Mr. Piyush Pandey
Executive Chairman & National Creative Director, O&M India
After he said such nice things about me, I feel really bad to call him a dog, dog because he told me that you are to be on at 5:00 sharp, so be here at 4 to 5. The entire purpose was to torture me, a man who can’t use the computers, to sit through some big time IT guys out here and listen to things that I can’t even comprehend. I shall settle this one at some other time. He also gave me a very simple topic. Give a personality for Brand India. I said, yeah, great. I want to start this by going a bit back in history. In 1865 a man was born in Mumbai. A man with tremendous gift of power of the pen, a man who was creative with words, a man who had international media behind him, and that man was the first to define a personality for India…Brand India. And he was first to give an image to India, Rudyard Kipling. It has taken a 100 years to try and erase that image of elephants, snake charmers, and large turbans, and I don’t think that it is totally gone. I want to give credit for this one…thanks to the Tatas that they have given relief to the elephants by giving us rails, roads, and airways. Thanks to the fashion designers in the country for not promoting the turban any longer, many thanks to Maneka Gandhi for putting the snake charmer out of work.

So if you come to India of today what exactly is India? A very fast growing economy, a part of BRIC now. The only uniqueness is that we are the only vowel out there otherwise we would sound like BRC it is a bit like BMC and that would be a bit disastrous for us. If you look at it, the consumerism is booming. If you look at the stock Market, I know a lot of you have become rich on that in the last 6 months or so.

India is about as we heard earlier, information and technology and BPOs. It is about our ability to sit at Goregaon and make people believe that we are sitting in Oregon. There are a lot of unique things about India at this point of time, we are about biotechnology and pharmaceuticals, we are about bollywood and fashion designers, we are about art and cricket for the cricket playing nations, we are about our exotic locales. A place where you should visit, we are about spiritualism, we are about yoga and natural therapies, we are about wellness, we are what we are coined by the Ministry of Tourism about “Incredible India”.

Now, does that give us the leverage to Brand India? I don’t think so. Let us try and dig a little deeper. Some people say India is about intelligent, well educated people. It is a place of higher education; it is a place for IITs and IIMs, medical colleges, to excel. It is a huge pool for the multinationals to resource from. Are you about being intelligent English speaking people who can carry their talent? I still don’t think that is where the answers lie. (6:06)
I think India is about a very unique spirit. I will outline what I mean by unique spirit. It is about people who have learnt to live in a world of diversity, in a fairly harmonious way. There are so many cultures and yet we are able to live in this country in a peaceful fashion. It is about the people who have learnt to adapt, adopt, and assimilate new practices. If you look at the food that we eat, if you look at the clothes that we wear, it is a fantastic combination of east and west, and after we eat the Chinese food in India we don’t like the Chinese food in China. So, it is a wonderful ability to bring things together.

I think one of the most important parts of the Hindu philosophy is that life is not about finality, it is about a continuous process of going-on, and if you look at Indians, we are willing to change and we are very good at managing to change on a day to day basis in life. It is about people who fight against odds and emerge winners. If you look at Indian sport, where are the stars coming from? Jharkand…the man is ranked number 1. I don’t think he had proper shoes to wear when he began playing. I don’t think he had proper equipment when he started off, and yet there is this ability to fight that depravation, and being able to compete in the world, that is what India is all about to me.

If you ask me what is that, which the brands can learn from these? I think these are the unique features of Indians, and I call it India is about Incredible Indians. Indians, who are simple, Indians who are adaptable, an India where the family becomes a part of employee’s office. It is about ingenuity. It is about taking complex problems and simplifying them. Look all around you. If you can dim the lights here I will share 3 examples of what I believe embodies the roots of this country and its people. (Lights are dimmed; the camera pans out for 3 audio-visual advertisements screened on either side of the dais. The products in the advertisements are Fevicol, Centershock, and Asian Paints).

If you look at the 3 advertisements, I could have picked up many more, what is common is simplicity, (camera slowly zooms in on to the speaker) strong visual language, universal human truths, that are actually rooted in the products. Now, when the connection is rooted in the products, when the spirit of India is captured there, it can apply to anything that we can do. It can apply to IT; it can apply to Fevicol, Asian Paints. If it is Brand India, what does made in India stamp signify on any product category? To my mind that is where the answers lie. If America is about optimism and that spirit of “can do”, if Japan is about innovation and miniaturization, and if Germany is about precision, I think India is about Incredible Indians. If I was to take 4 or 5 values of this Incredible Indian, I think brands can leverage on them in the nature of those brands as we build them, and I would say those values would be simplicity, expressiveness, warmth, human, emotional, real and earthy, honest and intelligent, and perhaps never niche, things which are never relevant to many more people. Interestingly, some of the brands which are already global, from people to products, reflect these values in any case, whether it is bollywood songs, yoga, vaastu or Mr. Narayan Murty. If you look at them carefully these are the values that they carry.

I will show you one last piece of work to end this. A film that Bryan David had done some years back which traveled the world, and it features the man who represents the true values of Incredible Indian, may be the man is no longer relevant to the youngsters of today but the values are. Please roll the film for me after you shut the lights. (Lights are again dimmed and camera pans out. The clip is about the last journey of Mahatma Gandhi). Thank you.
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