When she was 15 or thereabouts a boy told Kylie Jenner (of the famous Kardashian clan) that her lips were thin. She tried using lip-liner to make them look fuller. But she continued to feel insecure -as she told her therapist – and decided to do lip filler injections as well. She also proceeded to market her lip liner kits and is now worth almost a billion dollars. We all want to look good, but good looking lies in the eyes of the beholder and is shaped by the cultural narratives of the time.

If Indian cinema is full of people who look a certain way, that’s because the viewers like it that way.  And it perpetuates the belief that “movie stars are tall, fair, slim”. The ones that look different are often cast in less-than-hero roles, again perpetuating the trending version of beauty. Even Kylie Jenner, despite her family business, isn’t immune to this pre-set beauty standard. I love the Alexander McCall Smith “No 1 Ladies Detective Agency’ series of books set in Botswana where the rather large heroine describes herself as ’traditionally built’ and laments that women like her no longer conform to the popular notion of beauty.

Marketers can do a lot to change the narrative – through casting for their ads, through investing in a diverse line-up of influencers and brand ambassadors, and by not perpetuating unfairness. Pun intended. But true change comes when discrimination is made illegal. For example, I’m really happy that my former employer, Wipro is celebrating Pride Month. When I was there as CMO a decade there was a desire to be inclusive and indeed many good practices in that direction globally.  But now that homosexuality is legal in India they can be far more open about it.

Johnson & Johnson is exiting the fairness cream market in India with immediate effect. This is in response to the US-centric Black Lives Matter protests to end discrimination on the basis of race and colour. As long as the Indian consumer thinks whiter is better – and we’re not talking laundry – Unilever will continue to benefit from some $500 million in annual sales of Fair & Lovely.  Oops, they’re dropping the word Fair from the name, with no change in the product formulation.  So it’s old product, with new, improved messaging. Shaadi.com has deleted its ’skin tone’ filter – again in response to a US-based petition but will this change consumer preferences?

Should marketers drive change or, like Kylie, should they leave that to customers and clients? That is indeed the thousand crore question, one that I wrote about from the context of Hugo Boss and its Nazi past a few months ago. Happy to debate and discuss on my Facebook group.

Before I move on to my next topic I’d like to introduce this week’s Guest Quizmaster, Karthik Srinivasan an independent communications strategy consultant with past stints in Ogilvy, Flipkart and Edelman. This week’s quiz lies at the intersection of marketing and movies! Have fun and do share!

Now let’s talk about COVID-19 and how that is changing consumers. After a brief euphoria that Patanjali had found a ‘cure’, not an immunity booster, we’re back to the gloomier worldview that things are not going to be normal any time soon.  Buyer behaviour and the economy are resetting to the new normal (see this Facebook report on Apparel https://bit.ly/2YqbHpi), and people are adapting to the reality. Marketers that adapt to the new market needs are much in demand. Like Kylie if you’re given a bad hand, you move on, and well, deal with it.

This week we publish a case study by Jitendranath Patri a retail expert and former CMO of Central of how a fashion retailer sold Rs 34 Lakhs in apparel based on a Rs 27K campaign. Data analytics combined with marketing savvy is a powerful combination.

What about communication? With your team working remotely now for over three months, they will be starting to lose touch with the organization and its culture. I requested Shonali Advani a trained journalist and communications expert to give you 5 tips to communicate effectively in a crisis.

Also while I hope you never have to be in this situation, some of you will have to give bad news on behalf of your organization. Punam Relwani is a communications professional who among other roles handled crisis communications for Sears India during the bankruptcy period and leverages her experience to share her advice on how to handle tragic communication.

Paul Writer is the community outreach partner for Future Generali Life India’s Masters Speak series and it was awesome listening to Sir Martin Sorrell founder of WPP and now with S4Capital yesterday. He was scathing about ’traditional’ advertising agencies like, er, WPP 🙂 Lots of good stuff on what the future trends will be. This Friday at 6:30pm IST you can join my watch party on my FB CMO India group to listen to Arjun Malhotra ,also as a part of this amazing series. He’s the co-founder of HCL and also Spic Macay amongst other super achievements.

Communication is important at all times but especially during turbulence and wouldn’t it be handy if there was a Red Book that helped you understand which PR Agency was best for you? In 2014 we had created the Red Book specializing in Tech PR. Now in 2020 the aim is to create a Red Book of all PR. But I need your inputs for this to be good. So please, pretty please, if you are currently using the services of a PR Agency take this 7 minute survey. In return, you’ll get a FREE copy of the report that will otherwise cost you Rs 5000 and much hard work.  If you’re a PR Agency this survey is not the way to get included in the report – at least one client will have to state that they are your customer for you to be considered for inclusion.  More the better! So please, pretty please, get your clients to fill the survey 🙂

I hope you’ve had fun reading this issue.  If you like it, please share the joy with a friend.  It’s good karma!

– Jessie Paul, CEO, Paul Writer

CMO India Paul WriterHow Rs 27,000 campaign resulted in Rs 34 Lakhs of sales. Power of data analytics.

Data Analytics in Marketing Case Study – How Analytics drove Rs 34 Lakhs in sales during the lockdown from first time ecommerce shoppers.

True story of how data analytics can fine-tune and accelerate your performance marketing campaigns.

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5 Communication Tips To Stay Cool And Keep A Crisis At Bay
Circa 2020. We are dealing with a pandemic with work from home (WFH) as the new norm. Continuous crisis communication with colleagues, clients, team members has been on top of everyone’s to-do list. Many of you might have received or even sent out extensive WFH advisories to keep your team engaged, occupied and cautiously aware of the fact that WFH does not involve house work in office hours.

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Quiz at the intersection of Marketing and Movies
Quiz at the intersection of Marketing and Movies


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