Grow Talent, Grow Brands

Month: April, 2013

Ten Commandments of a TED Talk

How to deliver a TED talk

How to create and deliver a presentation or talk as inspiring as a TED Talk? Begin with the end in mind. Define your purpose clearly and focus on creating a compelling presentation that inspires your audience and moves them to action. Above all, keep in mind the following Ten Commandments to make your presentation memorable and actionable.

Jeremey Donovan described the ten commandments for a TED talk as it is the benchmark for the most inspiring presentations in the world, in his book: How to Deliver a TED Talk: Secrets of World’s Most Inspiring Presentations.

  1. You should not simply do your customary attention-getting theatrical gimmicks.
  2. You should dream big, show a wondrous new thing or share something you have never shared before.
  3. You should tell a story.
  4. You should not sell from the stage – neither your company, your goals, your writings, your desperate need for funding.
  5. You should remember the simple, eternal truth that laughter is good.
  6. Your delivery should reveal your curiosity and your passion.
  7. You should freely comment on the utterances of other speakers for the sake of blessed connection and exquisite controversy.
  8. You should not flaunt your ego. Be vulnerable. Speak of your failures as well as successes.
  9. You should not read your speech.
  10. You should not steal the time of your audience, of those that follow you. Make your speech worth their time.

Great Taste, Less Filling

tastes great, less filling

How do you create a whole new market for your product, and then dominate it? By Being different. By going against the common conception rather misconception. That’s what Miller Lite did. The common misconception was that you couldn’t drink a light beer that actually tasted good. Miller Lite took on the debate, and in every ad featured two manly idols declare, which was better – Great Taste, or Less Filling.

And with Miller Lite, the first-ever beer in the light category, you could have both! For decades after this campaign launched, Miller Lite dominated the light beer market they essentially created. Great Taste, Less Filling campaign, which began in 1974 has been one of the most memorable and successful campaigns of all time. Advertising Age magazine ranked it as the eighth best campaign in advertising history!

McCann-Erickson Worldwide developed the advertising campaign. The television commercials typically portrayed a Miller Lite drinker noting its great taste followed by another who observed that it was less filling. This usually led to a parody of Wild West Saloon fights in which every patron got involved in the dispute for no real reason. The commercials were closed with a voiceover from actor Eddie Barth, who read the slogan, Lite Beer from Miller: Everything you’ve always wanted in a beer. And less.

Early in 1999, Miller dusted-off the 25-year old formula of having people debate the merits of the brand, Great Taste and Less Filling. The company felt that the less filling claim had lost its uniqueness as other light beers have entered the market. The ads changed their focus on Miller Lite’s taste and ingredients.

Probably the eroding market share in the subsequent years prompted the company to revisit its success formula. Miller has revived the best loved theme of their 38-year old original advertising theme – Great Taste, Less Filling in 2008.

Will There Be a ‘Sunshine’ in India?

Sunrise Act

Paradoxical as it may seem there is no Sunshine (ACT) in India. Not yet. The Times of India article on the Bid to Legalize Pharma Companies’ Sops for Doctors dated April 19, 2013, casts a permanent cloud whether there would ever be an ACT similar to the Sunshine Act of the US governing payments to physicians.

The ever-increasing and seemingly never-ending corrupt practices involving physicians and pharmaceutical industry is difficult imagine. There seems to be a sort of contractual relationship that is mutually rewarding between a number of physicians and some Pharma companies. It could be payments in cash or kind, huge discounts to the pharmacies owned or sponsored by the prescribing physicians or as services that include paid vacations for the family in India or even abroad or expensive to very expensive gifts.

The Ethical Codes are well defined both by the OPPI (Organization of Pharmaceutical Producers of India), the industry organization and the MCI (Medical Council of India), the regulatory body for medical practice and practitioners in India. Both seem to be toothless paper tigers, who cannot ensure compliance from their respective members.

What is alarming, is the lack of any kind of public discussion or outrage at the implication of legitimizing sops to physicians. Already rampant is the systemic disregard for transparency in financial and other interactions between members representing the Pharmaceutical industry and the physician community. The current proposal can only serve as an attempt to legitimize the feeble deterrents to the current questionable practices despite  the OPPI Code and MCI guidelines (details below). It’s not about the Code or guidelines. It is about their implementation. Once the principle of transparency in all transactions replaces the current practice of total concealment, things are most likely to fall in place. In this context, the Physician Payments Sunshine Act in the US and the American Medical Association’s view on CME are worth emulating.


  1. No financial benefit or benefit-in-kind may be provided or offered to a healthcare professional in exchange for prescribing, recommending, purchasing, supplying or administering products or for a commitment to continue to do so. Nothing may be offered or provided in a manner or on conditions that would have an inappropriate influence on a healthcare professional’s prescribing practices or would influence their professional integrity and autonomy or will compromise patients interest in any manner
  2. Member companies or their representatives shall not give any travel facility inside the country or outside, including rail, air, ship, cruise ticket, paid vacations, etc., to healthcare professionals for self and family members for vacation or for attending conferences, seminars, workshops, CME program etc, as a delegate.
  3. Member companies or their representatives shall not give any travel facility inside the country or outside, including rail, air ship, cruise ticket, paid vacations, etc, to healthcare professionals for self and family members for vacation or for attending conferences, seminars, workshops, CME program, etc., as a delegate.
  4. Member companies shall not provide any hospitality like hotel accommodation to healthcare professionals and family members under any pretext except when they are engaged in advisory capacities as consultants, as researchers, as treating doctors or in any other professional capacity.
  5. No entertainment or other leisure or social activities should be provided or paid for by member companies.
  6. Member companies shall not provide to a medical practitioner any cash or monetary grant for individual purpose in individual capacity under any pretext.
  7. Member companies or their sales people or representatives shall not provide any gift to a medical practitioner.

MCI Guidelines

  1. No gifts from pharmaceutical or allied healthcare industry
  2. No junkets inside the country or abroad from pharmaceutical or allied healthcare industry
  3. No cash or money grants. Funding for medical research, study etc, only through approved institutions under specified guidelines
  4. Allowed medical research projects funded by pharmaceutical and allied healthcare industries on certain grounds including due permission from competent authorities
  5. To maintain professional autonomy

Penalties Quantified by MCI

  1. Gifts worth ₹1,000 – 5,000: Censure on traveling abroad for work or studies
  2. Gifts between ₹ 5,000 – 10,000: Name to be struck off medical register for three months, plus censure
  3. Gifts between ₹ 10,000 – 50,000: Suspension from practice for six months, plus censure
  4. Gifts worth ₹50,000 – 100,000: License suspension for a year
  5. Gifts worth over ₹100,000: Suspension for more than a year

Less than a year ago, when the Congress, MP, Jyoti Mirdha stirred up the hornet’s nest of physician payments by Pharma through a letter to the Prime Minister, the 45 Parliamentary  Standing Committee report recommended that appropriate regulations be added to the drugs and cosmetics rules to prohibit the pharmaceutical manufacturers from offering such freebies that are prohibited under MCI rules.

The government seems to be backpedalling the decision of ban on the gifts and sponsorships of physicians by Pharma companies to day giving to the pressure of respective lobbies. The reason for such a round-about-turn? The department of pharmaceuticals explains in a letter: Most of the hospitals / institutions in India do not have any provisions to send doctors to congresses and conferences. Appropriate support from pharmaceutical and allied healthcare industries will enable the Indian doctors to get access to the latest developments in medical research, which in turn will enable them to improve the level of patient care in India.

AMA (American Medical Association) on CME 

Compare this with what the American Medical Association’s Journal, Virtual Mentor, said about CME (Continuing Medical Education): Industry support of CME activities should be limited to contributions to a central fund that would disburse the money to programs accredited by the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education. Only CME activities that are entirely free of direct pharmaceutical industry funding should qualify as education. The best solution would be that the education of physicians be funded by physicians, not by a third party, whose profits are directly related to prescribing behavior.

Brinda Karat, a member of Rajya Sabha said in this context: It is absolutely shocking. This is not what was told to Parliament about bringing about reforms to put an end to the practice of Pharma companies bribing the doctors. We will definitely be taking this up in Parliament.

What is even more disturbing is the process of concealment instead of disclosure of such payments. Even after making the payments to physicians by Pharma companies taxable from the earlier tax-deductible status as marketing expenditure, it does not deter anyone from doing it. What is needed is transparency. Disclosure. Disclosure of the amounts paid and for the purpose for which they paid. Once that information is made public, it would probably bring in the necessary change through social pressure, albeit gradually.

Sunshine ACT in the US

Two Senators – The Republican Senator from Iowa, Charles Grassley and Herb Kohl, the Democratic Senator from Wisconsin introduced the Physician Payments Sunshine Act to bring transparency to the pharmaceutical industry in the US. The Act will change the face of drug research and development by enhancing transparency between drug makers, physicians and the public. Here are the major requirements of the Sunshine ACT.

  1. Pharma companies need to make the information available for the public regarding all payments made to the physicians giving details such as: the name of the physician, or the teaching hospital along with address; the amount value of the payment or other transfer value; the national provider identifier for the physicians; the dates on which the payment is made; a description of the form of the payment or the transfer value – cash or cash equivalent in kind, items or services; stock or stock option or any other ownership interest, dividend, profit or other return on investment; a description of the nature of payment or other transfer value as – consulting fees; compensation for services other than consulting such as honorarium, gift, entertainment, food and beverage, travel and lodging, education, research, charitable contribution, royalty or license, current or prospective ownership or investment interest, direct compensation for serving as faculty or as a speaker for a medical education program, grant etc. Pfizer has been reporting all its payments to physicians from 2010.
  2. By 2013, pharmaceutical and device manufacturers in the US must report all gifts and payments greater than $10 made to physicians and hospitals. If the gifts or payments valued are less than $10 but exceed $100 annually should also be reported. Failure to submit the required information result in fines: $1,000 to $10,000 for each payment not fully reported with a cap of $150,000. Any applicable manufacturer that knowingly fails to accurately and completely submit required information in a timely manner is subject to pay a penalty of between $10,000 and $100,000 for each payment that is not reported with a cap of $1,000,000. The database will go live by September 2014.

It is worth noting, remembering, reflecting and practicing what Dr. Jeremy A. Lazarus, President, American Medical Association, wrote in an online communique as reported on February 4, 2013: The AMA will carefully review the new Physician Payment Sunshine Act Rule. Physician’s relationships with the pharmaceutical industry should be transparent and focused on benefits to patients.

Will there be a Sunshine Act-like legislation governing the payments to physicians by Pharma in India? There was at least a hope that someday there might be. But not now. Not after this bid to legalize Pharma companies’ sops for doctors.

Creativity in Medical Advertising

Terramycin Ad

This 1952 ad for Pfizer’s Terramycin is one of the most creative ads in Medical Advertising. McAdams advertising agency created this ad and John Kallir wrote the copy.

Describing the 1950s as the golden period of medical advertising, Medicine Avenue wrote:

1950s heralded the wonder drug era. Diseases previously untreatable suddenly could be cured or alleviated by new medication. American pharmaceutical industry, American medicine and the Wall Street shared this triumph of new chemical and biological discoveries that significantly improved public health and quality of living.

Consequently, medical advertising agencies had the enviable task of delivering the inspiring message of technological advances to healthcare practitioners. Medical advertising reflected this technological revolution through a comparable transformation with impactful graphics, challenging copy and media saturation strategies.

If a watershed event in this transition can be identified, it is probably the intensive campaign McAdams conducted under the leadership of Dr. Sackler for Pfizer’s Terramycin.

Four Questions to Writers

Eric Arthur Blair (June 1903 – January 1950), better known by the pen name of George Orwell, was an English novelist and journalist. Best known for the dystopian novel 1984 (written in 1949), Orwell’s work continues to influence popular and political culture. The term – Orwellian – is descriptive of totalitarian or authoritarian social practices. Times ranked him second in a list of The 50 greatest British writers since 1945.

His advice to writers:

A scrupulous writer, in every sentence that he writes, will ask himself at least four questions:

  1. What am I trying to say?
  2. What words will express it?
  3. What image or idiom will make it clear?
  4. Is this image fresh enough to have an effect?

He would probably ask two more questions:

5. Could I put it more shortly?

6.  Have I said anything that is avoidably ugly?

The advice to writers that he gave in his 1946 essay, Politics and the English Language, is useful to writers of advertising copy too. Perhaps, we can add one more question in case of copy writers: Whom are we going to say to or Who are our target audience?

Medical Advertising: Pain Doll Campaign Helps the Brand Standout in a Crowded Market


How do you enter an already crowded market like post-herpetic neuralgia or after-shingles pain? You need to get attention, no, grab attention for sure. And then, you need to sustain it as long as you can. Easier said than done?

Consider how Depomed, a specialty pharma company based in California along with their advertising agency The Cement Bloc have done precisely that – grab and sustain attention in a crowded post-herpetic-neuralgia market for their Gralise, the first and only once-daily formulation of gabapentin tablets.

Depomed designed a campaign to grab and hold attention for its Gralise. It created a memorable Pain Doll brand character, who before treatment is stuck with four pins. After treatment, two pins have fallen away. The highly suggestive visualization of a fun, novel icon – the Pain Doll, combined with clean, clever communication were highly effective. Gralise has shown considerable growth and its brand recognition increased 47 per cent in six months.

The headline and copy of the print campaign said:

Give your patients with PHN the full day

With new Once-daily Gralise

Reduce the burden of post-herpetic neuralia (PHN)

New Gralise offers 24-hour pain control

Once daily dosing, favorable tolerability, and effective 2-week titration.

The benefits such as 24-hour pain control, once daily dosing, favorable tolerability profile are highlighted again.

The body copy contains its unique advantages in brief. The campaign won the Silver Award of Medical Marketing and Media in the print ad campaign category last year.

Can you think of creating a memorable brand character, brand icon, or mnemonic to make your communication standout in the already overcrowded market?

John Wooden: The Difference Between Winning and Succeeding

john-wooden-ted_std.original copy

John Wooden was the first person to be inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame both as a player and coach. ESPN ranked him as the greatest coach of all time across all sports. In his 40 years at UCLA, he mentored legends such as Bill Walton and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. He authored several books imparting his insight on achievement, winning and success to others.

With profound simplicity, Coach John Wooden redefined success urging all of us to pursue the best in ourselves. Here are excerpts from his inspiring TED Talk, John Wooden: The difference between winning and succeeding. In this talk he shares the values and life lessons to us all.

I coined my own definition of success in nineteen hundred and thirty-four, when I was teaching at a high school in South Bend, Indiana.

Dad tried to teach me and my brothers that you should never try to be better than someone else. Always learn from others. Never cease trying to be the best you can be – that’s under your control. If you get too engrossed and involved about the things over which you have no control, it will adversely affect the things over which you have control. Then I ran across this simple verse that said, “ At God’s footstool to confess, a poor soul knelt, and bowed his head. ‘ I failed!’ he cried. The Master said, “ Thou didst thy best, that is success.”

From those things, and one other perhaps, I coined my own definition of success. Which is: peace of mind attained only through self-satisfaction in knowing you made the effort to do the best of which you’re capable. I believe that’s true. If you make the effort to the best of which you’re capable, try and improve the situation that exists for you, I think that is success. And I don’t think others can judge that. I think it’s like character and reputation. You reputation is what you are perceived to be; your character is what you really are. And I think that character is much more important than what you are perceived to be. You’d hope they’d both be good. But they won’t necessarily be the same. Well, that was my idea that I was going to try to get across to the youngsters.

Reminds me of another set of threes that my dad tried to get across to us. Don’t whine. Don’t complain. Don’t make excuses. Just get out there, and whatever you’re doing, do it to the best of your ability. And no one can do more than that. I tried to get that across, too that – my opponents don’t tell you – you never heard me mention winning. Never mention winning. My idea is that you can lose when you outscore somebody in a game. And you can win when you’re outscored. I’ve felt that way on certain occasions, at various times. And I just wanted them to be able to hold their head up after a game. I used to say that when a game is over, and you see somebody that didn’t know the outcome, I hope they couldn’t tell you by your actions whether you outscored as an opponent or the opponent outscored you.

That’s what really matters: If you make effort to do the best you can regularly, the results will be about what they should be. Not necessary to what you would want them to be, but they will be about what they should, and only you will know whether you can do that. And as time went by, and I learned more about other things, I think it worked a little better, as far as the results. But I wanted the score of a game to be the byproduct of these other things, and not the end itself. I believe it was – Cervantes, who said, “ The journey is better than the end”… It’s getting the players to get that self-satisfaction, in knowing that they’d made the effort to do the best of which they are capable.

You know a number of years ago, George Joseph Moriaty, a Major League Baseball umpire wrote something he called, The Road Ahead or The Road Behind, which reads like this:

Sometimes I think the Fates must

Grin as we denounce and insist

The only reason we can’t win

Is the Fates themselves that miss

Yet there lives on an ancient claim

We win or lose within ourselves

The shining trophies on our shelves

Can never win tomorrow’’s game

You and I know deeper down

There’s always a chance to win the crown

But when we fail to give our best

We simply haven’t met the test

Of giving all, and saving none

Until the game is really won

Of showing what is meant by grit

Of fighting on when others quit

Of playing through, not letting up

It’s bearing down that wins the cup

Of taking it and taking more

Until we gain the winning score

Of dreaming there’s a goal ahead

Of hoping when our dreams are dead

Of praying when our hopes have fled

If bravely, we have given all

For who can ask more of a man

Than giving all within his span

Giving all, it seems to me

Is not so far from victory

And so the Fates are seldom wrong

No matter how they twist and wind

It is you and I who make our fates

We open up or close the gates

On the road ahead or the road behind.

Advertising is like liver

Claude Hopkins and Scientific Advertising


Claude C. Hopkins (1866 – 1932) was one of the great advertising pioneers. He believed advertising existed only to sell something and therefore, should be measurable and accountable. Claude Hopkins had built a huge reputation by turning dozens of previously unknown products such as Quaker Oats, Goodyear Tires, The Bissell Carpet Sweeper, Van Camp’s Pork and beans among others. Charles Duhigg credits Hopkins for creating a tooth-brushing habit among American population with his brilliant Pepsodent toothpaste campaign in his best selling book, The Power of Habit.

Claude Hopkins was perhaps the first person to use key coded coupons to track the results of his advertising and then tested headlines, offers and propositions against one another. He always strived continuously to improve his ad results driving responses. He was also concerned about the cost-effectiveness of his ads and continuously improved it by using the analysis of these measurements. He always insisted copywriters research their clients’ products and produce persuasive, reason-why copy.

Claude Hopkins wrote Scientific Advertising in 1923. It is valid even today in 2013. It will be relevant even tomorrow. David Ogilvy, one of the greatest advertising gurus once said that nobody at any level should be allowed to have anything to do with advertising until he has read ‘Scientific Advertising’ seven times. He got his copy in 1923 from Rosser Reeves, another legendary ad man, who gave the concept of USP (Unique Selling Proposition) to the world. Since then, David Ogilvy had given 379 copies of the book to clients and colleagues. That’s how great a book Scientific Advertising is. Four years later, in 1927 Claude Hopkins wrote another book giving his autobiographical account, My Life in Advertising.

Here are the ten commandments, and principles etched in the stone of advertising, which offer valuable insights into the art and science of advertising:

1.Don’t think of the people in the mass. That gives a blurred view. Think of a typical individual, man or woman who is likely to want what you sell. Don’t try to be amusing. Money spending is a serious matter. Don’t boast, for all people resent it. Don’t try to show off. Do just what you think a good salesman should do with half-sold person before him.

2. The maker of an advertised article knows the manufacturing side and probably the dealer’s side. But the very knowledge often leads him astray in respect to customers. His interests are not in their interests. The advertising man studies the consumer. He tries to place himself in the position of the buyer. His success largely depends on doing that to the exclusion of everything else.

3. The ads are based entirely on service. They offer wanted information. They cite advantages to users. Perhaps they offer a sample, or to buy the first package, or to send something on approval, so the customer may prove the claims without any cost or risks. Some of these ads seem altruistic. But they are based on the knowledge of human nature. The writers know how people are led to buy.

4. People can be coaxed but not driven. Whatever they do they do to please themselves.

5. What you have will interest certain people only, and for certain reasons. You care only for those people. Then create a headline, which will hail those people only.

6. All guess work is eliminated. Every mistake is conspicuous. One quickly loses this conceit by learning how often his judgement errs – often nine times in ten. There one learns that advertising must be done on a scientific basis to have any fair chance of success.

7.To say Best in the World, Lowest price in existence etc, are at best simply claiming the expected. But superlatives of that sort are usually damaging. They suggest looseness of expression, a tendency to exaggerate, a careless truth. They lead readers to discount all the statements that you make.

8. We must consider individuals, typical people who are using rival brands. A man on a Pullman, for instance, using his favorite soap. What could you say to him in person to get him to change to yours? We cannot go after thousands of men until we learn how to win one.

9. Give samples to interested people only. Give them only to people who exhibit that interest by some effort. Give them only to people whom you have told your story. First create an atmosphere of respect, a desire, an expectation. When people are in that mood, your sample will usually confirm the qualities you claim.

10. Show a bright side, the happy and attractive side, not the dark and uninviting side of things. Show beauty, not homeliness; health, not sickness. Don’t show the wrinkles you propose to remove, but the face as it will appear. Your customers know all about wrinkles.

Remember these ten commandments of advertising every time you are creating an ad for your product, and you are much more likely to create ads that move people and products.

Does She or Doesn’t She?


The modern hair coloring revolution came not through a safer product, or through a one-step, easy-to-use formulation, but through clever, image-changing advertising, wrote Charles Panati, the former Newsweek editor and a successful author of many books. Specifically, it was the long-running Clairol campaigns of the 1950s and 1960s that asked – Does She or Doesn’t She? – that helped eliminate the stigma for women who were trying only to hide a few strands. With a wink the subhead in these ads replied: only her hair dresser knows for sure! 

In 1949, the single-step Miss Clairol Hair Color Bath was introduced to the American beauty industry. In 1956, Clairol launched an at-home version of Miss Clairol Hair Color Bath and became a household name. Clairol’s one-step home color was a breakthrough in the beauty industry as was its advertising campaign. Clairol hired the advertising firm Foote, Cone & Belding, which assigned the account to a junior copywriter, Shirley Polykoff, the only female copywriter at the firm.

When Polykoff met her future mother-in-law for the first time, she took her son aside and asked him about the true color of his girlfriend’s hair. Does She color her hair or Doesn’t She? The embarrassed Polykoff could imagine what her mother-in-law was asking. Although, Polykoff did color her hair, the practice was not something to which women openly admitted during that period. In 1956, when Polykoff was assigned the Clairol campaign hair dye was still considered to be something not used by genteel women. Polykoff remembered and recalled the question her mother-in-law asked – Does She or Doesn’t She? and one of the century’s most enduring, appealing and successful advertising slogans was born!

Does She or Doesn’t She? became a very effective and memorable slogan. The first time Clairol asked this question in 1957, the answer was 15 to 1. That’s right, only one in fifteen women were using artificial hair color. Just eleven years later, the answer was 2 to 1 according to a report published by Time magazine. In 1967, eleven years after the launch of the Clairol campaign, Polykoff was inducted into the Advertising Hall of Fame.

Malcolm Gladwell wrote in True Colors, a 1999 New Yorker history of a hair dye that: Clairol captured the feminist sensibility of the day with a shampoo-in hair and memorable advertising slogans. In writing the history of women in the postwar era, did we forget something important? Did we leave out hair?

What is the secret of Clairol’s uncommon advertising success? Clairol did the opposite of what most marketers would do. They didn’t want everywoman on the street running around saying that they were using their product. Instead they wanted women to understand that their product was so good, people wouldn’t be able to tell if they were using it or not. Sometimes, simply conveying how and why your product works is not enough. Showing becomes more effective than telling.

Can you think differently for your products and design compelling communication strategies? Strategies that rather show than tell about your products?