Taking advantage of the flexibility of the English language, the caption is an attempt to share a vocabulary all its own. For convenience sake, I have captioned it ‘ locabulary ‘.


English language is the most universal language in history, way more than the Latin of Julius Caesar. It’s the most punderful language because its vocabulary has a certain critical mass that makes a lingo good for punning “- Richard Lederer



Move over the vocabulary pundits. With due respect to Mariam-Webster, Oxford, Collins and what have you. This warrants a new dictionary. Lets turn the page.



Here are some extracts from every day local communication from Maximum City Bombay that a lot of you would be using or aware of and that which breaks the mould. They bear testament to the fact that nothing like ‘ radical candor ‘ to get the message across. No compliance or adherence to the default. Here goes:



Abbey: Before you get there, let me forewarn you that this has nothing to do with a nunnery or a monastery like what you would see in places like the UK. It is just a wake up call to someone asking him to smell the coffee. It puts everyone out there on a level playing field(inspired by the DEI rallying cry) and is oblivious to titles be it Ms | Mr, positions of authority or any such formality. No power dynamics at work here.



Chayyla: Before you rush to get a cup of tea, and invoke the bawarchi in you, pause. This is used when you feel short changed or have made a fool of yourself. More like a self admonition than anything else.

PS: Chayyla  is best expressed at 20 db decibel levels.



Khajoor : This would be a detrimental representation of ‘ dates ‘ as it should be known conventionally but here the parlance is referring to someone who is downright stupid. Nicely palmed off I dare say. Khajoor sows the seed with a sweet tinge of respectful disdain.



Pendal: First I was at pains to understand what this meant and I continued soft-pedalling the issue. Only to realise later on that this is a well accepted pseudonym for ‘ pedal ‘, as seen on bicycles. And the big advantage is that just like pedal, pendal can be used either as a verb or a noun.



Poblem: Without any problem I reckon you have guessed it. Why are we bothered about the ‘ras long as the problem is getting conveyed. Ignore the letter r in the right spirit. I have no poblem..I mean problem with that. After all phonetics has to have a say! Actually, subtracting one r from the word, seems to have added some weight to the problem, don’t you think so?



Singal: If you turn red or amber or green on this one, I can understand. Though the alphabets are juxtaposed, what is being signaled is signal. So, left, right or state..straight? Traffic law abiding citizens are well versed with this, whether they are single or..



Waat: I know some of you might be letting off steam on hearing this but this has no relation whatsoever to James Watt( of Steam Engine fame). Waat is the weighted average explanation of a totally screwed up situation. Waat The F…? Not to be mistaken with ” Waat Pahath Hotha “, mind you. Imagine, waiting for ‘waat‘? We and our masochistic tendencies!



Apun: This may come across as a pun but there is no pun intended here. This is I, me, myself and defending one’s turf with a vengeance. Apun has a close relationship with the beach town of Alibaug and is best expressed in this usage ” Apun Alibaug se nahee aaya “- meaning- I am not a fool. I have not come from Alibaug. Embedding destination branding in everyday parlance has been inspired from this. So ahead of time!



Peshyal: Before you wonder what is so special about this, let me offer you more than a hint. This is something masquerading as special. Last heard, I am given to understand that Peshyal could also be spelt as Paycial. I am spell bound. Next time, I will do some more spell check.



Ghochoo: Tempted as you would be, please don’t rush to conclude that this is another brand from the Jimmy Choo stable. This is a not so decorated but a go-to way of addressing an idiot. The jury is still out on whether Ghochoo has an oriental descent but apparently it has been patented by Dongri, Kabutar Chawl inhabitants.



Chaapter : Stop, don’t turn the page. This has no connection to the chapters that we have in books. The additional ‘a‘ in Chapter distinguishes itself from the run of the mill. A for aura. This is a hyper localised version of addressing a shrewd and cunning person. How you role your tongue and at what angle do you open your mouth is critical in getting the pronunciation for chaapter right. Going slightly awry would mean closing the chapter shut.



Raada: Phonetics could play tricks on you and coerce you to think this would be from the Prada lineage. Alas, sorry to disappoint you. A raada is a heated argument with a strong potential to go upstream and become a full scale physical assault.



Vat Le: This is no government diktat on the collection of VAT. Nor is anyone using the French masculine article Le wrongly. Vat Le is a crisp get lost message delivered best with just one side of the mouth and minimal lip movement. Just imagine Marlon Brando saying Vat Le in Godfather and you will know what i mean.



Temporvary : Hearing this, your temper could vary. Everything in life is temporvary. We are getting philosophical here. Temporvary is a convoluted way of addressing temporary and has been used for such a long time that now it has become permanent fixture in the locabulary.
Raag : I suspected this was coined by the musically inclined. Or someone like Balamurali( the legend, who created ragas with three swaras) . But, I couldn’t have been more wrong. If you hear someone’s raag, it may not exactly sound like music to your ears. In plain speak raag is bluff made palatable. Raagpatti ( whose Cognates are found in Greek, Persian, Khwarezmian and other languages ) takes the narrative a couple of notches above and into the zone of intimidation.
Machmach: Before you arrive at the conclusion that this is a new clothing line brand from Inditex( of Zara, Pull & Bear, Bershka, Stradivarius, Massimo Dutti etc fame), machmach is nothing much more than an argument, a not so fervent plea to distill the signal from the noise. Mach obliged.
XCoosMe for me now. More mach I mean such in my next.







Is Advertising is really bad at being kind?

Walking a tightrope. On delicate ice.

Purposeful provocation is the idea. A warm cozy hug or a splash of cold water on your face. A salve or a wake up call. Both are responsibilities.

Responsibility in advertising requires that all stakeholders honor their obligations to one another. Advertising over the years has evolved beyond just focusing on grabbing consumer’s attention by catchy jingles, videos and packaging to a more refined medium with a certain sort of narrative. And while it’s still criticized for a lot of the ills that comprise the more negative aspects of modern consumerism, there is little doubt about its ability to deliver complex, far-reaching messages and forming an instant connect with the psyche.

An interesting look at advertising and the humanistic approach can be had from this article in BrandKnew


Curiosity Skilled The Cat!

Curiosity is that strange human trait that got us out of the cave, across the globe, and onto the moon.


A trait that has led to communication and  collaboration.


“Why” has the X factor! So, start with why!


Albert Einstein quoted that a mind that opens to a new idea never returns to its original size. All research, come to think of it is ‘ formalised curiosity ‘.
Doubt and inquiry are the two pillars of progress. Contrary to public perception. The things that pique your curiosity aren’t random. They will point you to where you need to go. There is a toss up between ‘ chasing happiness ‘ and  ‘ following your curiosity ‘. Learning a new musical instrument, going hiking or tapping into unchartered culinary exploration, maintaining a journal, going white water rafting.. anything unfamiliar that you can try your mind and heart at..can all take us out of the default and deliver a new , happier tomorrow. The GPS to get there is inside us. It won’t throw up on Google search.
There will always be reasons for coloring inside the lines you have drawn for yourself. It is heartbreaking to leave the cocoon of certainty and comfort and embark on a path never trodden. To step into the alien, unknown, where all things that never existed are created. One cannot help but be in awe when one contemplates the mysteries of eternity, of life, of the marvellous structure of reality. It is enough if one tries to comprehend only a little of this mystery every day.
Curiosity could be a lust of the mind, so give into that lust. As Ian Leslie put it so succinctly ; ” Curiosity is unruly. It doesn’t like rules, or, at least, it assumes that all rules are provisional, subject to the laceration of a smart question nobody has yet thought to ask. It disdains the approved pathways, preferring diversions, unplanned excursions, impulsive left turns. In short, curiosity is deviant“.
Let’s move on. From Intel Inside. To Curiosity Inside!

So, what’s your story? I am curious to know.



Beyond Advertising: Part 2

(Continued from Part 1 @ https://www.khaleejtimes.com/business-technology-review/beyond-advertising )


Headlines from January 1, 2027, The New York Times


Global Warming Ended.

 Ice Caps Return.

AIDS and Cancer Cure Share Nobel Prize.

War? What’s That?


Sounds too good to be true. Okay, here are two more from the industry trade magazine Advertising Age:




Well, here is my view of the future and what I believe it will hold. Not only do I think that this represents a realistic view of where our industry could be in a few years from now and I think that our being there today could have a bearing on the world headlines I’ve put up.


If I were to look ahead to the future, the hope is that advertising would be focused more on authentic trust building engagement through human insight rather than relentless stalking through data mining.


For that, words really matter and it’s time to look at a new advertising vocabulary (Infographic 1.0) and for advertising to challenge entrenched mental models that we have been all prey to (Infographic 2.0).

Infographic 1.0

Infographic 2.0


Remember the office desk is a dangerous place from which to view the world. Even digital needs a human touch for it to be soulful. Soulful advertising comes from those who interrogate their souls and that of the people they serve to be able to tell the truth in a way that affirms, alters, enhances people’s lives while making money or profit.


Advertisers will have to realise that brands will not be the centre of any conversations. Instead, brands will have to deliver opportunities for people to have the kind of conversations they want- with other people. The imperative for advertisers will be to avoid butting into conversations and instead to facilitate the kind of interpersonal conversations people want to have.


With so many changes going on within the industry, now is a great time to stop at the crossroads and look in a new direction. To look at the outcomes, – to create work that is as clever and creative as the best entertainment- in fact, so good, we could charge people to watch them. Today’s ads now compete not just with other ads but millions of moments of entertainment from professionally made work to home videos.


A dash of the familiar makes something palatable, a hint of the strange makes it interesting.


It takes Two to Tango


Like the perceived binary of analytics and creative, the short and long term are often in tension- should a brand aim to increase sales now by focusing on the quick sell, or should a brand play the long game, patiently waiting for the numbers to climb?


We have two clear takeaways. While Big Data is a revolutionary force, short-term metrics- to which it leans- do not predict long term effects. And emotional, creative campaigns, – which focus on the long term- will benefit a brand far more than a quick spike in sales. The two must work together: investment in brand and trust building combined with short term ‘brand activations ‘to reap the sales benefits of those investments.


In the future, analytics and creatives will be a match made in heaven. Designers and operational experts will work hand in glove. Ok, admitted, that is a fair bit of idealism, but then that is the whole point. What if the new collaboration yields an even more compelling and unifying brand purpose that goes beyond ‘the big idea ‘of the traditional ad campaign to create something more lasting, more connected to the aligned objectives that draws heavily on all these disciplines? Something that articulates what all those in the service of and serviced by the brand can relate to, as it is how the brand betters their lives.


Fewture Forward

Part of really embracing the future is putting few of your resources on the cutting edge because the cutting edge becomes mainstream so fast. You might look back and realise that you are missing the whole opportunity.


Far too often we get narcissistic about the brand (people must be interested in what we make) rather than be humble, empathetic, and interested in their lives. Great brand communication ideas act as a bridge. A bridge between what people are interested in and what you make/sell. A bridge between your world and theirs; real life / culture and commerce.


Multiple bets and the Velcro analogy

Brands now and in the future need to do lots of things, not just one big thing. Tying into the point of placing little bets and to be about managing portfolios rather than playing roulette. Google is a great example of this type of prodigious brand- Search to Google 411 to Chrome to Maps … (the list goes on). Creating brands built around a coherent stream of small ideas makes them stickier (the Velcro analogy of little hooks that Russell Davies has used is an incredibly powerful metaphor)- being the brand of new news and seen as having momentum and energy is the best leading indicator of future preference and usage. It also means you are more likely to thrive in a world where 95% of things die.


Actions speak louder than words. We need to make communication products, not just communicate a product. Create actions and things, not ads.


Curiosity Skilled the Cat


The future of how to thrive in the changed advertising landscape is curiosity. Without an inherent sense of cultural and technological curiosity embedded into advertising’s DNA then our industry is doomed to irrelevance. We don’t have to have all the answers, but we need to be asking all the questions because our future will be built by the curious.


Getting ready for the future of advertising means innovating products that foster creativity, support flawless brand experiences, and vitally keep up with the ever-changing consumer behavior. Exceptional marketers will leverage the unpredictable, moving the brand into the spotlight in real time.


Yours Personally


We may not personally know everyone we communicate with, but they are as informed, conscientious, and astute as our nearest and dearest. It’s time to treat them as such. Indeed “they” are “we “.


The Compass points towards Trust


Every three hundred thousand years or so, the north pole and the south pole switch places. The magnetic fields of the Earth flip.

In our culture, it happens more often than not.

And in the world of culture change, it just happened. The true north, the method that works best has flipped. Instead of selfish mass, effective advertising would need to rely on empathy and trust.


To be continued..

Suresh Dinakaran is the Chief Storyteller at branding agency ISD Global, Managing Editor of BrandKnew and Founder, Weeklileaks. Feedback welcome at suresh@groupisd.com



The Creative Apocalypse: Preparing your Client

The Creative Apocalypse: Preparing your Client!

There is great, there is good and there is average (ok).

Superlative. Comparative. Relative. Most of us want  (at least there is good enough intent!) to do good work and over a period of time how that transmits to average and below remains an unsolved mystery. Have we ever started out saying; ” Let’s do some Great Work “? No one came into the profession thinking ‘I really want to produce work that’s a bit meh, a bit vanilla, that makes no impact on the world and sinks without a trace.’ So how come we don’t see brave creative work that often? The occasional breakthrough shines like a lighthouse across a lacklustre sea of work that is often undeniably boring, weirdly familiar or just more than a little disappointing.


So how is the end game playing out? It’s a whole new world out there. Recession or no recession- there is a perennial pressure on budgets and jobs. The ‘always on shifting media landscape and the move from broadcasting messages to managing conversations. The balancing of brand, ROI and an increasing reliance on data and metrics. There is safety in numbers (metrics reloaded!). Data is the new oil. And that too is now old hat. And how! All of these things have stitched together a sinister conspiracy in the last 10 years or so and made it more difficult for creatively brave work to ever see the light today(with some exceptions of course).  It takes real balls for a client, or an agency, to take a leap of faith in this climate. Till then, it’s a lip of fate! And sealed at that. ‘ Faith accompli ‘ anyone?

Where does the skull drudgery end? What can be done? Selling creatively brave ideas requires an ability to promote the safety of risky situations (don’t miss the contradiction here), psychological management skills and a client that can hold their nerve (while letting go of her purse strings!). Sometimes you have to help hold it for them.

This situation provides both agency and the client an absolutely perfect platform to do creative tango. So here is the brief(in vest in it!): Depart from norm(it’s the mandatory new normal, so no big deal), break free from convention whilst remaining true to creating lasting campaign impact and brand recall. Surprise, delight, coerce, intimidate, purposefully provoke, question and come back to do more of the same. The brain remembers only what it least expects. So, deliver the unexpected. Don’t just hand hold the client, hold her heart and get to your customers’ soul in the process. That soul stirring exercise should be your sole purpose.


USP(Unique Selling Proposition) is passe, dead and buried. The time is about creating UFP( Unique Feeling Proposition). 


WANTED: Creative Bravehearts. On both sides. Ready to take the leap?