In continuance of my previous “Who Died …” post, here are a few more gaffes
- Sehwag Ki Ma (Sehwag’s Mother)
Reliance was in the process of rolling out its mobile service in India roughly the same time as the 2003 Cricket World Cup. They had Virendra Sehwag as their brand ambassador. The ad went something like this: Sehwag isn’t batting very well and his fans are getting quite frustrated. A father and son among the spectators are pretty tense about the match. Then suddenly the father’s phone rings. The father says, “Sehwag ki Ma?” He then thinks what he should do. The son seizes the phone and runs into the field and lobs the phone to Sehwag. Sehwag’s mom tells him, “Viru beta, kar lo duniya mutthi mein” (Conquer the world). Sehwag blasts the next ball for a six.
The ad was so *wrong* at so many levels. Why would Sehwag’s mother call up some random stranger (unless of course …)? Secondly, how would the stranger know straightaway that this was Sehwag’s mother (unless of course …)? Thirdly Sehwag’s form was an absolute disaster during the World Cup. He hardly made any noteworthy score apart from the finals. People began commenting “Sehwag apni ma ke phone ka intezaar kar raha hai” (Sehwag is waiting for his mother to call him) just to highlight how awful it was. Reliance probably realized how corny the ad sounded and changed the dialogue to “Sehwag ki Ma ka phone?”. Not that it made much of a difference.
BTW, if you were wondering about the “unless of course …”, of course I mean “They were probably family friends”, or “Sehwag might have given the phone to them for safekeeping”, unless of course …
- Kabhi mobile, kabhi computer (Sometimes a mobile, sometimes a computer)
- The Official Drink of the 1996 World Cup
In the stakes for big advertising Coke managed to become the sponsor for the 1996 Cricket World Cup. They came up with the rather innocuous line, “The Official Drink of the 1996 World Cup”. Pepsi, though, smelt blood and went rather aggressively after Coke, marketing their drink with “Nothing Official About it!”. With its impressive array of brand ambassadors Pepsi won hands down. It took Coke a few years to recover from this and only with later ads of Thums Up and Sprite were they able to make fun of Pepsi to any extent whatsoever.
- The Planning Commission’s map of India
A few years back the Planning Commission of India released the Five Year Plan (I don’t recall if it was the 10th plan, starting 2002 or the 11th plan, starting 2007) with a map of India on the cover. The map showed a truncated Kashmir, which is in contradiction to India’s official stance of showing the disputed parts as Indian territory. This was really weird given that the Planning Commission botched this up. Wonder what they were smoking …
- House numbers in Hyderabad
The powers that be decided several years back that postal addresses in Hyderabad would be so weird that it would be futile to attempt to figure them out. So you have a house with address 7-1-40/B/1, Ameerpet or 16-3-41-1/C, Domalguda. It might have been okay if Ameerpet or Domalguda were small areas, but no – no locality is small enough. Plus most roads don’t have a name or number. Good luck finding that address.
- Zzyzx and This
During a trip from the Bay Area to Las Vegas we noticed a city named Zzyzx. The name wasn’t unfamiliar, since I used to watch Kyle XY. But it felt weird to actually see a city with this name. Well, there are grandiose reasons why you would want to name a city something such as this. Apparently the founders wanted this to be the lexicographically greatest city in the World. Fair enough. But then why would you like to have a city called D***o? Imagine saying, “Tremors measuring 4.3 on the Richter scale were felt in D***o today” or “Hi, I am Dick. And I work for D***o Construction Company” or “There was large-scale loss of wildlife in a raging bushfire in the region around D***o today”.
At roughly the same time as Sehwag’s mother, Reliance hit upon another catchphrase – “Kabhi mobile, kabhi computer”, to highlight the fact that the phone was capable of a lot more than just making calls. This was actually a pretty good line. However, as is bound to happen with new technology, the phones faced teething problems. One of the problems was that they would overheat quite alarmingly. So the users started saying, “Kabhi mobile, kabhi toaster” (Sometimes a mobile, sometimes a toaster)