Brand: Gandhi

November 8, 2009 § 4 Comments

Mont blanc, a german pen maker has launched a $23500 gold pen to honour Mahatma Gandhi on his 140th anniversary. A white color one in reference to truth & peace, with the nib showing Gandhi’s image walking with a stick. Apart from that, its a limited edition series with 241 pieces only signifying 241 miles Gandhi traveled on the salt march. Impressive. 1 piece = Rs. 11.75 lakhs.


Anyway, Amit Modi, secretary of the 102-year-old Sabarmati Ashram is quoted,

If he(Gandhi) had seen this, he would have thrown it away. I cannot imagine why anybody has done this. We cannot recognize this.

Chief executive Lutz Bethge was witty enough to say “..What we want to do is talk about the values of Mahatma Gandhi as well. And this is certainly a person who believed in non-violence, peace, education and tolerance, and these are universal values”. Some factions even feel “efforts need to be taken to protect the legacy that Gandhi left behind”.

I personally agree that he has a legacy. But, its too big to be tarnished by marketers. Same case with RSS trying to protect Hinduism. Brand Gandhi has been around for almost 75 years, Hinduism for over 1000 years. Did these people exist 30 years back to save the brand? If someone can think properly, whenever someone talks of Gandhi or Einstein, it technically means they make use of the brand value to enhance their product.
Same with politicians who rant about Gandhi or Nehru. Obama would have mentioned Gandhi’s name tons of times. Or if Gandhi does represent a symbol of austerity, think of Indian black money stashed in banks or used to bribe elections, all of them with our sweet smiling Gandhi. Why don’t someone suggest to take off his face from all Rs. 1000 notes?

I am pretty sure if Gandhi had been alive, he would not have bothered about these gimmicks. Interestingly enough, Gandhi’s great-grandson Tushar Gandhi’s charitable foundation has already got a $145,000 funding from Montblanc and will receive between $200 and $1,000 for each pen sold. 🙂

Leaving aside this piece, Marketers seem to have slightly shifted their focus to historical icons from current day celebrities. Apple using Einstein is OK, but Hitler in an ad? Needs a lot of brass. It’s less riskier than using cricketers or Salman khan who could go down any time.


Hitler: Make peace with the world

If you talk of guerrilla marketing, then both Mont blanc’s pen and Hitler’s ad(assuming) played its part perfectly.

Arun Vallappan

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