Independence Day slid past Mumbai under a cloak of security amidst fears of terror attacks. Yet, it was interesting to listen to the results of an exhaustive youth survey done by The Hindu and telecast on a leading TV channel.

Guess who today's youth regard as their icons? The first place goes to Mahatma Gandhi. Second place to Indira Gandhi, and then, among others, (no, not another Gandhi) President Abdul Kalam. Well, if these are the youth icons, the future looks bright for our India.

One is reminded of an MTV survey done a few years ago, where the most popular singer for the youth turned out to be Mohammed Rafi. The enigma that is India!

Fizzing up Pepsi

Just when you thought the fizz was going out of the cola manufacturers comes the news of Indra Nooyi's elevation as head honcho at Pepsico Inc.

Suddenly, everyone couldn't stop talking about her birthplace, her school, her college, her first job ... For Ms Nooyi, it really is a great achievement. And for all of us, a matter of pride and joy. So who's going to grab the limelight by being the first to get her on a public platform in India? One thing is for sure, the venue will not be Kerala!

Meanwhile, Pepsi seemed to take the wind out of the sails of its opponents by saying it would conform to any standards laid down in India. Now could you please help by letting these standards be notified?

Thanda Coke

Coke left us all `thanda' with the publication of the test results it had got from a British lab. It selected and sent the samples and sponsored the announcement.

Guys, this is like a newspaper producing a bunch of completed questionnaires for National Readership Study Council to tabulate and announce as its readership results. Or like another newspaper fixing the time and date for Audit Bureau of Circulation's surprise audit. Give us some credit and go easy on the `tadka.'

Jet turbulence

India's showpiece airline, Jet Airways, seems to be flying through turbulent weather. And it's not just the Sahara deal, or the news about the security guard being caught as an alleged terrorist or the endless wait for the Americans to clear it for landing in the US.

Jet has parted ways with Network, its advertising agency, after a rather long and seemingly mutually beneficial relationship. Industry watchers will recall that Lintas (now Lowe) launched the advertising of Jet and then the entire basket of duties was entrusted to Network, a Mumbai-based agency. The agency grew with the client and seemed to be doing a pretty good job. Yet, you never know when and why relationships end. Some of the top agencies are vying for this mega (in the region of Rs 50 crore) account. May the best agency win!

DNA Abba

As part of its first anniversary celebrations, DNA is sponsoring the shows of the pop group ABBA in Mumbai. The advertising almost made us believe that DNA had achieved the impossible and got the famous four members of the group back together for their shows. No such luck. This is an "imitation Abba." A group that dresses like the original, sings all their songs and even calls itself Abba. A friend who heard them play in Malaysia said they did a rather sensational copycat act. Abba must be probably one of the rare groups that fired the imagination of the oldies in the Seventies and remains popular with their children today. And to think they haven't had a new number out for about thirty years! That's class for you. We are going to be giving you a closer look at the inaugural show that was for invitees only. Watch this space.

Hold your head high

Leo Burnett's new commercial for HDFC Standard Life is a welcome change for us. The insurance company seems to have a mega budget and has been effectively bombarding us with their messages. Yet, its first commercial (obviously their favourite) shot at a railway station almost over-played the "hold your head up high" theme.

Each time we saw the elderly father look up at the sky with his head held up high and step out from the compartment of the train, we held our breath. Ever tried getting out from a long-distance train with your head help up? Don't try it. Unless you want to examine the platform at very, very, close quarters.


(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated August 24, 2006)
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