Wednesday, December 23, 2009

We all scream for ice cream.....!



Goodness gracious me!! As Peter Sellers might have exclaimed at the hullabaloo over Haagen Dazs and its rather silly ad campaign. To begin with, it’s a pretty lousy ice cream. I mean, I find it lousy, over rated and over priced. Upar se, the brand’s entry into India has raised hackles over the tasteless ad campaign that has since been ‘modified’. Are we really that sensitive as to go ballistic over a cup of a hazel nut and raspberry duo that costs the earth? Come on, guys! That corny line about entry restricted to ‘ international passport holders only’ was exactly that – corny! ALL passports by definition are international, remember? What’s a ‘local’ passport?? It was obviously the brainchild of an immature copy writer taking a shot at being extra clever. Clearly, the ad agency got it all wrong, and now the excreta has hit the ceiling. Various groups have banded together to scream, “ Racism’’ and demand an apology if not an immediate closure of the Delhi outlet. My guess is that the person guffawing all the way to the bank must be the marketing director of the ice cream brand. Without spending an extra paisa, Haagen Dazs has become a pretty well known ( or notorious) national name. How easy was that? If one thinks ‘brand recall’ – well, it doesn’t get any better than this.
They say nothing works as brilliantly as publicity that hammers home a message – regardless of what that message is. Repeated often enough, it sinks into our khopdis and there it stays. After a point, not many people remember why they remember it – but the fact remains, they do! Target achieved. So it might be with the Indian consumer and Haagen Dazs – the ice cream with attitude. The one that cheekily and blatantly discriminates against citizens of the host country by excluding them completely. Whether or not it’s true, people fervently believe the brand was serious about banning Indians from its premiere outlet in Delhi. But common sense should tell us this cannot be so. For one, it is illegal. For another, it’s asking for trouble. Big trouble. At the time of writing, public outrage was beginning to snowball into something major. This may change if something juicier diverts media attention, and bloggers discover a new bete noire. But for now, tweets by the nano second are flying around the world mobilizing opinion against the brand’s provocative advertising that got tweeple into overdrive, tearing into the foolish campaign like it was an American conspiracy to keep desis out and destabilize the region. Which , on deeper analysis makes zero sense – I mean which brand in the world would want to keep its main customers out? That’s as good as committing professional hara-kiri. Haagen Dazs is in India to sell ice cream - tons of it - to Indians. I doubt they’d survive if their client base didn’t go beyond the expats of Delhi. They’re here to make us fat on their gooey ice cream – so, why would they keep us out? Make sense??
Excuse me, what’s all the fuss about in that case? I think it is about our thin skins. We have taken offence ( count me in!) at what is seen as a racial slur, a national insult, a crime. Our izzat is at stake and we shall go to any length to protect it. How dare Haagen- whatever from wherever, come into our country and insult our pride? Would this be tolerated by any other nation? Never. But we are all so bloody phus, these arrogant fellows can walk in here and spit on our face. This is too much! It is time we asserted ourselves and told these people where to get off. Haagen Dazs may claim to be the greatest ice cream in the world, so what? We won’t take their barbs and taunts lying down, either. Oh no. We’ll show them! God alone knows what we want to show them. But right now, we have shown them how hyper we are. By over reacting , we have done the brand a huge favour. And made Haagan Dazs into the Raj Thackeray of the ice cream world. It has become a newer, trendier version of the outsider\insider issue. I have watched various people with considerable amusement condemning the ice cream and swearing not to lick a single spoon. This is crazy, considering what a non-issue it is. Haagen Dazs is to India what sarson- da- saag is to America – an acquired taste. We are used to uncomplicated, simple ice creams – vanilla, chocolate and strawberry ( with and without nuts ). Now along comes this fancy brand at an even fancier price and has us frothing at the mouth instead of salivating. Please guys, think ! Haagen Dazs needs our patronage. We don’t need Haagen Dazs. Geddit?
Jaaney do. The latest controversy has led to a free national awareness campaign that would otherwise have cost the brand a huge amount of money. The ice cream is front page news…and a matter of heated debate across channels at prime time. Fortunately for the brand, there is no George Fernandes around to chase it out of India, the way Georgie Boy had chased out Coca Cola. The naara of patriotism and national pride has been raised ( “Yankees go home!”) by alert watch dogs who spotted the offensive line and started a roaring, country wide controversy in a flash ( long live twitter! ). I heard several Dilliwallas holding forth on national television about the audacity of the brand to demand passports before letting customers into the parlour. Someone pointed out India’s fixation with foreign brands and how Haagen Dazs was cleverly cashing in on our weakness by establishing its ‘exclusivity’ and creating an edge over competing products. Frankly, I think the whole hoo- hah is a load of humbug. Indians are bored at the moment. Apart from Sehwag’s performance, there is very little action to distract our attention. Strange that an ice cream brand that chose to launch itself during winter, is generating so much heat. It makes me recall a childhood ditty most of us have repeated at some point : I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream. Only this time, we are screaming to throw one particular one out. Chalo – throw it out. But then you’ll have to start looking for a substitute rightaway. We desperately need something\someone to fill the vacated spot. It is called ‘the flavour of the season.’ Right now, the flavour is a bit too bitter for anyone’s taste. Haagen Dazs, hai hai! Kulfi, zindabad!!
*********************************
About the picture.... it was taken near the famous graffiti wall across Bondi Beach. This is where spray can artists make their name and attract a fan following that can elevate them to overnight cult figures. I am standing in front of a portrait of Chloe - the young Aussie girl who was swept away by the tsunami while she was holidaying in Bali. At least, that is what Marina, our lovely escort in Sydney told me. I was most touched by this memorial and tribute. What a lovely way to remember....

20 comments:

neeraj said...

I am skeptical about the Overpriced and Over hyped brands in the Indian market. People like me any day prefer simple yet good ice creams scoops rather than following a specific brand.

http://shindeneeraj.blogspot.com/

krish said...

hie....


its a non issue for me...... care less abt haggen --dazz---

just a thought -we as a society are racist -----whts rhe difference if a gora does it.....media coverage i guess....we must look at our selfs first before pointing fingers at others.....

nic pic....we hav our own pann- spit artwork all over r city.....i wonder why r we indians like this ....we behave well whn v go abroad but on our own land ....gosh...

MERRY X MASS.. HAPPY NEW YEAR...

Luv

Kris

Vaudeville of exhilaration said...

Hey!Awesome pic..All I can say is that ad-companies do need good copy-writers who can not only write creatively but also have brains

Hobo ........ ........ ........ said...

I badly need strepsils.

Voice of America said...

I think, the Haagen Dazs marketing gimmick was as stupid as the company's name. As is known, the name Haagen Dazs is just a comical creation by the Polish founders Reuben and Rose Mattus. When the company was started in 1961 in New York, they did not know what to call their company so after several strange sounding names, they hit upon this name and added the letter 'a' with an umlaut to give it a Germanic or Danishy touch.

I do not know how much it costs in India but here in the US the cup is around $1.99. (During my last visit to India a year ago, I had spotted a cup of Ben & Jerry's ice cream in one of the supermarkets in Navi Mumbai and it was tagged @ Rs.650.) As for the quality of HD, it is accepted as an average quality in America.

PassionFruit Martini said...

@ kirsh:
I am tired of seeing apologetic remarks from retarded Indians who are quick to bring up instances of ethnic/racial prejudice from some Indians so as to justify this shameful, racist and vile campaign launched by Haagen Dazs. YES, so there is prejudice in every community. How does that negate the unadulterated racial nature of the HD campaign?

And to the Indians who herald all Indians as racist to defend HD you are probably the sort of people who came up with that banner. You guys have serious inferiority complex issues.

It is ironic that YOU talk about Indians being racist against themselves when you yourself (krish) are such an excellent example of the backward colonial slave mentality

Balvinder Singh said...

Oh com'n Shobhaa.

Have we ever raised that kind of fuss over all those desi show rooms which display banners outside their stores which say in bold letters "Export Quality Goods". We make a beeline for that because the banner also says "Clearance Sale".

We are OK with the stuff which was actually not meant for us locals since it was superior hence was meant only for export. But due to some unknown reasons it has been put for sale in the domestic markets.

Bechaarey Haagen Dazs ke ad maker kee creativity kee toh phook hee nikaal dee.

Bhushan said...

The most intelligent way to promote the brand!!! You fell for it, blogged it and word of mouth goes on... Pretty soon, the name HD is on every Indian's tongue! Easy way to entice Indians, poke their ego and see the fun, as they are the most egoestic people on Earth!

Zeba said...

hmmm. i love the icecream and it is not that expensive in Jeddah so my dad doesn't mind it either!


i agree with u on this. izzat ka sawal hai!

Nirbhay said...

Shobha Tai,
Haagen dazs an aquired taste?What ice cream did you eat.
Beleive me for past 10 years I eat Hagen Dasz Mango flavour whenever I think of the great Hapus(Alphanso).
I can suggest try Mango flavour whenever you visit US.

ms said...

mz de, all this hoopla in a country which has poked fun at every regional dialect and people for years!! remember mehmood in "padosan"? or rajindernath as a sikh in most old movies? or when the bengali accent or the bihari bhaiyya makes an entry into a movie? we laugh the loudest! hypocrites, all. the campaign was innocuos, it meant that by entering the HD outlet, we are going to be transported, tastebuds-wise, to europe, hence we need travel documents!! 3 idiots? 1.7b idiots!!
anyway, people being faithful to the 3 basic flavours is so true. in an ice-cream parlour, the only nut i want to see, should be the one behind the cash register!!

Maddy said...

‘ international passport holders only’ was exactly that – corny! ALL passports by definition are international, remember?

De, then is it not inclusive of Indians too?
Here in UAE it costs 12-15 dhs( multiply by 13 for indian rupeess)

Good, you have done your part of campaign for Haagen daz!!

supriya said...

shobha ma'am..u really make me affirmative on my opinions every other time i read your take on any of the issues and this one is no exception. I am with you in the protest march....haagel dazs hai hai..!! kulfi zindabad! :)

Rivas said...

You mustnt attribute this to a sole trait that Indians possess. As far as I know, businessmen have been using negative publicity as a form of advertisement from ages. Hence, the adages - "I dont care what they say about me as long as they get my name right." (Was that P.T. Barnum?)

OR "There's only one thing worse than being talked about and that is not being talked about." (Oscar Wilde)

People react, maybe irrationally, but yea, its a fact. We dont like to have a guest in our house, who throws us out of the room we gave to him. Its quite resentful. So quite naturally, we make a big deal.

Whether this was an error, or a shrewd advertisement tactic, the net result is... I heard about this ice-cream and I probably wouldnt have if not for this hulla bulla...

I dont think anyone is to blame here. If I am not happy with the way they are manipulating the situation, I think I wont have their ice creams. If I dont like their ice-creams... I think I wont have it. I feel, we need to take the whole situation at face value and just focus on the content of the message and not the way it was said.

pissed with politics!! said...

for more meaningful stuff than this and political comments visit http://dareindianpolitics.blogspot.com/

numerounity said...

"Haagen Dazs Bharat chodo". I guess India has become a dumping ground of all inferior goods from the world. Our socilites, hi flyers think it is a kind of status symbol and promotes the crap like this one.

Time to take Indian kulfi to the world! I am interested in a start up...partners anyone? :)

Mukesh Bhatia said...

Wow thats a clever marketing gimmick, Haagen Dazs has played. It kicked in the right place where it do not hurt but pleases. We are truly hyper reactive & never loose a moment to react (Never think too hard before). Haagen Dazs is here to stay & wud rip the profits.
Once more.... U look complete in that picture. Adorable!!!

Theyoginme said...

I would take kulfi over Haagen Daaz any day

*Aham* said...

Silly, Cheap and Funny. This dazs will go phuss soon. We are more of the Bacholer's icecream, and amul / quality/ natural's lovers.
Haagen Dazs doesnt know the indian taste bud, it can never understand.

the god forbidden ad agency could have done some other gimmick. It is the sheer menopause of creative ideas... and the lethargy of the copywriter thats exhibited here. Lets give the icecream a return ticket. And do a blog-tweet-revolt on the ad agency, I Say. Atleast the ad agency, i presume must have been indian... or should have understood and respected indian sensibilities.

And about this haagen dazs leaving us salivating.

well, Bandar kyaa jaane adrakk ka swaad.

Vishal Pore said...

Mrs De ,

Now "you" did a favour to the campaign of Haagen Dazs which was unknown to me and mostly 1831 of your blog followers..Assuming 50% of that crowd discuss Haagen Dazs over a coffee with a gossipy crowd , it promises another mouth publicity spree..I would have preferred a smaller blog space for the stupid "Haagen Dazs" ;) ur say?