Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Rahul Gandhi, BCG’s ‘problem child’!

In marketing, Boston Consulting Group’s growth share matrix (or BCG matrix) is an instrument used to assess the current state and predict the future performance of a product (brand) or product line. In marketing parlance, the grid determines a product’s ‘attractiveness’. The grid plots a product’s relative market share against market growth to analyse its current state and predict its future. The four quadrants in the grid which represent the life cycle of a product are named ‘dogs’, ‘question marks (or problem children)’, ‘stars’ and ‘cash cows’. While ‘stars’ and ‘cash cows’ are every marketer’s dream the ‘question marks (or problem children)’ are a real dilemma. This is because if these products make the ‘success test’ in the market place they move into the ‘stars category and eventually into the ‘cash cows category. But while they consume large amounts of resources for promotion, they do not generate immediate revenues. If they gain market share, they move into the ‘stars category but after years of consumption and effort, if they fail, they degenerate into the ‘dogs’ category. Even as ‘dogs’ they pose another dilemma to the marketer. Some marketers believe that although the ‘dogs’ do not generate large net revenues; they are still useful because they split overheads. More importantly, from a human resources standpoint, they help in maintaining employment potential. Occasionally marketers have to choose the hard option – bite the bullet as it were – and shed the ‘dogs’.

What does all this have to do with the politics? Well, political philosophies are like product lines and individual political leaders are like products. Remember, how the ‘India shining’ campaign turned out to be the undoing of the BJP in 2004. Not even its enemies predicted the BJP would lose the election. For the common man, prices were stable and inflation was under control. The era of licences and permits and scarcity was well and truly past. There was an abundance of never before choices in the marketplace. The sun was shining on a billowing economy; presaging increased employment generation. ‘God appeared to be in his heaven and all well with the world!  Why then did the campaign bounce back? It is perhaps one of those marketing enigmas. The story is quite similar to that of brand Churchill who won the Second World War for Britain with his slogans, ‘All out for England’ and ‘V for victory’, who was then quietly shown the door by the British electorate! 

As we advance to 2014, the Congress party wishes to launch brand Rahul. The teasers for brand Rahul have been in the air for far too long, that people wonder whether they would see the première at all. An elementary principle of brand management is that even the fattest advertising budgets or the slickest commercials will not be able to help a marketer if a brand does not have inherent strengths.

In 2008 Barack Obama rode to power on the flood tide of his oratory. One is yet to see Rahul delivering his ‘Gettysburg address’! From what little one has seen Rahul’s oratory does not exactly seem to set the Ganga on fire. In all these years since he came to represent the family fiefdom of Amethi in parliament, one has heard only one ‘Kalavathi’ speech from him and no other intervention, not even to ask a question!

Although according to his sycophants Rahul ostensibly represents youth in spite of his 43 years, he does not seem to inspire the youth brigade of the internet age with his profound wisdom. As students of Mumbai discomfited Barack Obama, their brethren in Patna and Ahmedabad made Rahul squirm. What is the vision he has for the youth of this country? How does he plan to educate and employ them? No one knows, for no one has heard him elaborate. The only solution his party comes up with in times of crises is offering freebies and proposals of reservations and more reservations.

Notwithstanding his pilgrimages to Dalit homes and second class suburban travel, his understanding of men and matters leaves much to be desired. (Gujarat is larger than the European Union!) One fine morning he decided to take up the cause of the victims of Bhatta-Parasul village whose lands were forcibly acquired by the UP state administration. Narrating the horrors he witnessed of people (presumably) killed and burnt, he informed the media that there were ‘70 feet of ashes’, whatever it meant!

If the piece in The Economist (Adams Robert. The Rahul problem. September 10, 2012) is anything to go by, even his biographer (Ramachandran, Aarthi. Decoding Rahul Gandhi) was hard put to paint a colourful portrait of him. AR says, this is the moment for Congress to dare to think of something radical: of reorganizing itself on the basis of policies, ideas and a vision of how India should develop.’ According to his biographer (as cited in the article) Rahul wants to apply the principles of management he learnt from Toyota to modernise the Congress party’s youth organisation. 

For brand Rahul the time has come to move from the quadrant of ‘problem children’: up, to the quadrant of ‘stars’ or down, to the quadrant of ‘dogs’, to be dropped eventually. As of now there is nothing to indicate that brand Rahul can become a ‘star’!  


  1. Brand Rahul or Band Rahul has no impact in Indian land-scape, though media kept propping it up as though he is the only alternative amongst 1.2 Billion Indians. Ask those whose houses he had visited. I had been to Kalavati village in Vidarbha to know the impact of this man's famous visit. If the cost of the reams of newsprint, or the air-time allotted to 'Kalavati' phenomenon was saved and invested in Kalavati's village, even Kalavati would have moved up the socio-economic order. Good read, Vox Garu. Miss you in News columns.

    1. Thank you Raghunathji for your comments and compliments!

  2. Hahaha, pardon my travesty Sir, but I was vastly humored at the various Marketing metaphors [dogs, problem children, stars and cash cows] that so aptly fit the political product, the brand called *Prince Rahul*!

    It is not surprising that this *Brand* Congress so desperately wants to market as cash cow beats not just theirs, but everybody's wisdom by a mile. The marketing strategy vigorously adopted by his Political Party, especially his godfather and mentor, Digvijay Singh in promoting him with overenthusiastic praise and prevaricated endowment has failed miserably. This failure was/is not due to any lack of quality or inferior marketing strategy. It was/is purely due to the inferior and camera hungry exhibition of being a fawning parasite more than being a person who has control, direction and character in him. Bu then, to expect anything beyond one’s inherent proficiency would be like crying for the moon particularly in this Brand's case!

    Hmmm! The last gamble of marketing the brand as the face of India's 'Youth' is by far a farcical attempt by his marketing executives. When the Brand genetically lacks fundamental requisites for appreciation, they can not create and distribute vitally and profusely the same Brand as the potential, rather, only choice of dignified decorum the 'Youth' of this Nation can find and follow! That would be ridiculous and equally disastrous if the 'Youth' was to imbibe this inferior specimen as their icon!

    His camera hungry visits to Dalit houses, eating with them, sleeping in the open with them et alia reflects the puerile and frivolous mental attitude which he considers as prospects of his future political career. The Political outfit he represents, the Congress, has of late come to realize their misplaced vanity in marketing this incompetent Brand. Raghuji's direct observation (in the comments above) to the contrary of what is generally aggrandized of *Rahul Brand's* visit to these places proves the attempted exaggeration of events to the contrary - in fact, fabricated hoax planted for the sake of sentimental marketing. They are now, as is the buzz in Main Stream Media these past few days, developing a strategy to rope in the female version of this Brand, *Priyanka Gandhi* to salvage their sinking ship. This time they are sort of determined that she does not just play the role of a marketing executing but be the *Brand* itself! Coming days will establish how far this is going to materialize. But considering the excessively despondent state Congress Party currently is in, a probability lingers.

    Be that as it may, for Brand Rahul however, the marketing enthusiasm with which it was launched has firmly drawn its curtains for the time being. As you correctly concluded, a reversal of Brand marketing is evolving with radical capitulation from cash cows, to stars, to problem child, to dogs! Well, one less of Gandhi and that much blessed the Nation will be.

    Sir, a distinguished, sparkling and incandescent piece of blog this is for us to imbibe. Thank you!

  3. Hi Sir,

    I was a class X student when a "secular" writer wrote an article blaming hindus for the non-progress of Muslims.

    Any common man could comprehend the game the writer was playing but I decided to counter her claims and e-mailed a response to the "secular" newspaper.
    The replies to the articles were all praises - no criticism was ever published in the "secular" newspaper.

    This made me think that I am perhaps the only one feeling offended by the lies.
    It was like waking up of Neo in the Matrix.

    I have talked to so many people while studying in school college and in job but majority of Hindus actually buy the "secular" lies. For them, no Hindu temples were ever destroyed, no forced conversions ever took place, the sorrow of Kashmir is the ill-treatment of Muslims and the valley pundits converted or left by choice.

    They have been brain washed so effectively by the media that they actually believe Godhra to be an accident. They actually think that people carry litres of petrol with them while going towards the railway stations. They actually believe that in Gujarat only Muslims were detained by the police and only Muslims were massacred.

    I happened to reach your blog by chance a few days back and I have read most of the articles now. I am glad that I am not the only one who sees through the "secular" agenda.

    To me sir, to decode the "secular" news is as simple as common sense. It is depressing to note that an overwhelming majority in this country lacks common sense.

    Thank you for creating this blog and I hope more people join this network and hopefully judge the "secular" English language media before revering its "secular" lies.

    1. Thank you for your comments. Expect VOXINDICA will live up to your expectations in future too and does its bit to expose the pseudo-secular English language media for what it is.

  4. This brand Rahul was a reality.
    I blame the media for the silly coverage they have been giving him,thus raising people's expectations of him.
    What was once seen as the ultimate in indian politcs has become a brand without value attached to it.

    1. Thank you for your comments. Yes, it is the media that has raised people's expectations; but does not have anything to substantiate it by way of performance. Pity, indeed!

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