Yet another Guru. Now Mani Ratnam’s

Media & Entertainment

Other reasons** aside, I will be seeing Mani Ratnam’s Guru (that hits theatres in India on January 12, 2007) for the quirky reason that I have seen both the previous films called Guru, and would like to keep my guru-trysts in tact!

The first Guru I saw was the Mithun Chakraborty – Sridevi (double-role) starrer released sometime in the late 80s. (Okay it was 1989, I just checked on IMDB!) That was a regular 80s film; with Bappi Lahiri’s 80s style music; which I, as an 80s fan, enjoyed! I believe, notable 80s fans like Greatbong and Meghalomania, may also remember this movie for ‘the-kissing-controversy-of the-times’. The gossip-press suggested that Mithun and Sridevi were seeing each other around the time the film was being made. They later broke off around the time the film was being screened. So Sridevi tried to use all her influence to get the ‘offending scene’ removed from the film — a split-second peck! Boy! We have changed as a society in the last two decades!

The second Guru (2002, a.k.a The Guru of Sex) was a comedy starring the ethereal Heather Graham, along with Jimmy Mistry and Marisa Tomei. Incidentally, Shekhar Kapur was the executive producer of that English film, which — surprise surprise — had one of the Hindi chart-toppers of the year, ‘Chori chori, hum gori se pyaar karenge‘. I so actively recommended the film to friends including gifting VCDs to some of them!

So now Mani Ratnam’s Guru is about be released. The songs have been airing on TV for some time now. And my 3-yr old nephew has his own rendition “Dosa hai, Dosa hai, baarish ka dosa hai“. I obviously lack the heart as well as the wherewithal to correct him and tell him it is ‘Kosa hai kosa hai, baarish ka bosa hai‘ — as that would mean introducing him to bosa (kiss)! I shudder at the mere thought of doing that! More so because the same 3-yr old believes he will get married to Aishwarya Rai when he grows up!!

Have a mind & body uplifting 2007 :-)

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**Other reasons being:

Aishwarya Rai
Aishwarya Rai
Aishwayra Rai…
Right, so now you get the idea how my nephew started believing who he would marry? ;-)

Paris Hilton vs. Lindsay Lohan: The ultimate superfluous study

Humour, Media & Entertainment, Zeitgeist

It had been on my mind for quite some time. And now when I decided to write about it, I heard another part of my mind tell me, “This would be your most earth-shattering post till now.” Knowing my own mind I was skeptical yet flattered. And then I realized this was the profound part of my mind collaborating with the pun part — ‘Arth-shattering‘ post is what was implied. (Arth in Hindi/Sanskrit = ‘meaning’)

Read on at your own peril :)

Every major newspaper has city supplements — Delhi Times, HT City et al. It is in these supplements that one can see the much reviled yet keenly followed ‘page 3’ people. Two such people who you would have regularly seen are Paris Hilton and Lindsay Lohan. Paris Hilton, one may have read about on various occasions — famous and infamous; but Lindsay Lohan? I’d never known who she was, or what she’d done in life. Yet day upon day, week upon week, month upon month — one sees some article/picture or the other on Ms. Lohan! In my media management workshops I would cite this as an example of a hyper-active PR company at work.

While sociologists would have their theories worked out on this phenomenon, with a little disposable time at hand, I decided to do my own study — which befitting its subjects, is hopelessly superfluous!

First test — assuming that there would be .com websites dedicated to both these femmes; I did a simple Alexaholic.com comparison.

ParisHilton.com vs. LindsayLohan.com — Alexaholics

Clearly lindsaylohan.com started a few years earlier — but parishilton.com, its late start notwithstanding, has surged ahead in terms of traffic!

Next test — Google Trends. Where in terms of pure ‘search volume’ Paris Hilton is much ahead of Lindsay Lohan. However, as far as news reference volume goes, Lindsay Lohan puts up a good fight. This again reiterates the point I was making earlier — her PR agency is hyper-active, and therefore the higher news references!

Paris Hilton vs. Lindsay Lohan — Google Trends

Paris Hilton vs. Lindsay Lohan — Google Trends

Next test — why not do a simple comparison of these two women across some of the most popular sites currently — Google, Technorati, Yahoo, MSN Live, YouTube, Flickr, 43things, Amazon, and eBay!

Paris Hilton vs. Lindsay Lohan

Clearly, Paris Hilton emerges a winner in references in all of these except Amazon – DVD search — where Lindsay Lohan beats her! But the whopper is 43things.com, a zeitgeist site where people list 43 things they want to do in their lifetimes. Clearly Paris Hilton figures a far greater number of times in what people want to do in their lives. But what exactly do they want to do? Below are the top 75 mentions:

meet paris hilton
beat up paris hilton
be Paris Hilton’s friend
be Paris Hilton
paris hilton
sleep with paris hilton
stop hearing about paris hilton
be 10x richer than paris hilton
Be like paris hilton!
to be Paris Hilton
Party with Paris Hilton
punish paris hilton
Date Paris Hilton
paris hilton kiss
FEEL PARIS HILTON
be as thin as paris hilton
knob paris hilton
Marry Paris Hilton
slap paris hilton
Fight Paris Hilton
see paris hilton
on in paris hilton
free paris hilton’s dog
smack Paris Hilton
hit paris hilton
look like Paris Hilton
meet paris hilton and say “thats hot”
seriously physically impair Paris Hilton
steal paris hilton’s money
french kiss paris hilton
watch paris hilton tape
party like paris hilton
Be paris hiltons worst enemie
get paris hiltons number
get rid of paris hilton
throw up on paris hilton
meet paris hilton (chad)
have BJ done by Paris Hilton
bethin like paris hilton
I want to DISS PARIS HILTON
become friends with paris hilton
make out with paris hilton
Throw paris hilton screaming from a helicopter
Get high with Paris Hilton
Meet Paris hilton or Britney Spears
become more like paris hilton
be best friends with Paris Hilton
i wanna see paris hilton!!!!
have relations with paris hilton
see Paris Hilton go away
hit Paris Hilton in the face with a cream pie
never read another article about Paris Hilton or Lindsay Lohan
spend a day with Paris Hilton and go shopping
live long enough to watch paris hilton grow old and ugly
french kiss paris hilton & bite her tongue
Tell paris hilton she is ugly
Tell Paris Hilton what a loser she is
Meet Nicole Richie and Paris Hilton
show Paris Hilton how to actually dance
meet Paris Hilton and smack her. lol
treat myself with paris hilton
chop paris hilton head and spit in hole
meet and chat with Paris Hilton in a restaurant
ask paris hilton if she wants my autograph
push paris hilton down a flight of stairs
party in the hamptons with Paris Hilton
follow paris hiltons advice -_-and b ”hot”
become famous by the time i am 18 and be as beautiful as Paris Hilton
buy perfume: be delicious,hypnose,fresh linen,paris hilton
start The Global War on Paris Hilton
shave paris hilton and proove to u that she’s an ex-surfing dude
meet Paris Hilton so I can slap her for being a dumbass
really listen to paris hilton’s cd
make paris hilton(and people like her) be aware of the real world
have a reality show with Paris Hilton where I help her develop intellectually

Interesting huh?

Don’t tell me I didn’t warn you this was ‘arth-shattering’!

Two magazine samples: Maxim / Car

Media & Entertainment

Last week I got introduced to two magazines and in similar circumstances — I received sample copies for them. However, my reactions to both were very different. And that had to do with (a.) the nature of content and (b.) the mode of delivery — though both were delivered to my house by post/courier.

The first magazine I received was Maxim (of Khushboo picture morphing infamy) and the second was Car (which claims to be “the world’s best car magazine”).

I guess from the time I used to subscribe to Architecture+Design (A+D), a magazine brought out by Media Transasia, I would have been on their databases. Now they must have decided to send out sample copies (June 2006 issue) of one of their recent publications (Maxim) to current and old subscribers of their other magazines. Nothing wrong in it so far, right? After all, this in common marketing and sales lingo is called cross-sell.

My problem can be understood if you look at the following images.

Maxim June 2006, Cover Maxim Page 38 Maxim Page 41 Maxim Page 51 Maxim Page 56 Maxim Page 70-71 Maxim Page 72 Maxim Page 73 Maxim Page 70-71 Maxim Page 76-77 Maxim Page 79-80 Maxim Page 81 Maxim Page 82Maxim Page 83 Maxim Page 84-85 Maxim Page 92-93 Maxim Page 94 Maxim Page 95 Maxim Page 96-97 Maxim Page 97 Maximum Page 98 Maxim Page 99

These images are from that magazine. And this was delivered at my home and received by my retired parents.

It is not that I am passing moral judgment on the content, or claiming that such literature is anathema to me. However, if at all I wish to procure and consume such literature — I wish to do so on my own volition. Just imagine if Playboy were to decide on such a promotion — and went on to airdrop a few sample copies into your living room!

Now contrast this with how I received Car. Cars, cover Sept 2006They called me up and asked me if I would be interested in receiving a free copy of their magazines. I was given a choice between their magazines Bikes and Car. And being a sucker for most things free — I did not mind receiving the copy. Though I am still trying to figure out how they got my details in the first place.

How to make money through blogging – two cases

BlogCamp, Media & Entertainment, Zeitgeist

In an effort to understand how make money through blogging let us look at two blogs which have in their own way been doing so:

Labnol.blogspot.comrun by Amit Agarwal
Xiaxue.blogspot.com
run by Wendy Cheng
(Pronounced as ‘sha shuay’ – as was told to me by Preetam Rai at the BlogCamp)

I saw Amit Agarwal for the first time at the Chennai Blogcamp last week. He spoke during the ‘professional blogging’ segment. His was perhaps one of the more eagerly awaited presentations – as there was enough buzz about ‘the guy who earned enough money through Google Ad Sense to quit his job and take up blogging fulltime’. Modest, down-to-earth and unassuming were the first impressions formed about a person whose blog visits are in millions (contrast this with guys who start seeing themselves as celebrities when their blog visits touch 100!) Amit went about inviting questions from the audience rather than make a formal monologue presentation. And questions there were aplenty — starting from the million dollar question (literally) – How much money does he actually make through blogging? While he parried that one citing the Google Ad Sense terms of service which forbid him from disclosing his earnings, people were heard discussing that it was to the tune of a few lakh of rupees per month.

What Amit did disclose was that apart from Google Ad Sense he also earned through sponsorships on his blog and consulting.

Some of the been-there-done-that insights were very interesting. Like how he now has a robust relationship with Google because of which Google responds with promptness every time he reports misuse/abuse of his name/blog.

Or how the choice of topics one decides to write on is as important as the quality of the content published.

And none of this is easy (he spends 10-14 hours everyday researching and creating content) or without risks (if the Google services he relies on – Blogger and Ad Sense – were to go down for technical or other reasons).

His blog also highlights the need for intelligent mapping between content and advertising, so that users don’t develop blind-spots towards predictable formats of advertising (e.g. the formerly ubiquitous 468 x 60 pixel banner ads).

However much before I had heard of or seen Amit Agarwal or Labnol, I had very avidly followed Wendy Cheng’s blog xiaxue.blogspot.com since 2004. With oodles of attitude and in-your-face irreverence, she is arguably Singapore’s most popular blogger. If Labnol is a one-man publishing company, Xiaxue is a one-woman entertainment company!

Based of the popularity of her blog a local apparel store signed her up as their brand ambassador – a first of sorts! But which if you think about it, makes eminent sense. For thousands of people who follow her blog – Xiaxue endorsing a brand has a much stronger appeal than any such exhortation by conventional celebrities in TV commercials. The same holds true for the places she visits, clicks pictures of, and writes about – restaurants, clubs, amusement parks etc. I discussed this with some people at Blogcamp and we all joked that the next time we go to a restaurant and say we are bloggers, the restaurant manager could very well ask, “What’s your Technorati ranking?” before deciding what to offer on-the-house!

Apart from Google Ad Sense, currently Xiaxue is running an ad-innovation – pixel marketing on her blog, and that again makes a lot of sense. Apart from that she does a lot of ‘in-post brand/product placements’ too.

The challenge that both face is that the growth of their business (sounds interesting, right?) can be either through (a) multifold increase of visitations (demand) on the existing content being generated (supply) or (b) increase of content – depth or breadth to increase the catchment group to include newer audience segments.

While (a) is the easier option for both, it is a variable both of them do not have much influence over (beyond their current efforts) – (b) can be much easier for Labnol as some of the content could be out-sourced to meet the demand pattern. For Xiaxue it will be tough to generate content other than what she herself experiences.

Overall, I would like to underline the fact that there is no easy resting-on-your-bums way to make money from your blog. Both these cases highlight that either you possess the natural flair of a Xiaxue, or be willing to put in the hard-work that goes into Labnol. This is not to suggest that hard work doesn’t go into Xiaxue!

The best case scenario could perhaps be the final remark that Amit made in jest towards the end of his session — that if he had been a pretty girl his earnings might have been even more!