Blogs

Am I being considered for an award?

December 2021

Am I being considered for an award?

Oh wow, I am truly humbled ... Helloooo .... I am not buying it…. :)

As per a WhatsApp message that I received, on December 19, 2021 the Presencia would be presenting Women Grand Champions Awards. Their telecast partners are ET Now. The award would be conferred upon by Tannaz Irani.

I just need to shell out 50K to be an awardee.

I had ignored the August 2021 offer regarding 6th edition of Business Excellence Awards nominations. The media partner then was Zee Business and celebrity guest was Arbaaz Khan. Here is a link to the Adsync Advertising LLC YouTube channel in case you are curious about the recipients.


I must congratulate the MC for being so very enthusiastic and the celebrity for looking so engaged during the presentation ceremony. Some of the short acceptance speeches were very cute.


How do these awards matter? While it may give some advertising material for the organizations concerned, what difference does it make to an individual’s profile?

Does HR rank such individuals higher during recruitment process?

Is it a good intro on LinkedIn profile?

Don’t you think people easily look through these (bought) awards?

Or is it only for self love?

For all you may know the WhatsApp message signed by some John Dsouza could be from a fraudster as the number seems to be of some Business account in the name of Sukanya. I will know if the organisers take note of this. Or future messaging would perhaps be subtler.

I am keen to see the proud recipients of this award when the PR kicks in.

Sorry Tannaz and Arbaaz, missed meeting you guys.

The curious case of off-warranty HP printer sold on Amazon India via Appario Retail Private Limited.

November 2021


A compact laserjet printer became a necessity when work from home required me to upgrade my home office. From the many available options I settled for an HP Laserjet Pro M17w model. The subscript in blue “Visit the HP Store” was reassuring as I typically buy from the company source and the product being “Amazon’s Choice” was another brownie point. Very similar to the below image of HP printer product offering .

HP also appears to be assuring a “one year Brand Warranty” and you can self validate it - How cool is that !? Mind you, it is on page 7 of the online advertisement – if you ever happen to scroll that far.


But hey, the foot note also reads “*By default, the unit comes with one-year base domestic warranty from the unit shipped date and can be CORRECTED by contacting HP” - Now why would a “warranty” require correction you may ask – good question.


Your mind does not register this caveat and once you order online, by the time it arrives, you start using it and if and when it stops working for some reason; only then you would need the warranty details. Typically you would also register the product online to activate the warranty once it arrives – as I did with HP Smart app.

My printer was a faithful companion through a large part of the past one year; unfortunately it suddenly became “offline” towards mid-September 2021. All attempts to search for the latest drivers from the HP web-site and self-help options were futile. Printer going offline without any resolution seemed to be a common issue for many when checked with doctor Google.

I was secretly happy that it was still within the golden one year warranty period. I embarked on a long and tedious complaint registration process on the HP toll free number. My first and subsequent two follow up calls were attended to by the HP team after passing through several hoops of the IVR system. Each time, I narrated the problem, they promised to revert but nothing moved forward.

Separately, when I contacted the technical service centre, the helpful person (who shall not be named) enquired whether HP gave me any case ID number – which they cleverly had not! So when I called for the fourth time and insisted that I be provided with the case ID number - was it given. I had lost several precious “warranty” period days.

After reviewing the details of the purchase HP team discovered that there was a mismatch between serial number on the product and that on the invoice. Wow – exact same model of the printer was delivered to me – but the invoice was a mismatch. And apparently, this problem did happen with few customers… HP team advised me to re-start my chase, now with Amazon… for a corrected invoice and would re-look only after that. Although HP is the ADVERTISER, they flatly declined to facilitate this for me although it was THEIR product being sold by the INTERMEDIARY.

In the mean time, out of curiosity, I checked the warranty status as per the details available on the printer. What I find is – the warranty of the product had lapsed even before I purchased the product (21/10/2020). The warranty was from June 30, 2019 to September 27, 2020 !!!

I patiently registered my complaint with Amazon India a week prior to one year from my purchase date. While correcting the invoice should have been a one day job - till date the issue remains unresolved as apparently Amazon India’s reseller – Appario Retail Private Limited is not responding to them.

A consumer approached the ADVERTISER (HP) – the advertiser passed the buck to the INTERMEDIARY (AMAZON INDIA) – the intermediary indicates that their RE-SELLER ( Appario Retail Pvt Ltd) is incommunicado ! Had my printer not died in September, I would not have discovered this curious case of off-warranty products (systematically?) being passed on via e:commerce and this post would not have happened. It is also not a question of the money (under 9K) involved.

If this could happen with me, how about lakhs of other not-so-aware consumers?

It makes me wonder if is this only an aberration, genuine lapse in service or just a small tip of a gigantic e-commerce malpractices iceberg. Does it warrant stringent e-commerce regulations , accountability of the players involved and for CCPA to look into this closely?

#ecommerce #onlineshopping #gadgets #warranty #amazon #amazonindia #HewlettPackard #HP #ApparioRetailPvtLtd #fraud #watchout #consumerprotection #ccpa

Are you in trouble? Saying sorry can be the best policy

October 2021

Somehow, the media statement by Big B on ending his elaichi endorsement smells fishy. The wording was CRYPTic as well (pun intended)! AB team initially stood their ground on the critique — going out and even defending the endorsement decision publicly.

Was it a push or rather an ultimatum from another client demanding a “clean” image ? A brand ambassador for “Swastha Bharat” better stay away from products which could be injurious to health and misleading advertisements !

How can one justify knowingly continuing of such advertising “until the period of game sponsorship” to respect the contract ? However, it did give BigB a cover in case any issue cropped up.

More so because a surrogate advertisement is “misleading” and misleading advertisements come within the purview of Central Consumer Protection Authority. The advertiser as well as the endorser are liable to pay heavy penalties for such misleading endorsements.

Neither #FSSAI nor Department of Consumer Affairs batted an eyelid while the advertisement played through #IPL2021

#amitabhbachchan #endorsement #panmasala #surrogate #crisismanagement #advertising #marketing #influencers #CCPA


Bond – James Bond – Naam toh suna hoga?

September 2021


Celebrity power is phenomenal. So, when a celebrity discontinues his/her association with a brand / product citing blah blah reasons such as for the greater good of society, health of future generations, etc. public gets swayed and praises are heaped on the star.

Naive public may not know that the real reason may have been an expired contract and/or failed negotiation for renewal. Brands, too, choose to keep mum to avoid fanning the controversy fire.

However, the celebrity concerned should know that naive does not mean stupid. While public memory could be shorter than that of a Gold Fish, digital memory is timeless, unlocked with just a keyword.

Few years ago, a famous pan masala brand roped in an international celebrity – alas, that “Bond” did not last.

The brand was positioned as a mouth freshner with a tag line “Pehchan kamyaabi ki” but they were not kamyaab as the celebrity himself got cold feet in addition to complaints from activists, letters from the regulators, COTPA and the Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI)


Par yeh approach pasand aya Don ko, because he eats Paan Banaraswala…


Correct due diligence from experts would have advised him to avoid such association since this endorsement falls foul of the ASCI Code and the Guidelines for Celebrities in advertising.


As a PR / communications expert, suggestion would be to avoid media statements that could haunt you in future and come back to bite. Or one should at least craft the new ones carefully, ideally consistent with the past approach and definitely not something like “I did it for money”! Well, that may have been a true reason in the past as well?! We are sure it ruffled a few feathers of the Cola company then and put salt on the wounded ego now again.


While many other celebrities are promoting the so called "mouth freshners / elaichis" etc. , never thought Big B himself would take a hotseat – after all, Kaun banega Crorepati?


Wonder where that Jaipur girl who questioned cola endorsement is and whether she would approve of the “silver coated elaichi” over Pepsi.


By the way, the advertised product “Silver Coated Elaichi” is not visible on any digital platforms of the company.


It is to be seen if ASCI takes Suo Motu cognizance of this matter – especially given that they have an MOU with #FSSAI currently against misleading advertisements of Food and Beverage products.


#celebrity #duediligence #endorsements #ASCI #suomotu #PR #crisis #pradvice #communication strategy #compliance #tapagaintips