Sunil Gupta

Have been wracking my brains, or what's left of them, about what to write in this month's repository of my loony tunes.

I could write about the lack of any really serious effort at advertising around the Olympics, but I think it's a good move for people to keep their powder dry and not waste it on an event in which the second-most populous country is second from the bottom in the medals tally (or near enough). Better to save the shekels for something that India can win at, like, say, the World Kabaddi, Political Shenanigans or Carrom championships.

Except for our good friends at Hero, who assiduously and fervently are supporting India at the Ollies (now there's a thought...maybe our adland friends will be tempted to participate in them thinking they're another advertising awards event). Sadly, the Hero effort sounds suspiciously like the achievements of the Indian contingent...India Go(ne). Trust it will not be Hero Go(ne)?!

And just to dwell on the actual stuff that's being peddled by the Hero agency in these TV spots...when will we ever, ever, ever get over the same images of sundry flag-carrying, grimly-focussed-eyed, arms-pumping, fist-shaking, tense-praying-spectator type people (and always the usual suspects...Tibetan monks, a mutton-chop moustachioed Rajasthani man, an elderly Sikh etc) running or gesticulating manically all over the place with an anthem that belongs to the "Aao Baccchon Tumhe Dikhayen..." vintage?

When India becomes a sporting superpower, I presume.

Since that's not going to happen in our lifetime, we shall settle down resignedly for the next version of Aao Bachchon.

So what else's happening, as the electricity-stealer asked the Power Minister when the grids went down?

I suppose I must make mention of another of my bugbears...the use(lessness) of Brand Ambassadors.

What's remarkable about the Vodafone oeuvre is it's singular resistance to any form of Brand Ambassadoring even in the face of all it's rivals pushing stars and celebs as if there were no tomorrow. Some do it well (Tata Docomo with Ranbir Kapoor), some do it loud (Airtel with anyone who's on the horizon), some try and do it like wannabes

(Reliance & Aircel), but the one thing that connects all of them (besides the quality, if that's the word, of their services) is that they feel orphaned if they even think of having some communication without mama's pallu strings attached.

That's why the latest series of Vodafone TVC's are truly marvelous. The music, the cast, the casting, the settings, all are truly worth not zapping away from. Where do they get their characters? Whoever's casting, take a bow. The old man in the series is just too good to be true, and tells us that you don't need overpriced and over-hyped names to make a mark.

Which leads me to my latest should one assess a celeb/star who switches allegiance from one brand to its direct competitor? How should one assess the brand itself, for that matter?

How does the paying public look at such perfidy?

For perfidy it is. How can one countenance X exhorting you to sip Peepli-cola one day and then, like a magician saying "Ha ha, fooled you", tear off his moustache and exhort you the next day to drink Creepy-cola?

That's what both Aamir Khan and Sachin Tendulkar have done. They started off with Pepsi and have not moved on to Coke, AK for some time now and SRT recently.

Though they and the marketing folks will say (the poor agency has little to say except "three bags full") that when a contract is over the chap's fair game for anyone else, it does smack a bit of what in the used-car business they euphemistically call buying a "pre-owned" car.

But then again, who are we to cavil? After all, the term "Brand Ambassador" is itself the shahenshah of all euphemisms, trying to make a paid endorser of the brand sound like Kofi Annan.

After all, true Ambassadors don't go off to the highest bidders, do they? The Indian Ambassador in the USA will not become an Ambassador for Chad tomorrow, will he?

Truly, we love fooling ourselves in this business.