Beneath the Glitter – Part 2
The Shoes of Sherlock Holmes…
Let’s play detective. We are at a crime scene. There is a mystery to solve. It demands the power of our analytical mind. Where do we begin? What would Sherlock Holmes do? Would he start with the glittering evidence? No. Mr. Holmes will begin by peeking ‘beneath the glitter’, down to the basics. His first question would be – ‘who is the victim?’ Next, he will try to capture the essence of ‘what happened?’ The third step would be enacting the crime scene – ‘how did it happen?’ That’s it, the world’s best investigator unplugged in three easy sequential steps of ‘who, what, & how’! There is only one commenter who has specifically emphasized on the starting “who” part, so let’s pick up Shripad’s cue and then watch where Mr. Holmes theories lead us to…
Who are they?
Oscars: Not-for-profit association of more than six thousand members nominated by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. The only reward for the academy members is the satisfaction of their vote being counted and broadcast across the planet. The absence of monetary stress has ensured that it remains an ‘awards function’ under the camouflage of a show.
Filmfare: For-profit business operated by the media giant – The Times Group. All its cousins are also owned by powerful media houses. The charter of Filmfare is to create wealth for its shareholders, the awards being just another business vertical. This business compulsion requires the event to be a ‘show’ under the pretense of an awards function.
What they make?
Oscars: The raw material in academy awards is the inexpensive Oscars Statuette. Camera captures the process of this raw material being polished by the nominees until it ends up in the hands of the awardee. To make the logistics seamless, all the nominees sit in the front rows of the audience. In fact, no matter how big a ‘star’ you are, if you are not a nominee—you are not invited. All the cast members of each entry sit together in a symbolic support through the evening’s laughter and tears.
Filmfare: There is no raw-material processing; instead, this business is about the higher-margin trading of the finished product—just like a jeweler’s shop where expensive showpieces are displayed to buyers under spot lights. The star’s row number in the audience is directly proportional to the size of the aura radiated over the years. With the battalion of stars of varied aura sizes to be accommodated, the new aspirants find it difficult to find a ‘nominee chair’ or just get hidden back in the star shadows.
How they sell?
Oscars: Since ‘sales’ is not the event’s charter, the sales promotions are fewer on stage. In fact, the lone salesman is the compere of the show. The show moves from award-to-award— ‘compere-presenter-awardee’—in a cyclical fashion. There is only a skeleton introduction of presenters, who also stick to the prescribed script. Each awardee needs to deliver the speech within stipulated time. This predictable approach allows the show to be telecast ‘live’ to the audience without the need of editing. The outcome itself, however, is unpredictable. For instance, the recent Academy awards saw different winners in all the four main categories: Best ‘Actor’, ‘Actress’, ‘Director’, & ‘Movie’!
Filmfare: A show without lights-camera-action on the stage is incomplete. Fortunately, Filmfare has plenty of sales volunteers. Some may even view the event as a sales conference with the top stalwarts being rewarded twice—once by performing on stage, the second time by receiving the award. There is a lot of dancing, singing, comedy, and drama with an unmoderated lease to the star performers. The show is about the journey, not the destination. Since the grand finale is devoid of suspense, there is no need to undertake the risk of broadcasting it ‘live’. For instance, the last awards function saw three of the top four categories (Actor, Director, Movie) go to Bhaag Milkha Bhaag (tragically for the makers, the script didn’t allow for a powerful female character)!
The Uncrypting: The investigation is over. The pieces of the puzzle are laid out in front of us. A simple assembly should reveal the secret. But that sounds very boring. Where is the fun of tackling a mystery that is devoid of complexities? A good mystery needs a twist. For, the primary ingredient of a good puzzle is – what appears obvious is not as obvious! And what is the most obvious observation in the above narration? That the two businesses are quite different! Although both are immensely popular within their target segment, Oscars approaches it socially, whereas Filmfare approaches it commercially. But astonishingly, here is the twist—Oscars is way ahead in terms of wealth generation; while Filmfare seems to have a higher emotional connect! The cost of a single 30-second ad during last season of Oscars was a jaw-dropping USD 1.8 million! On the other hand, the bright professionals following this blog—who perhaps might be following both the awards— seem to have better emotional connect with Filmfare (as evident from the poll results )!
So what does that teach us about business? Lesson 1: A business doesn’t need to chase money to succeed. Instead, like Oscars, if it stays focused on the core reason for its existence, the wealth generation will automatically follow (analogically, same as the conclusion of ‘The Hunt’ series where the identical lesson was applied to an individual instead of a corporate). Lesson 2: On the flip side, Filmfare’s better success at emotional connect validates that just because a business may be ruthlessly chasing wealth creation, it does not necessarily mean it doesn’t care and has lost its emotional connect with the targeted audience.
Googly: The above twin-lessons have their stand-alone credibility. But, unfortunately, they still don’t measure up to Sherlock Holmes’ mystery standards! You see, Mr. Holmes’ mysteries always come with a final googly just when you are ready to wrap up the case! All the ‘who, what, & how’ questions only lay the plot—they don’t actually solve the mystery. We have overlooked an all-important missing ‘why’ here—the motive of the murderer!!!
Why Filmfare awards are the way they are? I am sure that the organizers are smart professionals. In today’s competitive world, if they believe going the Oscars way can generate more wealth in the long run, why are none of the award organizers trying it? The answer obviously is that the Indian masses are not ready to accept the Oscars way of presenting awards. Which, in turn, leads to the next ‘why’ question: why are the Indian masses not ready for it? Perhaps the right answer to this question may carry a key to unlock the eluding business lesson and the dining doors of the Aroma house. For the records, our dining table has a seating capacity of ten … after accounting for four residents and two close-enough winners, we still have four empty slots…