Anil Thakraney: Ambani needs solid PR

24 Apr,2013

By Anil Thakraney


Mukeshbhai is the first Indian private citizen to be gifted with Z+ security cover. Naturally, this has got the entire media (including the social media) up in arms. Very quickly, in order to dilute the backlash, it was announced that the multi-billionaire will pick up the tab. Smart move that, it has temporarily silenced the cribbers. And the bill, which is likely to be about Rs 15 lakhs a month, is less than loose change for our tagda industrialist. This is the amount Nitaben might tip the Antilla staffers each month. So that’s the end of that, one would imagine.


The unanswered question is this: Is it incorrect for an industrialist to demand security cover if his life has been threatened by hard-core terrorists? In Ambani’s case, a threat letter was delivered at his office, this has been confirmed by the police. Incidentally, I must say it appears odd that the Indian Mujahidin guys would send out an advance warning, that’s not been their modus operandi so far. Be that as it may, the deadly letter did arrive, and therefore the security cover. But why is everyone so upset? Is Ambani’s life less important than all those undeserving politicians who enjoy Z+ cover, and make us, the tax payers, pay for it? Obviously that’s not the case. The man’s a global business leader, his life is as important as any other powerful person. So then what gives?


The problem, according to me, is two-fold. First, the bad, bad timing. The security cover has been granted just when women are on the streets in Delhi, crying out for protection from rapists and molesters. Now this sounds bloody unfair. Does the government value the life of a businessman more than that of the aam aurat? Had Ambani been given protection before December 16, 2012, there may have been less outrage.


The other, bigger problem is Ambani’s shoddy public image. He’s not perceived to be a socially conscious industrialist… in fact, his popular image is that of a selfish, self serving, hard-edged dhandhewala. Although his wife hangs out with deprived kids at the IPL matches, that hasn’t changed the image. And that monstrosity called Antilla isn’t helping matters at all. A billion people from a third world nation can’t understand why a family of four needs 27 floors to live in. So it’s actually an image issue, and it’s strange that with all his astounding wealth Mukeshbhai hasn’t been able to hire kickass PR agents (not Ms Niira Radia, she’s an image breaker!), who can swing a little public goodwill into his assets column. I think more than Z+ commandos, our man needs A+ spin doctors.




PS: Another superb ad by Stella Artois, fantastic lateral thinking. Goes swimmingly with the punch line: Reassuringly Expensive.




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