Truth in Advertising

I drove past a billboard yesterday that featured a woman trying hard to look proud but really only looking standoffish, or defiant, you know? Like somebody who was about to challenge me to a duel? And next to her was the tag line - "It's harder to get into IIMB than it is to get into Wharton." Or something to that effect, followed by "Bangalore is in my DNA" or some such.

I almost threw up.

And No. Not because I went to Wharton, but because it is a line that is neither true nor false, and it is calculatingly used to misguide people into thinking that IIMB is better than Wharton. And guess what. I've never heard this tag line used by IIMB, It's always by some namby pamby ass to generate a hollow sense of pride in a city and it's institutions, in the hope that the emotion will translate to higher sales of something or the other

Lets look at that statement - IIMB is harder to get into that Wharton.
I've got a few questions.
Q1). For who?
For middle managers with 10 years of management experience and a track record of acadmic excellence sa well as executing in the real world? Sure. For sharp cocky quick wits who have a knack for multiple choice tests, but have never really been tested out in the corporate jungle? Not really. They would get into an IIM much easier than a Wharton.
Q2). Says who?
Comparing acceptance rates (number of applicants admitted divided by number of applicants) is not valid unless the populations that apply are similar. I'm not asking for rigorous proof here, but come on. We all know that the type of people that apply to a Wharton are very different from the type that apply to an IIM. The comparison of resulting acceptance rates is just not valid. It's like saying that a Suzuki Swift is better than a Benz because the wait on a Swift is longer.
Q3). Does it really matter?
All MBA schools are about 30% education, 30% network, and 40% opportunity to find a new job at a higher pay. So what is really important is, how good are the education, the network you build and the brand value of the IIMs, as compared to the US schools.

So the statement is totally meaningless comparison designed to take a statistic and turn it into newspaper sales. This is what all advertising is about though, isn't it? Getting an emotional reaction out of the viewer and hoping that the emotion will drive sales.

There's other examples too. Some coaching classes were saying on the radio that you should join that coaching class because 50% of the students admitted to IIM had enrolled. What kind of shit-for brains thinks that statement makes sense. If it's you, let me just tell you that if a percentage were to make sense, it would be what percentage of XYZ students made it into IIM. If you buy the logic of the original statement, even with the coaching classes, all you're going to do is pad the IIM acceptance rates even more.

But kind of statistical misdirection works. Suckers get taken in by some numbers, and then they feel a surge of misplaced, unnecessary and false nationalism or civic pride. Get desperate for a better city or a better life, and run to the store to buy some product which will give them only more stress and a lighter wallet. Or they go out and hold rallies and burn public property because of that fucking civic pride.

And I think that's just a little bit sad.

I saw another one, this time with a dude, who was asking "If Sepang can host an F1 race, why can't Bangalore?"
To that dude, I would like to say -
"Are you out of your fucking mind?"
"Can we just finish the fucking NICE road first?"
"Are you from IIMB?"

Maybe Bangalore is just not in my* DNA.

*thanks anon - I hate making these errors, but I guess I'm not yet competent enough to find and nuke 'em all


  1. The last line has "my" missing in front of DNA. And I feel ya!!

  2. I am SO glad you bought this up. We don't need a DNA to exhort us to feel proud to be Bangaloreans with their patronizing crap. For gods sake you want to sell your newspaper, give some respect for our intelligence!