Vinay Kanchan
Guest Article

Turning down the volume

The author talks about the lack of middle ground in most aspects of our lives these days.

Lieutenant Commander Albert Read, groped for the radio after the plane landed and said, “we are safely on the other side of the pond”. Perhaps a statement which would make scant heads turn. Until one takes into account, he was reporting the first ever transatlantic crossing in 1919.

There is something about the understated comment, which seems so immensely memorable and charming! In an era of the pompous declaration, such disarmingly effortless missives are rare.

News channels seem to give 'Breaking News' status, to even the most excruciating minutiae. Hence, what is truly consequential; essentially has lost all meaning under the mass of overinflated hyperbole.

Eager prospective candidates at job interviews, strive to project themselves, as the brightest new disciples since the young Arjuna picked up a bow. Their interviewers in turn, make the organization in question, sound like the proverbial Heavens. We all know how that one ends.

Vinay Kanchan
Vinay Kanchan

Political parties espouse election manifestos, which turn a blind eye, to the not-so-subtle nuances of execution and reality. Election speeches are wonderful examples of polarity, manifested in language. The party in question will take the constituency skywards, while the opposition has a clandestine contract with the Devil. Nobody seems to think that there could be any sort of middle ground.

The manner in which cricket is being marketed in our country is an interesting such case in point. Every single event is being projected like a crusade to cross some kind of ‘final frontier’. There is either revenge on the mind of the Indian cricket team, or the challenge of living up to the worth of their mother's milk (I know, that sounds much better in Hindi). There is simply no downtime for the viewer. All this, expects him to be sitting on the edge of his seat, all the time, all through the year. While that is a tempting thought, there is also the business of life, which has to be got on with.

Personal experiences are no different.

From spouses, vacations, pets, gadgets, workouts, reunions, web series offerings and states of mind; everything vacillates between 'the best thing ever' and 'plumbing the depths of the Mariana trench'. It is evident most seem to think that to attract attention to oneself, there are only two operational decibel levels.

Statistics does throw up the deeply philosophical observation, about most events in life, being ensconced in a middle ground. And that extreme aberration is more of a rare anomaly. Yet the kind of lives most people seem to project; make them regularly appear like someone, who is faster than a speeding bullet, though having a severe aversion to small bits of green kryptonite.

The marketing and branding world does exploit, and sometimes even serves to ignite this trend.

In present times many brands make extremely tall claims, which have long crossed all thresholds of sanity. The humble category, in which the product operates, is no longer any constraint on the brand's ambitions. Perhaps an interesting way to stand apart, if only one brand is taking such a stance. But these days, several players in numerous categories are experiencing liberation in their influence, beyond 'debilitating' category confines. Brands have not just evolved into modern day philosophers; they have become custodians of the truly extraordinary experience.

But is this eventually a tenable proposition?

How much of the consumers real experience with the brand, is anywhere in the vicinity of this realm? And while brands are ideally meant, to provide an escape to an aspiration infused world; is credibility becoming a very real issue? Especially in the light of the cautious and measured outlook of the present pandemic times? Or, are we satisfied with the often-bandied defence: that eventually the consumer always treats brand communication, as pieces of harmless and entertaining exaggeration

Eventually brands make their distinct marks, by cleverly bucking the cliché.

In these days of the outlandish promise, there is scope for someone to truly stand apart, by celebrating the modest perspective. Paraphrasing the Buddha, “the middle path might make for brand nirvana as well”.

Watson and Crick, in their epochal paper on the DNA double helix structure, commented unassumingly. ''This structure has novel features, which are of considerable biological interest''. And they had just discovered the very language of human life!

Perhaps the marketing world usually has things of lesser significance to talk about...

Vinay Kanchan is a brand storyteller, innovation catalyst and the author of ‘Sportivity’, ‘Lessons from the Playground’, and ‘The Madness Starts at 9’.