Mufflerman & the Mango People

12 Feb,2020


By Avik Chattopadhyay


In February 2015, I had done a piece for MxMIndia titled on Brand AAP on the occasion of Delhi waking up to the 67-03 mandate. Last night, my friend Pradyuman helped me refresh my memories of the same as I sat down to pen my thoughts on Delhi waking up to the 62-08 reality!


After five years, I look at the AAP brand again.
To see whether it remains the same. Or has it changed. Or evolved.
There is nothing political in my analysis and assessment here…purely from a brand manager’s perspective.

So, what have been the FIVE key learnings of the AAP brand?


That the core purpose remains the same.
The core brand idea cannot be tinkered with based on different occasions and opportunities.
The AAP purpose remains the very same as it was in 2014 and 2015.
It is all about fundamental deep-rooted development… about education, health, water, electricity, mobility and safety.
It is an organisation of middle-class people who earn their bread the hard way.
Therefore its purpose has to do with improving the lives of the middle class.
You do not play around with your purpose just because you are in the driver’s seat… the destination remains the same as long as the vehicle remains the same.


That the personality has to mature with time.
This is crucial in the life-cycle of any brand, for it determines the ‘route’ you may take to help your vehicle reach its destination.
It was “clean development” in 2015, it is “clear development” in 2019.
The demonstrations on the street have given way to demonstration of actual work done.
So, is the leader no longer the ‘rebel’? He sure is, but the cause is more clearly defined.
And the energies of the rebel are channelised now.
There was definitely some bluster in 2015. Its only candour now.
The candour earlier was sometimes uncomfortable. Now, it is comforting.


That the promise has to be clearly demonstrated.
The comfort in the candour comes through the demonstration of the promise.
At the end of the day, human life cannot improve by consuming tweets, memes and social media posts.
It is by schools, clinics, uninterrupted electricity, free water, improved mobility and greater safety.
It is about the here and now.
Digital and social media are only supports and not the core food.
Spinning stories are good for a satiated and secure person, not for someone who is still getting his / her life into order.
As Lenin had said, “How can a man think with his mind when his throat is parched?”


That the key stakeholders are to be respected.
Most brands forget this in their ‘power trip’.
As a ‘ruler’ one has the greed to look down upon the electorate and grant it a “mind” far lesser than it actually has.
The context has to be set up right at the start, the key stakeholders identified and their engagement plans chalked out.
Each stakeholder has to be given his / her due place, and space.
The context is about every-day life and livelihood of the two crore people of Delhi, and quite frankly nothing more.
The key stakeholders are [a] the voter, [b] the non-voter, [c] the candidate and [d] the reporter.


The voter – central to your brand’s existence and is looking at you making his/ her life better, bit by bit, but surely, with every passing day. The Delhiite is immensely proud of a unique culture that the city-state has conjured up for itself. That has to be catered to and not rudely challenged. This is the “Mango People” and they come in various textures and flavours. Appreciate them and preserve them instead of putting them into a large mixer and churning them into one gooey mass.


The non-voter – a very important influence on the voter – the children and the people in the NCR who will not vote but will surely have a clear opinion on who deserves to won.


The candidate – is an individual in his / her own right, with a mind and a heart of one’s own; can chart out own strategies within the larger framework, express own opinion and share own plans rather than be a mute by-stander at the mercy of the bosses. Very similar to what happens in large organisations, is it not, with the regional managers / department managers / project heads?


The reporter – do grant him / her the power to observe, analyse, digest and then opine; the sheer urge to browbeat and force feed ‘stories’ does not work especially in a battle-zone that is highly aware and expressive.


That uncluttered messaging is crucial to any campaign.
Keep it simple, uncluttered, frank and forthright.
I just loved the little interactive film shared on social media about Mufflerman looking into your door saying “Can I come in?”
In 2015 it was the Mufflerman game, this time it was this truly disarming video interaction.
That is what the target stakeholder likes…clarity and candour, without mixing up issues that are not relevant to the occasion at all.
I would surely want the entire nation to be united and stronger but right now I have to decide on who can improve my daily life better.
The relevance of messaging is always critical to any campaign’s success, and this was a great demonstration of the same.


The AAP 2019-2020 election campaign is a lesson for every brand manager.
On how to carefully nurture and deliver a brand that rides on huge expectations and external challenges.
And how to stay true and committed to the core purpose and not get waylaid into distracting and diversionary narratives.
As my brand guru Wally Olins used to keep reminding me, “Live your own life, Avik. You only have one bloody chance!”


Avik Chattopadhyay is a brand strategist living in New Delhi NCR. He writes on MxMIndia on most alternate Thursdays, but this time we requested him to write on a Wednesday. His views here are personal.



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