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Start with a record

How did you welcome the New Year this time? G. Navakumar of Vellore, India ushered in 2008 by painting the flags of 102 countries on two rows of paper -- each 185 feet long. He then inserted a new year greeting between the parallel rows. The Indian flag had a picture of a white dove, indicating peace. He plans to add flags of another 90 countries for a place in the Limca Book of Records. » Continue reading

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Size doesn't matter

Getting close to sparring canines can be dangerous. Even the elephants know the rule. Recently, in Madurai, India, an 11-year-old elephant ran away seeing two dogs fighting, and barged into a nearby hotel. No amount of persuasion from the mahout worked as the scared elephant refused to come out. It did, eventually, after the fear subsided. » Continue reading

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Ad industry looks at 'cyberia'

The face of Indian advertising is changing. The action has shifted to 'cyberia' and advertising firms are reorienting themselves for a toehold on the digital domain. Industry insiders say the country's ad landscape will see more "integration and people-oriented nice campaigns" in the digital age.

"This is the age of online communities, messengers, blogs and searches. Advertising agencies will have to invest in developing core competencies to play an even role in this landscape," Nirvik Singh, president, South Asia, Grey Worldwide, a global advertising group said. The trick, says the ad whizkid, is to think digital and execute.

The change has been fuelled by the explosion in the growth of the internet since 2006. Predictions by the London-based Zenith Optimedia say ad-spend on the internet will overtake radio, cinema and outdoor advertising in two years. Internet advertising will be valued at more than Rs 22.5 billion by the end of 2010, which works out to an almost tenfold increase.

Watchers say classified advertising on the internet will mop up the maximum revenue with an estimated contribution of Rs 9 billion by 2009 followed by search engines' Rs 7.42 billion. Display ads will rake in another estimated Rs 6.07 billion.

The marketing solutions of the future, says Zubin Driver, network creative head of TV 18's specialized advertising unit "Cell", is one-stop ad shops that provide integrated and value-added service to consumers. "I think the ideas have to be multimedia. It has to have its life on the mobile, web and on the screen," said Driver.

Driver sees a lot of cost rationalization in advertising as the market is inflated and the entry of more organized players like Cell, which offers almost everything -- from creative ad clips, promotional capsules to channel packaging and brand solutions -- under one roof. The emphasis, says Driver, will be more on the effectiveness of advertising a product than "pure creativity".
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Daughter speak

Chelsea ClintonOne person who was seen in Hillary Rodham Clinton's campaign trail is her daughter Chelsea. Though she mixes with the crowd after Hillary's speech, she is out of bounds for the press. In Iowa recently, a kid reporter of Scholastic News, nine-year-old Sydney Rieckhoff, asked her, "Do you think your dad would be a good 'first man'?" Chelsea brushed her question aside, saying, "I'm sorry, I don't talk to the press. Even though I think you're cute." Though initially crestfallen, Sydney was happy; she got to speak to Bill and Hillary.
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Conman in uniform

Conmen love playing the role of a policeman, with whom they interact the most. Loorthanathan from Bangalore, India is no different. He specializes in duping the gullible wearing police uniform. When he was arrested recently, the license plate of his bike had the letter 'G', which suggests that it belongs to the government. Loorthanathan, who the police claim cheated over 70 people, even had a helmet similar to the one used by the police. » Continue reading

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Go slow, baby!

According to health officials in Satara district of Maharashtra (India), the family way should not be treated as expressway. The officials are reportedly offering prizes to couples who take their feet off the libido accelerator. If a couple delays their first baby by two years, the prize is INR 5,000; a three-year gap will give them INR 7,500. Does infertility merit a jackpot? » Continue reading

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Screened over

Skyscreen - The largest LED screen Asia in Beijing, ChinaBeijing now boasts the largest LED screen in Asia. The recently unveiled 'skyscreen' stretches 250m above the pedestrian walkway at a newly opened shopping mall in the central business district.

One can sip coffee and watch the various crafty videos on show. And surprisingly, there is no advertising, at least as yet. As of now, the only 'advertising' on the skyscreen are the propaganda videos promoting the heroism of the Chinese communist ideal.
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