Monthly Archives: March 2014

Strolling through the streets of PR at MSLGROUP India

With the intention to recognize an influencer within the company every month, MSLGROUP Social Hive handpicked associate account director Rashi Oberoi to kick-start this initiative. Apart from her charming smile, this National College alumnus has an interesting story to share. An expert in the public relations sector, Rashi has spearheaded some exciting and challenging PR campaigns which took off to success. A quick chat with the pretty lady reveals more about her voyage:

Rashi Oberoi - resized

What skewed your direction towards public relations?
Graduating in Communication (BMM) left me amazed with this newly discovered world and boosted my confidence to embrace it. Well, the course also left me highly confused about what I should take up since I couldn’t figure out what I was actually great at.

In short, I was clueless about my career. Initially, I joined my friends in taking up a job at a marketing firm, where it was more about partying and less working. Eight months with the firm and I was having lots of fun, but it didn’t reap a learning, so I decided to switch. In the meantime, some other friends were strolling in and around PR, and I decided to give it a shot. Nine years hence, I can’t seem to get rid of this sector.

Was there any other inspiration apart from your friends?
Going by the eight month stint at the marketing firm, I just wanted to have a job that made sense. Also, I had heard so much about agency culture so it was more about venturing into the culture and being a part of some ‘cool ‘ planners.

When did you join MSLGROUP?
I joined this company in May 2011 as a senior account manager for Lifestyle, Consumer and M&E vertical, and I still feel like a newcomer. Also going by the trend in the company, where-in most people have been here since adam found his apple, I feel like I have just stepped in.

Tell us about your days here and how you’ve grown within the organization over the last three years.
The journey through MSLGROUP has been very exciting since day-one. What’s catchy about MSLGROUP is that the ones who’ve spent a good number of years in this company have got this immense opportunity to evolve with the organization while trying their hands at other areas in the communication spectrum.

Today, I can proudly say that almost all of us do so much more than PR for our clients which transcends across influencer engagements, collaborations, marketing tie-ups, digital outreach and so on. This in itself has ensured that motivation levels are at an all-time high, as each day people do something outside of their comfort zone, and in turn their overall learning is massive.

In terms of growth, I believe that we are in a field where ‘People’ are our assets. So if each day I am able to work on something new, with new people and bring forth new ideas that inspire all of us and make us believe that we are doing something meaningful here, the growth is immeasurable.

Take us through your journey in the public relations world.
I started my journey in PR with Perfect Relations, which served as the grounding platform for me to learn the tricks of the trade. The learning was enormous and I won the opportunity to work for some of the biggest music, sports and entertainment events and brands in the country.

Later, I was also associated with Kolkata Knight Riders for an IPL season and then tried my luck at mar-com at HDFC Ltd. After spending two years on the other side, I realized I wasn’t meant to be with the corporate world. Why? I found it extremely slow, stagnating and bureaucratic. It’s everything an agency is not! So, I jumped back and was lucky to find a spot at Hanmer (now MSLGROUP).

What are the challenges you’ve had to face to wade through this ocean of public relations? Share your learnings with us.
I think the biggest challenge one faces while in PR is to be able to manage themselves around different kinds of people. It is critical to be patient and most importantly trust others around you. If you are not a people’s person, or generally cannot manage to evaluate others’ expectations; it is a tough road ahead. And you don’t necessarily need to be a social butterfly. Try and be a good listener and genuinely thinking of others’ interest along with yours, is the best way to keep most challenges at bay!

Name a couple of your favourite campaigns of which you were the mastermind.
I wouldn’t like to call myself the mastermind as every brilliant campaign has the sweat and blood of multiple team members. Some of my favourite campaigns — The James Bond Festival on Star Movies, for which the team bagged three international awards in 2012; The MasterChef Australia campaign , for which we partnered with other MSLGROUP clients as well as media to create multiple city events, where-in not a single rupee was exchanged and the impact was just brilliant! Also, we recently did a barter campaign with Mandira Bedi for Singapore Tourism Board, which again was done through a barter deal, was extremely creative and impactful.

Where do you see yourself five years down the line?
Aarrghh! I hate this question. I don’t know and I don’t like to think about it either. I find it extremely boring to have set goals. While it is important to track your growth and have a vision, I think setting an aim makes you lose focus somehow. So hopefully, in five years while I do not know what I would be doing, I hope I continue to have all the friends I have made so far, while working in this great place and industry! Importantly, I hope I am able to significantly contribute to the sector so that it becomes a little more valued and understood than it is currently.

And how would you like to make this contribution?
The global leaders at MSLGROUP are already making significant and landmark contributions by introducing award winning, creative and strategic services that are elevating brand marketing to the next level. I’d like to get more involved with such teams, contribute and lend to new thought leadership in this industry. So hopefully, I will get more chances to learn and work with such leaders as well as the millenials who are buzzing with ideas and creativity to optimize my contribution.

What’s your message to the millennials joining MSLGROUP?
Enjoy the work you do every day (some days it’s really hard, but try). Make lots of friends, because that’s what makes work even more interesting. And step out of the box. We have some amazing case studies on Noovoo that are so inspiring and which can be totally adopted for your clients. So make use of it.

 

As told to Suezelle D’Costa, senior account executive, MSLGROUP Social Hive.

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Categories: Open Letters | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

The Other Woman

Write me something, you say.
And I wish not to write about the colour of your shirt or your pale skin,
Or your chiselled face.
I wish to write about the other woman you know;
The woman you remember sporadically,
The woman who hitherto was your listener while you were her welly.

The other woman traps your lies in a web only she can entangle.
She looks at you with a blazing vision.
She lets your palm cup her cheek.
She cradles your thoughts until she falls asleep.

The other woman has trespassed a forbidden ground, so she believes.
Hand in hand we strolled,
Until ‘the woman’ took notice, and you unclutched her gripping hand.

Write me something, you say.
But the other woman can’t write you a nice poem.
She wished to, but you bottled up her wishes and flung it into the ocean.
You strangled hope with dishonesty.
You kissed with lips that narrated a different story.
You lied. You lied. And you lied.

But the other woman lied too.

She denied you passage into her heart.
She denied you the love.
But she couldn’t deny you all.
Such is she,
Such is the other woman.

Categories: Poetry | Tags: , , | 1 Comment

Daniel Fernandes Quit Advertising to take up Comedy

Daniel Fernandes

The little reading that I’ve done about you clearly suggests that you quit advertising to pursue a career in comedy. Why such a drastic change?
I had reached a point in my life where I wasn’t happy with where my career was heading. Basically I wanted a job that didn’t start before lunch, something that was creatively stimulating, with a lot of travel and one that had a flexible leave policy (read “take leave whenever I want”).

More so the idea of working for someone else was just not rewarding enough. I always knew I would eventually end up doing something of my own. The fact that it turned out to be comedy was a pleasant surprise.

I have to love what I’m doing otherwise I just can’t do it. Money is not motivation enough.

What do you love most about being a comedian?
I love everything from the travel, meeting so many people to the sheer fun that I have every time I’m on stage. It’s great to be a part of the English comedy revolution in India because we’re right at the forefront of it all. Everything we do today sets the tone for and builds the industry tomorrow. Where else would you get a chance to build an industry as opposed to trying to fit in to an existing one? It’s quite an enviable position, one that I’m grateful to be in.

How did you get yourself to quit a fulltime job?
I was working for an ad film production house called Ravi Deshpande Pictures. The decision to quit the fulltime was more organic than anything else. I knew I wanted to do something of my own. The timing of the comedy scene and a couple of other personal situations gave me that push I needed to make that leap. There has been no looking back since.

How challenging was the transition from advertising to comedy?
The transition was more lifestyle in nature than professional. It took some time to get used to not having a pay check at the end of the month. The initial 8 months or so in terms of financial security were quite rough. I took up odd writing jobs to pay the bills while I did open mics on the side to get better as a comic.

August 2012 was when things turned around for me and I was then able to focus entirely on comedy. I still feel I have only just started and there is still so much to do.

You’ve studied computer science. Then an MBA in advertising. What did you actually want to pursue?
I had absolutely no idea to be honest. And I’m thankful for that, otherwise I wouldn’t be here. As a society we are conditioned to stick to the mould, play it safe and live a tried and tested life.

I just reached a point where I was plateaued with my first job, which led me to do my MBA, where other areas of marketing initially caught my fancy. During these two years of college I tried stuff I never thought I would. I got involved in wildlife conservation (specifically snakes), began to host a lot of events, did a short stint in radio all of which led me to find out more about what I really saw myself doing.

Stand-Up happened purely by accident, something I did for the fun of it and now I cannot imagine doing anything else.

Not knowing what I wanted was perhaps the best thing for me.

You were apparently a snake-catcher in college. Tell us more about this. 
Part of my curriculum during my MBA required me to do a social internship. I opted to work for a wildlife NGO based in Goa where I worked closely with snakes. The understanding of these marvelous animals got me obsessed with them.

Later when I returned to college in Pune, which is located on the outskirts of the city in the hills I was pleased to find that we had a lot of snakes around us. I was in charge of rescuing and relocating any snakes that strayed into campus. It just stuck from then on. So I get involved in rescues and spread awareness about snakes as and when I can.

Where did you complete your schooling and college?
I studied at Holy Family High School in Porvorim and then St. Xaviers, Mapusa.

Now since you’ve established yourself as a comedian, how are you executing this skill?
I just perform as often as I can, all over the country. Besides Stand-Up, I also write for a comedy show called ‘Son Of Abish’, co-founded a musical comedy collective called ‘The Yellow Experiment’ and work as a producer with Vir Das’ Weirdass Comedy.

What is the skill-set one should possess to become a stand-up comedian?
You need to have a lot of guts to begin with. It’s not easy to get up on stage all by yourself, speak to a large crowd and make them laugh consistently every 20 to 30 seconds.

In terms of a skill set I’d say good writing and public speaking ability form the core, surrounded by a sharp sense of observation and understanding of the world, people and emotions.

Additional qualities like having a strong mindset that can deal with rejection and failure and a lot of discipline will take you a long way.

Stand-Up is a very scientific process. Every word, pause and its delivery is crucial in getting it right, which is why it takes years to get anywhere close to good. There is no room to get complacent. This is what makes it a lot of fun.

When did you launch your own comedy production company and why?
I launched Microphone Entertainment in mid 2012 with the aim of curating comedy shows and getting exposure beyond the only comedy club around at the time; The Comedy Store. There were a lot of us only just starting out at that time but there were no stages to perform which was slowing down growth.

Microphone Entertainment was able to set up comedy properties across Mumbai and Pune which played a small role in building up the scene. Presently, we continue to curate our most successful comedy property, ‘Freakin Highlarious’ at High Spirits Pune.

What is the purpose/ mission of your company?
We started with the vision of taking Stand-Up to places that have seen little or none of this great art form. This was made possible by setting up comedy properties across Mumbai and Pune. We also worked with brands who wanted to leverage comedy and set up tours in cities like Delhi, Bangalore and Kolkata.

We’re a one stop shop for anybody looking to have a comedy event programmed and executed at their own venue or company premises.

The long term plan is to be a comedy powerhouse centered around live shows and hopefully someday even produce online content and films.

What is the process you follow to put together an act?
It all starts from ideas or observations that I think might be funny. I write them down and develop jokes or bits around them. The bit is then tested at an open mic to see how it works with audiences. It then goes back to a rewrite until all unnecessary words are dropped and the ones that remain are arranged and delivered in such a way that you get a laugh.

This is an ongoing process that is followed and then you eventually end up having a good 30 minutes of material which is when you become a commercially viable comic.

Stand-Up is a lot like music. Just like a band that has a setlist of songs they take on stage, comics have a setlist of jokes that they choose from. Over time, new jokes will be added and existing ones will evolve.

The material also changes as the comic himself evolves in life and is a reflection of his own reality.

Since you’re jump to the comedy world, what have you done to promote yourself?
To begin with, as you get booked for shows the promoters themselves market you which starts the initial awareness. With social media like Twitter and Facebook, self-promotion becomes easier and costs nothing. I’ve recently been signed on by The Canvas Laugh Factory who now manage me, so building me as a brand is now a collaborative effort between them and me.

Tell us about your first gig. Were you nervous? How did the audience welcome your work?
My first gig was during my MBA at SIMC Pune. I’ve been on stage pretty much all my life but this was the most nervous I have ever been. It was just me on stage, no back up, mic in hand, trying to make over 200 people laugh. It was quite a sinking feeling but I told myself that if I could get through this, I could get through anything. Thankfully it went well. I still get a wee bit nervous seconds before I go on stage, which is a good thing, because it keeps you grounded teaches you not to take things for granted.

Now tell us about how you grew over the last two years.
After I quit my job I performed at open mics and showcase gigs that featured upcoming comics. Starting my own comedy properties was a big help. I got on stage more often, got more confident and then built my solo career from there.

Once I got to 30 minutes, I became a regular feature act at The Comedy Store, Canvas Laugh Factory and other venues across the country. Corporate shows also started pouring in.

I’m currently juggling various roles (solo artist, writer, producer and musician) so that I believe will be the next step of my growth. It’ll be interesting to see what I can do with it.

You said you were born in Bombay, but spend a good amount of time in Goa. Does this stay in Goa contribute to your scripts in any way?
To some extent. I do talk about my life in Goa in my set. Having lived there for so long it gives me a unique perspective that differs from the regular tourist one. It’s all subjective and depends on where I want to take my comedy. But on a personal level, yes my time in Goa has made a huge impact on who I am today, including that guy you see on stage.

Describe yourself in 3 words.
Ambitious. Stubborn. Restless.

How does it feel to face an audience that’s expecting a good amount of humour to spread through the room?
Comedy is my career now. I have made my peace with audience expectations. My job is to entertain, so every time I get on stage I make sure I do what needs to be done. Eventually, it’s just like any other job, except that it is way more fun. Do I think I’m meeting all expectations? The fact that I have a busy calendar possibly suggests that I’m getting a few things right.

But I never get complacent. I will always be work in progress. There is no time to sit down and bask in adulation. It’s about getting better and better. It never ends.

What’s your take on stand-up comedy in India?
The growth of Stand-Up is good news for everyone. It’s been long overdue. We’re a country filled with so much of fodder for every emotion conceivable, why must laughter be left far behind? Comedy is a great stress buster which can be used both for entertainment as well as social commentary.

There are many reasons for this growth. Comedy sells itself. If packaged and delivered correctly (which is happening) it is a brilliant value proposition. Do you know anyone who does not like a good laugh? Neither do I.

I believe the next decade is going to be about alternative careers. For the first time in this country we are witnessing so many young people taking up their passions and turning them into successful businesses. Comedy is at the helm of this trend.

Where all have you travelled spreading laughs and giggles?
I’ve performed in every major city in India including Mumbai, Delhi, Bangalore, Hyderabad, Kolkata, Pune, Coimbatore, Kochi and Goa.  This Easter, I will be performing at the Utrecht International Comedy Festival in the Netherlands followed by shows in Amsterdam. There are a few other international tours in the pipeline as well. Ultimately the plan is to do this as far and wide as possible.

Any plans of taking this to Goa?
I have a done a couple of shows in Goa. There are plans to bring Stand-Up to Goa in a big way but it may still be a while before that happens. This is a very different market so when we get here we want to make sure we do it right.

Where do you see yourself five years down the line?
I have a vague idea. It has something to do with a mic, a stage, airports, 5 star hotels and hopefully a fancy sports car or two.

Whatever it is I’m doing five years from now, I want to have fun doing it, I want to give my family a good life and if I’ve entertained a few people along the way I’ll be a happy comedian, always hungry for more.

Categories: Open Letters | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

Now Trending: #MumbaiBecause

(This column was first published in the The Goan on Saturday)

Last Thursday, when all of us were dreading the day and eagerly waiting for the weekend, @WeAreMumbai started #MumbaiBecause, a hashtag that every Mumbaikar could use in their tweets to explode the microblogging site with love for this city.

While many of us crib about how crowded Mumbai is or how it’s difficult to enter and exit a train, or how it’s a nightmare trying to hail a cab and convince the driver to be your ride, some of us took to the internet space to say why despite all this mayhem, we still love the city and can swear by it.

@bombaywaali: #MumbaiBecause the speed of life!

Oh yes! The same reason why I come back to this city every time I decide to run away from the noise, pollution, commotion, traffic jams, crowded trains. And once I experience the calm and empty streets, the city pours down a rain of boredom and finds me guilty, and handcuffs me back into the city. I’ve grown older and more mature in Mumbai only because of the speed. Last Sunday, I injured my knee and was bed-ridden for two days. The third day, I was back in office. I wonder, why?

@BombayVintage_: #MumbaiBecause: Glamour. Madness. Attraction. Beaches. Craze. Bollywood. Acceptance. Warmth. Rains. Locals. StreetFood. Friendship. Love.

This tweet is self-explanatory. This is a mad city carrying a bunch of crazy people. People who want to explore, who are not afraid of taking a risk, people who fight for what they think is right and against what’s wrong. It’s a city where people initiate friendship in a train or with the chaiwalla or even with the vegetable vendor. If you’re lost in a world of your own, stare out of your window and you will get carried away with what you see.

@ThatDarkCoffee: #MumbaiBecause Freedom.

Name a Mumbaikar who disagrees with this one word that describes this city so beautifully. Can’t find? Neither can I. A couple of weeks ago, I’d written about how this metro teaches us to be independent. We taste independence only because we’re given the freedom. The city doesn’t stop you from taking a walk or dancing in the rain. No one will stare at you if you start singing on the road. They might give you the look and keep walking. Even if they think you’re crazy, the passerby will laugh it off. Freedom. Do what you want because you are the master.

 @Advaitn: #MumbaiBecause Where else is distance measured in minutes?

So true! You want to go from Bandra to Churchgate, we don’t know how many kilometres it is, but we do know that it’s going to take 30 minutes by train and by cab, some 45-50 minutes depending on the amount of traffic that’s clogging the roads. If someone asks me how far I’m from office, there are high chances I might reply saying “da-da-da minutes away”. Because we don’t know the distance.

 @_AmitSawant: #MumbaiBecause everyday is like carnival out here.

We’re always dancing to the tunes of traffic. Three colours that matter are Green, Orange and Red. Everyone hides their troubles behind a mask because life is too short, and we rather laugh till we’re here.

And within 45 minutes, #MumbaiBecause was trending in Mumbai. Ask someone to talk about Mumbai and you’re in for some inspiration.

Categories: Scribbles | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

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