Back to 2006-2007. Post launch of two English newspapers in Mumbai, the fight for respectful second was still on. TOI (Times of India) was feeling the heat but had the cushion of legacy & numbers.
One of the newly launched English newspaper decided to introduce a circulation drive based on classic coupon scheme. The process was simple; circulation sold these highly discounted coupon booklets to the readers. This money was deposited at the newspaper-billing department. The readers gave one coupon per month to the hawker instead of cash. Hawker presents the coupon at newspaper office and collects cash.
Marketing and brand team as per verbal communication from 2nd-in-command at the newspaper went ahead and printed 5000 coupon booklets and handed them over to circulation.
Till here things were working like an ISO certified process. It became a problem only when hawkers started submitting coupons for reimbursement at the newspaper office.
What happened? Simple, in the chaotic system working in top gear people failed to regularise and document the scheme. Circulation sold the booklets or lets say used the booklet and no one in billing was aware of the scheme. There were no internal records. No one submitted the cash after selling the booklet.
Smart circulation guys under pressure to build up numbers sidestepped the process. They showed false gain in numbers. Then they sold newspaper as raddi (Scrap). If that was not enough, they tried to get the coupons cashed through hawkers. This is where they were caught.
With no internal record and no one aware of what was happening, marketing was hauled up for being inefficient and causing more than 25 Lakh loss. Management called in manager (brand) who had printed the booklet. Luckily management had full trust in his integrity. But, organisation needs scapegoats. The trail unfortunately was ending at his level. Management openly shared what they had unearthed. The poor manager marketing was asked to think peacefully and try remembering everything associated with the coupon booklets. The management was interested to identify all who were involved. They were fuming as to how this could happen without anyone being wiser.
Here is where the hero of the story, a 248 KB excel file makes its grand entry. It was the only document that listed how 5000 booklets were distributed within the circulation team. Not surprising that the call for coupon reimbursement were coming from same pockets. The marketing manager was saved. I am told that some senior member and the circulation zonal head were sacked.
A classic example when a 248 KB excel file as a result of diligent documenting actions and decisions, a simple CYAUYH (Cover your ass using your head) saved the day.
……….. OTHER ADVERTISING MARKETING EPISODES …
● The ZenTangle Meditation – try it it works ● THE ACRONYM – How while branding one must do the acronym test ● REVESRE SELLING– how the hunter becomes hunted ● TRIMING THE BILL OF BEER FAT – how the bill at a 5 star hotel in Mumbai was inflated with beer fat that needed triming ● THREATENING TO DANCE WITH TWO LEFT FEET – just to get the party going THE CHASE that could have got us killed ● SHARING IS CARING The coded message by a PSU client ● SLEEP How Swaraj Mazda account was won by Anil Maitre ● The other semi-final – How beer has answe to everything ● RUMBLING – amplifying the peace ● COWARD – A sad smiling face had lot of unanswered questions ● OVERDOSE – What happened with a good B2B initiative at holi. ● CAN YOU MAKE SOMEONE AN ENGLISHMAN OVERNIGHT ● THE WATCH: How do you know what your client is signalling ● IRRATIONAL DEMAND – how clients expect agencies to do things ● DOUBLE SURPRISE– Never walkin a party not knowing the occassion ● DING DONG EXCITEMENT AT MACAU – the addiction to casino ● HOT RIDE AT PUSHKAR – adventure ● THE WALK : How we discovered the culture at Macau ● The Jump – a team of 7 go skyjumping during annual conclave at Pattaya ● HIGH SEA GAMBLING – the merry making in international waters ● KOTI ANGLES: Gambeling in Goa ● MISSING LIPS : How friendship develops to create different expectations ● The Trap: How the AE searching for adventure got duped ● Equal Opportunity to Indulge: How HR finds itself ina spot in Pattaya ● THE LOST HAUNTING MUSIC– An experience ● UNNAMED SPIRIT- A SPOOKY EXPERIENCE at Mcleodganj ● PUNJABI LINTAS – Amrit Puri takes over Lintas ● DELAYED LAUNCH – Why HT Delhi Colour supplement launch was delayed ● UNDERGROUND – Printing fake currency could have led to jail ● STRATEGIC RAIN BREAK – How ZID KARO DHONI film was shot ● THANK YOU ● RAIN CLAUSE – I – The fight with Whitelight film over Maruti film ● LETHAL COMBINATION ● APPETITE – It does not matter where you get the appetite till you eat at home ● Puncture – how not to get caught ● ADULTERY- THE MOMENT – Its all for you to decide how far you would go ● ASSET – how a famous Indian model was rejected ● I AM SANKAR – soft ragging of new trainee ● THE COUNT ● INTRODUCTION ● TIME BOMB – How to avoid embarrassing situation ● SMALL TILE – eye for detail ● SHOOT REPORT – junior saving the issue by innovative process ● SARDAR KHUSH HOGA – the agency reaction to a demand ● SHOOT AT MUD ISLAND – shooting with Denzil ●KAALI PEELI PICTURE – what do you do you’re your model is featured in Debonair ● UPGRADE – Bangalore ITC ● JUHI EFFECT– there is something called lady luck in gambling ● POWER OF PUNJAB ● OUT – let game be game ● TWO MORE – how not to pay for the drinks ● ELEVEN MINUTES – client tackles late agency ● THE CHERRY WIN –Team plays a prank ● THE PRESENTATION – junior takes revenge for last minute changes ● BLACK GOLD – A lesson on TVC presentation ● BUFFERED –delivery at airport ● CONTINUE WITH CLIENT – The management supports a high pitched battle with client ● NOT FIRED – just in time action by agency ● ONE LESS DECISION – a campaign thought represented umpteen times● HIGH JACKING THE GOAFEST DELEGATES – a ground event that took Goafest by surprise ● THE GHOST OF 35 RANI JHANSI ROAD JHANDEWALAON – The unsiad stories ● THE PROBLEM – Agency tackling a no-brief from client ● IMPORTED ART CARD – a quick retort to finiky client ● BANYAN TREE AGENCY – Agency tackles cost issue on unapproved estimates