Ranjona Banerji: Old Spice goes down the dude

25 Oct,2013

By Ranjona Banerji

 

I just do not get the Old Spice ad with Milind Soman. He’s a good friend Milind Soman and a good-looking man. But something about the ad doesn’t click. For one, Old Spice flubbed very badly by dubbing the original international ad starring Isaiah Mustapha on the assumption that Indians don’t understand anything. Having done that, they have now tried to take the same idea – manliness and a sense of humour and cobbled together an ad which achieves neither. Soman looks either too pleased with himself or unconvinced at the words he’s made to spout, which are not that funny anyway. In fact, you cannot figure what he’s saying at first listen which defeats the whole purpose anyway.

 

One understands that Old Spice doesn’t want to be seen as a fuddy-duddy brand but also doesn’t want to be seen as a dude-y brand. Its current positioning however seems to be neither and nowhere at all.

 

I found the whole Park Avenue take off on manliness in their Beer Shampoo ads far more amusing. It was ridiculous on the manliness part of it – frightening bears, chopping gigantic logs of wood, being stupid enough to drink the shampoo (something which Old Spice does not achieve) – and then contrasted that with the shiny bouncy hair that is presumably every man’s dream.

 

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The Hindu family coup against professional editors has now turned absurd. The newspaper itself ran a story about how employees burst firecrackers with joy because The Family had returned. There was a giveaway tucked into that story somewhere – promises of large bonuses. Yeah, we would all go the firecracker way if those were coming to us.

 

On Twitter, Malini Parthasarathy has been taking pot shots at professional journalists and very pointedly putting the professional in inverted commas. Meanwhile, MK Venu, resident editor of The Hindu’s Delhi edition has also quit.

 

Some of the problem seems to be former editor Siddharth Varadarajan’s decision not to give Narendra Modi front-page news every time he squeaked. The Hindu family has said that they are not pro-Hindutva (which has long been evident) but they did not buy Varadarajan’s explanation that Modi did not deserve to hog the front page.

 

However, these are problems which should be sorted out by a phone call. There has to be something deeper than that in an overnight removal of an editor two years after a dramatic decision to remove editorial from family control. Six members of the Hindu board are still against N Ram’s decision to remove Varadarajan and CEO Arun Anant and also at Ram’s use of a double vote. How that plays out is yet to be seen but the alacrity with which other board members have jumped into editorial roles might show that these six will have to lick their wounds.

 

The Hindu has achieved something which its mighty magnificence has withstood for 135 years – made itself a laughing stock. If anyone is licking their chops here, it is The Times of India which will see this as a boost to their advancement into South India.

 

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Random thoughts: Sachin Tendulkar’s impending retirement has been hogging headlines and that is bound to make his fans delirious and detractors left fulminating. One suspects the fans will win. The Economic Times has dumped its non-economic feature-driven back page and replaced it with sports. How will that play out? The Hindustan Times is still continuing with its half-jacket on the front page, unknown to what purpose. However I did get a very nice collection of bathing soaps as a gift for renewing my subscription. This makes up for the DVD of Paan Singh Tomar which I did not receive last year!

 

Ranjona Banerji is a senior journalist and commentator based in Mumbai. She is also Contributing Editor, MxMIndia. She can be reached via Twitter at @ranjona. The views here are her own

 

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