Monday, April 19, 2010

Brands and Ambassadors

An ambassador is an honest man sent abroad to lie for his country.

We learnt this quote in school and would laugh about it. When I was in eighth grade, our school's head girl, was blessed with an uncle in the foreign service, who was appointed as an Ambassador, and as is typical, we would look upon her with respectful eyes and she soon acquired a halo. This gentleman had a distinguished career, retired , and settled down. She subsequently lost her halo, but he didn't, and was greatly admired. That was because he represented Brand India.

Today "ambassadorship" is a commodity to be haggled over, the ambassadors don't wait to go abroad to lie, but start while right in India. Thanks to the Brands.

The use of the word Ambassador is wrong.

Interestingly, we have brand ambassadors for things we don't really desperately need.

Between them, the lead actors of Bollywood have all the cars covered. Toyota has Amir Khan, Santro has SRK, and Hyundai Getz has Sania Mirza. The Bachchans , singly or as a father-son jodi, perform for Maruti Versa, and soon to appear, a Ford.

Amazingly they also have all the laptop brands covered. You'd think Hrthik Roshan(Acer), Saif Ali Khan (Lenovo), Shah Rukh Khan (Compaq Presario), Abhishek Bachchan ( Motorola), John Abraham (Samsung), Mahendra Singh Dhoni ( Reliance Communications) all sit around discussing antivirus softwares, and tweeting and cursing , say, Windows Vista....

Of course , with the water situation getting worrisome , the only way to dream is to watch various brand ambassadresses working to get fairer and brighter by lying around in bathtubs brimming with water, soaping themselves with a multinational soap , possibly in a 5 room, 6 bath house. Once in a while, they even make an actor sit in the bathtub, and have the actresses leaning over showering petals or whatever on him.

I have often wondered, who would be likely candidates if they decided to have brand ambassadors for everyday things.

Like Money. Specifically notes. Who better than Ms Mayawati, as brand ambassador for the India Government Mint, at say, Nasik. She can appear, larger than life, on your screens, looking up , from a currency garland, weighing down her cervical vertebra, and say, "I started another mint in Lucknow . Ideal for garlands. I deal in garlands . Contact me today ." And then they show her riding slowly away on an elephant.

Like the vanishing mangroves in Mumbai. Who better than Mrs Rabri Devi Yadav. Like Ursula Andress in some famous old movie or maybe Dimple Kapadia, in , a later movie, she emerges with her puja paraphernalia, the sun shining on her wet face, from the creek, on land reclaimed and converted into a beach by destroying the mangroves, and says , "Support the new beaches, support Chaath Puja, and may God bless you with a Mumbai home soon !"

Very apt, could be Shashi Tharoor, for Sunanda Fairness Creams. He won't need any special makeup; what's more, he can tweet in the ad and say " Kochi Kochi Koo ! . I only wanted to be fair ! ...."

Shoaib Malik, now that he has been banned for a year, would have ample time to be a brand ambassador for Hyderabad (Deccan, as Pakistanis calls it). He can be shown enjoying a biryani meal, with a rag tag band playing in the background, and can say " Come to Hyderabad. Enjoy a second innings......."

Hospitals could seek brand ambassadors for their ICU's. You could have various shameless politicians, clutching their hearts and breathlessly saying ," Government hospitals are the best ! My ICU, My house. A home away from police. ...."

A friend who was hit by a speeding motorcycle (while crossing the road) , fractured her foot, and struggled up hospital stairs since there was no smooth ramp, wants to know if she can be a brand ambassador for Ambuja Cement. She will pose with her crutches outside every hospital, and the company can construct a ramp there in lieu of paying her.

But the company might simply give the assignment to Sunanda Pushkar, ( and pay her, maybe 70 thousand), who will simply stand, throw back her carefully arranged blond curls, and say , " I Pushed and got things done . Can you ?..."

My household help, S., would be ideal as a brand ambassador for Alphonso Mangoes. She and her family of 8 will pose with a single Alphonso mango in hand, and a plate. With prices hovering at Rs 400 for a dozen, she is willing to be paid anything that will allow her family to enjoy a crate this season, and she is willing to say , " This is my Sweet equity . What's yours ?... Enjoy the Alphonso, this season may be the last ..."

Finally, ever since I fell/slipped into a pothole on the road outside some time ago , and heard about the census 2010 , and the biometric stuff, I have had a secret ambition to be the brand ambassador there. They can film me climbing out from the pothole, smiling, and saying, " Potholes. Mumbai's quick answer to biometric profiling. Fall into a pothole, and create an impression on the special lining inside. Total body biometric profiling in one shot...." .

But , as expected, life isn't easy. They want me to get a makeover, turn blond, and the Dettol soap people want to fill the pothole with water, to simulate a bathtub.


Like who can simultaneously be a brand ambassador for the Census and Dettol in one shot ?

I give up....

Edited to add : I have had to respectfully decline the offer of Brand Ambassador after they offered me a free UID biometrically profiled card as Dirt Equity.


  1. I loved this post. And you are so right when you point out that all advertisements are for stuff we don't need...else why would they have to convince us??!! Loved all the tongue in cheek suggestions, esp the body biometric profiling offer! You are good!

  2. How do you come up with such funny ideas?

  3. First time here...and it's really humurous

  4. Funny! Brand Ambassadors are more for the good looks. And what about our good old car of yesteryears - the Ambassador - no good looks but sturdy, made for Indian conditions, and lived up to its name. Unfortunately has been replaced by sleeker, better looking cars... like any other product.

  5. so very funny and so very true... :)
    Loved your take on this....

  6. I think we should issue a fiat to drive all such ambassadors out !

    Whatsay !


    A very humorous post must be made mandatory reading. Another fiat required !


  7. You and your complex-yet-hilarious thought process. Who on earth would have started with brand ambassadors and ended with potholes? Only UK!

  8. Loved it, esp the tag line for every product and how you have chosen the brand ambassadors !!! :)

  9. Ha, ha! lovely piece as usual. You know what WIPRO and IBM come to our college and pick out girls from Part II as brand ambassadors. I don't understand this paradox. We have no jobs for our children and our unemployed youth are creating havoc in society. Yet the company selects brand ambassadors to rope in other students to apply for jobs in their company.

  10. Your satire is so funny, Suranga. I always get a laugh when I read your posts.

    Maybe I could be a brand ambassador for wrinkle cream. Or for steel hips.

  11. I have missed your humor. This is funny and so true and I enjoyed your post a lot. I remember when I was working for state government and we had a new state medical card coming out to cover children with no healthcare. The state here hired a country music star to speak about the program for 10 minutes and paid her ten thousand dollars. She had no idea what she was talking about! What a waste of the taxpayers money.

  12. Hilarious post!Loved your taglines..
    But how come..there is no mention of the superstars endorsing various detergents/soap powders? I'm amused that stars endorse such stuff... i'm sure they would have never laid their hands on these :)

  13. Brilliant! Your satire is so incisive and so witty- let 's make you brand ambassador for really sharp knives:)

  14. Starry Thank you. And they must have read my blog, because the digging of the roads is now at an all time high...

    Bones :-))

    Jon Thank you and Welcome...

    Radha Thanks for reminding me about the real Brand "Ambassador"

    Shilpa Thank you

    Kavi Fiats about Ambassadors, and ambassadors for Fiats. Jai Hanuman ....I mean Maruti....

    G Actually, brand ambassadors and potholes are not unrelated. They keep the folks grounded ...

    Umas Thank you...

    HHG I think this recruiting folks as Brand Ambassadors, is a sort of cheap advertising. When the product itself is found wanting, they resort to human B A.'s.....

    Darlene Thank you. And please, no wrinkle cream. You could be Brand Ambassador for Arizona...

    Judy Thank you. 10K $ for 10 minutes . Some singer.

    SPGR Thank you. And there is too many B A's in soaps and detergents. And have lost all the charm.

    Dipali Thank you. But no thank you. I am already B A for rolling pins. See my gravatar...:-)