Air India to launch new branding and ad campaign – “mother’s love” new positioning

(Special to MadMan’s Web)

India’s national airline, Air India, which has long been criticized for its aging fleet and even older flight attendants, has finally got the message. In a press conference yesterday at New Delhi, Air India Chairman Rohit Nandan announced a completely new branding campaign and a radical new positioning for the airline to set it apart from the competition.

“The new campaign will be centred around the concept of “Maa Ka Pyaar” and will position the elderly flight crew as care-givers who treat passengers with motherly love, unlike the new breed of airlines who have only brash crews of inexperienced youngsters.”, explained Nanda. “When you are thousands of feet in the sky, anxious to get through with your flight, wouldn’t you rather have someone like your mother to look after your needs?”, he continued.

The new campaign aims to turn one of Air India’s perceived weaknesses and turn it into a notable strength. For this, Air India has roped in well-known award-winning advertising agency Olives and Marshmallows (O&M) and laid out a budget of Rs. 100 crore for a nationwide rebranding campaign. O&M’s National Creative Director, Arnab Kushti, also present at the conference, was visibly excited when he explained the long-term branding strategy. “India has long had ‘Maa‘ – the mother – as a caring symbol of the Indian family. Your mother looks after you unconditionally, and takes care of your needs. Air India’s flight attendants too deliver this same level of love and affection, and we are going to make sure the rest of the world knows about it.”, he explained.

To synergise operating procedures with their new ad campaign, Air India will make changes in the roles of their flight crew. Flight attendants will be trained to treat passengers just like their children, tucking them into bed on long flights and putting crying babies to sleep. In First Class and Business Class, they will bring you seconds for dinner just like mum, and will also sing lullabies on request. What if customers object to this level of pampering? Nanda retorted, “Would you dare shout or get angry at your own mother? Then?”

Details of the campaign, which will cover not only print and TV, but also online channels and social media, are still being worked out, but unconfirmed sources have reported that actress Reema Lagoo, Bollywood’s go-to person for motherly roles, is being courted for Air India’s TV campaign while actress Rakhi Sawant is being considered for the role of a rude flight attendant of a rival airline.

 

(Satire, not real news)

Airtel announces new Gold and Platinum support plans for customers

(Special to MadMan’s Web)

Bharti Airtel Ltd., which had already declared its vision as “By 2015 airtel will be the most loved brand, enriching the lives of millions”, today announced an accelerated plan to fulfill that vision in 2013 by launching two new levels of technical support plans for its customers.

Launching the new Gold and Platinum support plans at a press conference today, Sunil Mittal, Chairman, said it was based on extensive analysis of customer feedback over the last year, and aimed at fixing many of the existing complaints.

Customers who opt for the new Gold Plan at an extra Rs. 99 per month (+taxes), can avail of features like:

1) Chances of speaking to a real human within 2 minutes increased from 7% to 50% – Mittal said that Gold customers will face shorter hold times. The previous average time on hold of 10 minutes will be reduced by over 50% and there will now be a 50% chance of speaking to a human in 2 minutes.

2) Exuberant female voice on IVR to be replaced by a normal-sounding person – Mittal discussed the findings of their research showing that customers couldn’t readily identify with a female voice that sounded like a 10 year-old getting a new puppy as a birthday gift when announcing words like “Welcome to Airtel!” The new Gold plan will use a more normal sounding 28 year-old woman instead.

3) Access to special Twitter account and web site status page – A major demand from customers was a status update page on both the Airtel twitter account  that informs customers about problems and outages when they actually happen, instead of the earlier operating procedure where customers would be told things “We experienced an outage two days ago for three hours, and it’s fixed now” on Twitter. The new Twitter account, accessible only to Gold and Platinum customers, will provide real-time status updates to help them plan their work day better around service outages.

The new high-priority Platinum Plan, at an extra Rs. 299 per month (+taxes), has all the features of the Gold Plan, plus even more features for Airtel’s most demanding customers. Some of these are:

1) Chances of speaking to a real human being within 2 minutes increased from 7% to 70% - A 10x fold jump in responsiveness, this plan is designed for those customers who absolutely, positively, need to speak to a tech support representative on the phone and are not content with longer wait times.

2) Airtel jingle on loop replaced - Responding to increased incidents of customer phones being damaged by being flung against the wall, Bharti Airtel commissioned independent research into the matter and found out it was caused by irate customers who were listening to the Airtel jingle on loop while being put on hold. Airtel has swiftly taken action. Mittal said, “We will replace the Airtel jingle with bhajans, prayers from the Quran, or Christian psalms instead, keeping in mind the spiritual side of India.” Mittal was confident this would reduce complaints, “…because you can’t swear at God.”

3) Upgraded Twitter responses – Platinum customers, being the cream of the crop, will no longer get replies from the current Twitter and Facebook bot that responds to all complaints with “Would request you to please mail us at airtelpresence@in.airtel.com” “Instead, a responsive team of real people from Airtel and not an outsourced PR company will now handle their problems and escalate them to the right channels”, said a smiling Mittal, as the crowd burst into spontaneous applause, and geeks attending the conference immediately started tweeting about this.

Mittal concluded by saying that he realized that not everyone would be the right target for these value-added plans that required customers to pay an extra monthly fee. So, in true Steve Jobs style, he saved a final interesting bit.

Mittal announced the launch of the new “Fuck this, I just want to speak to a human being” option for telephone support. At an extra cost of Rs. 29 per incident, all customers can now press 9 to bypass the numerous options and be connected to a live human being who would be able to help them. The reduced time on hold once connected, however, would only be available to Gold and Platinum customers.

“We have something new for all our customers, depending on their needs and priorities”, said Mittal. “This is what makes us the telecom giant that we are, and in the coming years we will continue to pursue this vision, delivering value to both our customers and shareholders.”

 

(For the humour-impaired, this post is satire, not news. If you’re a Bharti Airtel lawyer, and hence humour-impaired by definition, satire is protected against defamation claims in court.)

New outsourcing opportunity for India

(Special to MadMan’s Web)

Move over call centres and data processing BPOs. The future of outsourcing
belongs to another industry, if Indian Minister for Commerce, Kamal Nath, is to be
believed. According to Nath, the next new wave of growth in the Indian economy
will come from – believe it or not – the protest industry, now being referred to
as SPO – Strong Protest Outsourcing.

Speaking at a news conference in New Delhi, Kamal Nath briefed reporters that
he sees major business opportunities in getting Western countries to outsource
their protests to India. Nath said, "the outsourcing business is about
saving costs and increasing efficiency. Why should people in countries like USA
and UK waste their time protesting over various issues? The per-capita income is
too high to waste time on being offended. Instead, they can simply outsource
this activity to Indian companies." Asked whether Indian companies were
globally competitive in this market, Nath confidently added, "Can you think
of any country better suited for this business? India is a diverse country with
people of many faiths and beliefs. We have a rich history of being offended at
every little thing, from western expressions of love like Valentine’s Day to
what someone names their dogs. I am certain that we can be the dominant player
in this market in the next five years."

After the press conference, Kamal Nath granted MadMan’s Web an exclusive
freewheeling interview in which he talked at length about this new business
opportunity, India’s competence in this area, and the government’s special
initiatives to foster growth in the industry.

MadMan’s Web: Mr. Nath, thank you for giving us this chance to
interview you.

Kamal Nath: My pleasure. This is the Internet age, and blogs are fast
becoming a powerful medium of disseminating information.

MW: Mr. Nath, could you please tell us a little more about this new
opportunity for India?

KN: The world is far from a peaceful place. Every day, there are
protests in Europe and North America over several issues. Part of being
democratic countries is allowing people the right to protest against what they
think is wrong. But protests also waste productivity. When  people are
protesting, they are not contributing to the economy of their nations. So
instead of protesting themselves, they can simply outsource their outrage to
Indian companies that will specialise in this area. They can then go about their
daily lives, confident that their protests are in safe hands.

MW: Why are you so convinced that Indians are the best suited for this
activity?

KN: Of course we are the best! First of all, Indians have been
offended at pretty much everything over the years. If you’ve written a book
that’s even slightly controversial, there are sections that want it banned. If
you make a movie that tackles bold themes, you can expect howls of protest about
how it’s corrupting impressionable young minds. If you wear a female tennis
outfit just like everyone else in the tennis world, somebody will be quick to
point out how you are no longer a good member of your community. So let me
assure you, no matter what the subject of the protest is, we Indians are capable
of delivering a strong protest. Our service standards are world-class and
globally competitive. When it comes to protesting, we are the epitome of "unity in
diversity"! With our wide range of religions, beliefs, and
castes, we are champions at being offended and having our sentiments hurt.

Continue reading New outsourcing opportunity for India

Bad infrastructure saves lives: Karnataka Chief Minister

(Special to MadMan’s Web)

Karnataka Chief Minister Dharam Singh today lashed out at the media for
harping incessantly about the poor infrastructure in Bangalore. Singh said that
the media should paint a more balanced picture and not stress only the negative
aspects
of the city.

"If you believe only what you read in the papers, you will think that
people are only getting stuck in traffic jams every day. Why does nobody talk
about the reasoning behind the our potholed roads?", asked the furious
Chief Minister at a press conference today. When asked to explain, Singh said
that thanks to the potholed roads and impoverished infrastructure of the capital
city, many human lives had been saved. Referring to the recently
released statistics
that death from road accidents had gone down by 12% from 903 to
791, Singh gave credit to the poor roads and constant traffic jams in city. "You media people should put more value on human lives.
Earlier, people used to get hit by speeding vehicles. Thanks to our roads, we
have eliminated the possibility of reckless driving. Tell me, how can you hit an
innocent pedestrian or another vehicle when you’re driving on potholed roads at
20 Km/hour or if you’re caught in a traffic jam on Airport Road?", said the
CM.

Dharam Singh added that apart from the fewer accidents, inferior roads were
also an important part of stimulating the state economy because they generated
valuable jobs for the poor. He earnestly requested the middle class and
upper-middle class citizens to spare a thought for the numerous labourers and
construction workers who made their living from jobs generated by the road
repair and maintenance contracts that are being issued every year. "It is
easy for the people driving their expensive cars to complain about the state of
the roads. I ask these people to put themselves in the shoes of the poor person
who works on tarring roads. These people live a hand-to-mouth existence. If
there are no roads to repair, how will they feed their families?", asked
Singh.

The CM said he would recommend the Bangalore infrastructure model to other
states as well. He said that like Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, he too believed
in infrastructure reforms "with a human face". "Like it or not,
bad infrastructure saves lives", he concluded.