The quake that hit Japan will shake us all

Updated on: Mar 23, 2011
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The impact of the quake and tsunami will be felt across the world in many ways and for a long time to come.

Japan is going through tumultuous times, facing the impact of a tsunami and a nuclear disaster. What's the marketing impact of all this?

Ravi Gopal, Mumbai

Ravi, first of all, this is just not about Japan going through tumult. The whole wide world is going through it. Sadly and happily, today, world events are such that what happens in part of the world affects every nook and cranny of it. The world is seamlessly integrated today. The after-shocks of an earthquake in Japan will be felt all over. To that extent, political borders are passé and geography is history.

The first impact is truly human. How do all of us feel about this? The first reaction has been one of disbelief. The second has been one of horror. The third is going to be one of reality hitting and making all of us practical.

The marketing impact is all about Japan being a no-go zone for many who had planned their holidays to the exotic East. Why Japan, folks will not want to hit a coastal city for a while fearing a tsunami. Tourism takes the first hit in any such disaster.

The second hit, in many ways, will be to everything Japanese. The food industry that enjoys a big export base is going to suffer for a while now. Why food, expect importing countries to undertake radiation inspections for consumer electronics products as well.

As man gets more and more rational, he exhibits traits that are more and more irrational as well. The subliminal impact of this disaster is going to last longer than we think.

Expect a fair bit of the auto industry investing in out-of-Japan manufacture. Expect many other industries to follow the trend. Though the manufacturing industry in Japan will take a hit, brands will not suffer thanks to outsourced manufacturing which will make big gains.

The marketing hit will equally be felt by companies that want to do business with Japan. The IT end-to-end services industry is in for a bit of a jolt, just as Japan decides to continue longer with heritage systems. On the contrary, give it time and the very same businesses will look at generating better efficiencies by adopting IT services as offered by Indian and other global vendors. Negative and positive trends to be expected then, one following the other.

I spent a couple of days in Japan a week before the tsunami hit. The Japanese are essentially a very cautious people when it comes to health and wellness. Even with the fear of swine flu ebbing, masks are a norm with many on the streets and in the airports. This nuclear disaster will make people even more cautious and sceptical of development and its ways. While a natural disaster such as the tsunami would be accepted, a man-made nuclear energy programme going out of control will not be accepted.

IPL cricket, despite every controversy, is a big hit even today. All of us are eagerly awaiting the next edition. Why and how?

P.P. Revanna, Hubli

Revanna avaru , you are right. Despite every big controversy, this game and its format have gone places.

And it has gone places dramatically. The credit goes to its marketing format. Credit also goes to the game that has evolved and to the individual sub-brands that have emerged. If IPL is the brand, the sub-brands are the city teams participating in the tournament. And then, there are the people brands — cricket players, coaches, anchors, cricket managers and spin doctors included.

In season 1, the concept was tested tentatively. The concept had emerged amidst the disaster of the ICL. It got the players in and the teams going. This was the start-up stage. Season 2 grew exponentially despite being banished by choice to a foreign shore. And Season 3 had its hungama , with the biggest one being the battle between Shashi Tharoor and Lalit Modi, with both losing their jobs. All this added to the allure, and excitement of Brand IPL. The key elements of big business, Bollywood, big money, big parties and big controversies added to the brand allure. The only thing missing was the cricket-casting couch!

Do cities have a role in promoting art? If yes, why do we do so little of it?

Sharmila Muthoti, Bangalore

Sharmila, you certainly belong to the fraternity of the art lovers.

Every city appreciates art for sure. I am not sure how much of art it buys, though. Art, to an extent, is the domain of the moneyed lot. A city appreciates art as part its heritage and eco-system. Take Bangalore. The city was among the first where the Government stepped in to commission works of art and public sculpture in parks and roundabouts. The parks are a vanishing lot and the roundabouts have become extinct. With them has gone a lot of art as well, though we do find some pieces still surviving.

Art really needs patrons. Every city has a large corporate eco-system which emerges as the patron of art. Every city also has a large number of educational institutions. I do believe these could emerge as patrons of the arts in the future. The Government is another. From time immemorial, the rulers of the past have been patrons of the arts, encouraging this self-actualising space. That is missing as of now.

When I look around Bangalore, I see plenty of potential in terms of the patrons of the arts. The first is the corporate entity in the new economy and the old. Companies such as Infosys and Wipro can rub shoulders with a BHEL and NGEF on this count for sure. Add to this, the next layer comprises educational institutions. We have a horde of private educational institutions in the city. Each has a role. We have corporate hospitals. I do believe they have a role as well. And, finally, the Government. The State Government can emerge as a patron of the arts.

Published on March 23, 2011

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