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Sunday, November 18, 2007

Belonging to a brand...everyone is invited

2 years ago when I took my car to the Mohakhali workshop for maintenance, I had the privilege to meet ‘someone’ who worked for Toyota. As I was waiting in the congested, dirty workshop to witness my car being dismantled, I was approached by one of the mechanics that my car will be ‘operated upon’ by their expert specialist, who worked in Toyota, Japan. The teenager announced this with a sense of pride in his eyes, shining bright through his greased, dusty, sweaty face. I nodded with a smile and curiosity. Moments later, there appeared a ‘guru mechanic’ wearing Bermuda shirts and wrench in his hand. No introduction needed, as he himself introduced his ex-employer first, Toyota that is, and started describing with confidence, how he plans to work on my car. I kept wondering how a mere sense of belonging to a big brand name can do wonders to its smallest, least insignificant of employees. With due respects to all forms of labor, who knew whether the lead mechanic worked as…a mechanic or as an executive or as the head of new product design in the Japanese car kingdom…really didn’t matter..atleast to him.

Similarly I keep on hearing every now and then from people staying abroad that so and so is working in Microsoft, or so and so has recently joined HP or NASA etc. We hear all this and are left with the impression that how insignificant our profession in Bangladesh is, people are working with big names, may be getting a hefty pay pack in the end of the month and look at us…chasing and swearing at the stubborn CNG-walas on our way to and from office in the choked streets of Dhaka city. But who knows…the grass may not be greener on the other side, but who bothers to cross check.

Last week, my office work took me to the realm of rural Bangladesh where the presence of ‘urban’ people is itself a reason for crowding, if its backed by Land Rovers too, then you are surely a reason to be stared at and enquired about. During the event proceedings, some of the curios onlookers become innocently courageous enough to approach you and ask, “afni ki ga-ra-min fone e kam koren??” (do you work in Grameen Phone?). My negative head nod is never enough to stop them from speculating that “apnera nishchoi onek taka pan…40-50 hajar…” (you must be earning a lot isn’t it? 40-50 thousand?). I keep wondering yet again that the ‘blue propeller’ has successfully penetrated into the remotest corners of Bangladesh so well, coupled with the happy piracy of its logos in t-shirts, caps etc. that it has become a household name and anybody working in, working with, working for, used to work in…Grameen Phone, could be a temporary celebrity in rural areas of Bangladesh.

Even in urban areas, I have noticed my friends working in GP getting (un)solicited phone calls during private hours i.e. while attending a Gaaye Holud program, dinner etc. Relatives, friends, friends’ neighbors, their friends, etc. keep on calling from time to time when they experience network problems, when their cellphone does not switch on, when they have a candidate who is looking for a job etc.—being absolutely unaware and relaxed about the fact that the person they are calling might be working in an entirely different department with little or no link, acquaintance in the department in concern. Such is the power of the GP brand it seems. Doesn’t matter if you are one of the directors, or AGM, DGM of any department or if you work as one of the lift operators in GP, as long as you can claim that the ‘blue propeller’ fans you, you will have a certain fan following around you (atleast in rural Bangladesh).

Lastly I remember when I used to work in a call center in India, we used to have a ‘transport manager’ called Christie. He used to arrange incoming and outgoing vehicles for the call center staff. One day I asked him where he lived in Delhi. He replied with conviction, “British High Commission, Chanakya Puri!”, I thought the British High Commissioner to India was speaking direct to me face to face. Later on I found out that he worked as a driver…say chauffeur…for the British High Commission. I was amused and surpirsed to see the exuberance he beamed, thanks to the Queen’s Union Jack brand, many Christies are around us, amidst us, basking in the glory of a strong brand and enjoying the limelight and attention.

1 comment:

Saeed Bin Rouf said...

প্রোডাক্ট বা সার্ভিস ব্রান্ডিং-টা বাংলাদেশের মানুষের উপর দারুন কাজ করে। এর মানে এই নয় যে অন্য দেশে প্রোডাক্ট বা সার্ভিস ব্রান্ডিং এর কোন ভ্যালু নেই। আমি এই কথা বলছি এই জন্য যে এদেশের মানুষের মনে যে কোন প্রোডাক্ট বা সার্ভিসের ব্রান্ডিং খানিকটা বেশি কাজ করে।
যেমন ধরুন- মোটরসাইকেলের কথা। ছোটবেলায় মোটরসাইকেল বলতে আমি বুঝতাম হোণ্ডার কথা; কিন্তু হোণ্ডা যে কোন কোম্পানীর নাম এইটা আমার অজানা ছিল। বিশ্বাস করুন, আমি আজও মোটরসাইকেল বলতে ইতস্তত করি।
আবার একদিন টোং-এ চা-সিগারেট খাওয়ার সময় সামনে বসা দুজন লোকের কথা শুনছিলাম। তাদের আলোচনার বিষয় বস্তু ছিল কে কি করে, কই থাকে ইত্যাদি ইত্যাদি। একজন বলছিলো আমি স্ট্যান্ডার্ড চার্টার্ডে কাজ করি... ... সামনে আমার বেতন বারবে... ...প্রচণ্ড পরিশ্রম করতে হয়... মাল্টিন্যাশনাল... বোঝেনই তো...ব্যস্ত থাকি। ইত্যাদি।
কয়েকদিন পর টাকা ডিপোজিট করতে গিয়ে দেখি সে G4S-এ গার্ড এর দায়িত্ব পালনে মহা ব্যস্ত।
তো এই ব্যাপারগুলি খুবই সাধারণ। যে HSBC বা BAT এর ঝারুদার সেও তো সেখানকারই মানুষ!
আর যাই বলুন ব্যাপারটার মধ্যে কিন্তু একটা আলাদা মজাই আছে!