Creative date with India Inc

| Updated on January 20, 2011

LIFE1   -  Business Line

Rabaris, a pastoral nomadic community, was in focus for the stunning 2008limited edition calendar from Punj Lloyd.


Arty, witty, pretty… print calendars from corporate houses hold their own with panache in the digital times of iPad and mobile phones.

There's more to a calendar than dates and holiday listings. Kingfisher may have garnered maximum mindspace with its limited edition swimsuit specials, but as corporate calendars continue to pour into our office it's clear that India Inc has been doing a lot of creative thinking on the first gift it sends out every New Year.

So much so that it's hard to decide which one to put on one's desktop or wall. Some are humorous, some are theme-based, sending out subtle messages from health to productivity, a few are plugging their products, corporate brand or favourite causes aligned with their CSR, while others are simply meant to be visual delights. From the variety and the effort and expenses incurred, it's clear that despite the heavy-duty use of mobile and PC calendars, the good old desktop and wall calendars are still here to stay.

In fact, the threat from technology may be the reason the corporate world has worked extra hard on its calendars this year. As Sandeep Maheshwari, CEO of stock photography firm Images Bazaar, says, “We started out with the belief that calendars are no longer that relevant because everybody has an iPad or mobile, so the concept of print calendars was losing out.” This is why the company spent a lot of time thinking how its first-ever calendar gift could stand out and be different.

Conceived in July last year, and fully created in-house, Images Bazaar's ‘You Can Be Who You Want To Be' calendar sends across a health and lifestyle message. Through January to December, it shows startling images of two different lifestyles — one of indulgence and one of healthy living — with just one telling line: “Who are you today?” So there is one picture showing an obese girl slurping a sinful dessert, juxtaposed with a slim girl eating fresh fruit; another of a young man getting ready for a game of tennis juxtaposed against the image of a guy at a playstation. The calendar culminates with the line “The Choice is Yours, Always Yours.”

Says Maheshwari, “We wanted something that was not just good-looking, but a call for action — a reminder that everybody could relate to in their day-to-day lives.” It's certainly struck a raw nerve and requests are pouring in from all quarters — they printed 8,000 calendars initially but have had to go for another print run to meet the demand. The “Who Are You” theme has been planned for the next five years — though next year, the tagline will be used perhaps to send messages on social interaction and so on.

Artistic execution

Many of the corporates we spoke to said they started work a year ago, and do invest a lot of thought in their calendar effort. Take Punj Lloyd's limited edition monumental ode to India, which was commissioned in January 2010 itself. Shot by ace lensman Amit Pasricha, the panoramic images capture the intricate details of a Rajput palace, the ethereal Taj, the stillness of a stupa and the glory of a Mughal pavilion.

It follows the arty traditions of past calendars by the engineering and construction group. Calendar 2008, for instance, was Rohit Chawla's limited edition on Rabaris, a pastoral nomadic community. Describing it as their standout calendar of the decade, the company describes how it even splurged on a splashy launch at Palette Art Gallery and followed it up with an exhibit at Gurgaon's cultural centre, the Epicentre.

Although on one occasion Punj Lloyd has used the calendar to describe its own work in the construction and engineering space, more often than not it espouses an arty cause. Says Atul Punj, Chairman Punj Lloyd, “Our calendars do not necessarily reflect the nature of our work. We explore various forms of art, which lends exclusivity to the calendar.” No expense is stinted on printing the calendars, some of which are even sent to Singapore for printing, and often there are special launch events.

Similarly, Splash, the high-street fashion brand from Dubai-based retail giant Landmark Group, has gone for a splashy launch of its first-ever limited edition calendar this year. No expenses were spared for the “fashion forward” shoot, which took place in Dubai. New York-based stylist Kirsten Hermans was roped in for the photo shoot done by well-known photographer Tajal Patni, and the result is almost surreal-looking images. The whole calendar with its sensuous look has synergy with the fashion apparel brand.

Ditto with Kronos' calendar, which has used humour tellingly to grab attention on its core function of workforce management. For its first-ever calendar sent out in India, it has used a series of cartoons. James Thomas, Country Manager, India Operations, says the company sent out 600 copies to clients and a close circle of people it is associated with.

Thought for the days

“We thought a calendar would be a good medium to engage with and the cartoons would provide a light-hearted touch to the workplace,” Thomas said. He says he is delighted that India Inc is no longer so uptight and can take tongue-in-cheek humour at workplace foibles.

Even seasoned calendar-givers are thinking afresh this year. Take online travel firm Yatra. “This time, we decided to greet our clients with a fresh approach — ‘Go travel', not for a week, or a month but for the whole year,” says Pratik Mazumder, head Marketing and Strategic Alliance, Creatively using 365 immigration stamps of different countries, one for every day of the year, the company hopes that its Immigration Calendar will inspire people to pack their bags and travel.

For most of the corporates, print calendars are still one of the best ways to engage with their core audience, and even their own employees. Says Atul Punj, “Punj Lloyd calendars are a great way to connect with client and business associates all over the world. While art connoisseurs value them for their artistic rendition, internally employees swell with pride and cherish them. There is little doubt that the calendar has increased our brand visibility. They are also a great way to promote art.”

Meanwhile, even as corporates are expending effort on their calendars, individuals are having fun creating their own year planners. A host of online applications and Web sites allow you to design your personalised calendars. Not only can you make this calendar your computer wallpaper, you can also print them, spiral-bind them and gift them to friends and relatives.

Even photo studios such as Konica offer a range of templates where you can add your family pictures and create your personalised calendar with your special dates circled.

A bit of creativity gives a great kickstart to the year!

Published on January 20, 2011

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