The Peter Paradox

What would your reaction bwe if you stumble upon a man from Machilipatnam who walks and talks like he as born and brought up in Manhattan? You’ll snigger at him, right? And if that farcical fa

Published: 21st February 2012 12:50 AM  |   Last Updated: 16th May 2012 06:00 PM   |  A+A-

What would your reaction bwe if you stumble upon a man from Machilipatnam who walks and talks like he as born and brought up in Manhattan? You’ll snigger at him, right? And if that farcical facade got on your nerves, you might just mutter: Kya pheku hai! (what a pseud) Curiously, we don’t apply this derisive ‘Peter’ label to homegrown brands that appropriate very international — sounding names. We don’t mock at a Maharashtra-born ‘London Pilsner’ beer or a Ludhiana-made ‘Monte Carlo’ turtleneck. On the contrary, we seem perfectly fine if a local brand creates an aura of being European (case in point: Fiama di Wills). Strangely though, we do look down upon native brands that have a very native name. Somehow in our heads we grade a ‘Meenkashi’ as downmarket while we’re happy to classify ‘Fish Eye’ as uppity.

What our conditioned mind forgets is, ‘Fish Eye’ is but the English version of ‘Meen-akshi’! Funny, isn’t it? On one hand, we make fun of people who are very put on. On the other hand, we are totally at ease with brown skin brands that pretend to be white skin.

I’ve never quite fathomed this great Indian paradox. Luckily, there are still a few brave hearts who are not at all ashamed to court consumers with Bharatiya names.

Tanishq (Hindustani for Body Love) is a fabulous example. The company had a choice of riding on the super successful ‘Titan’. They could even have milked the mother cow ‘Tata’. But instead, they boldly bet on Tanishq-without ever losing sleep over picking an ‘uncool’ brown skin name. The gamble was well worth the trick as the jewellery brand rakes in over Rs 7,000 crores of moolah, today.

The crunchy Hindi moniker Kurkure is another blockbuster brand that’s unabashedly desi. Come to think of it, Aashirvad Aata, Radio Mirchi, Vatika, Meera, Santoor, Aaj Tak, Rasna, Vimal, Mufti, Shaadi.com and Amrutanjan have all been equally successful. Given this overwhelming evidence, you’d be surprised to know that only three in 10 brands launched in India opt for an Indian name. Makes you wonder if we are all just wannabe goras.

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