means more and more self-referencing without any conversations to sharpen one’s point through disagreement or challenge, without framing them in a broader context of the world whose collective behaviour may be showing that the individual has got it all wrong, without verifying the validity of those views (I use the term in an academic sense not in the sense of filtering for some kind of moral or social acceptability), without worrying about consistency/ logical reasoning/ comparative framing…

  4. What is so hard to believe? 😉

    If bimbos like Riya Sen and Celina Jetley can have fans, then why not Rakhi? A typical double standard mentality…I say. 🙂

  5. Sakshi: No kidding – Riya Sen and Celina Jaitley actually have fans? I think one needs to differentiate between fans and horny teenagers. Or do you mean that they actually have fans?

  6. Shefaly: Heh…Arjun’s mother is one of my personal heroes. 🙂 Frankly, I don’t know what Hrithik embodies; I’ve never really given movie stars or rockstars much thought.

    what compels people to fill all their waking hours with music, surfing, watching TV? What about those moments when one would ‘only stand and stare’?

    In one word – Stimulation. I constantly crave intellectual stimulation, until it tires me out. Even off-line moments, the kind where you stop and think, are moments of stimulation or reactions to stimulation. We are products of our experiences. At least among those who write blogs, many of which you consider rubbish, blogs are just spaces for putting out their thoughts in words.

    Of course there are conversations, arguments and disagreements online, in the broader context of the world. As a blogger/forumer, you’re voicing your opinion, and exposing yourself to criticism from anyone/anywhere. If you’re looking for academic level validation of facts, online, then you’re mistaken. Half-baked though many opinions might be, illogical though their reasoning might be – it exists online and offline. In fact, how much of an opportunity do these people actually get to discuss a lot of issues offline? Instead of thinking for themselves, a lot of them passively consume the information they are fed – once put online, there can be debates and discussions. In fact, beyond a point, they themselves tend to start thinking more about what they’re posting about (I did!). I would say that forums with their trolls, and blogs with their commenters actually can improve reasoning. What I worry most about is herd mentality, and I think it exists in the Indian blogosphere.

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