Cover-ing the thrill through the red spectacles

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red-spectaclesOne of the greatest moments for me as a journalist was when I saw my name scriven at the head of the cover story. It has been a month now and believe me, the word I would use for the experience is simply ‘titillating’. The mystical bond between man and machine can only be understood by a guy, more so if the cover story is about speed, thrill and the brim of luxury and recherché, yes the Formula One, doubtlessly the fastest and most expensive sport in the world.

In an attempt to do just a simple marketing story on the sport in India, turned into a deep dive of the motor-sporting world and the brands associated with it. “Negative Story” was somehow not my forte, but “critical” being  ‘Off Track’ was still something that would have let me die in peace if the world would have ended on the 21st December. Well being a journalist and not a sales person, my conscience wouldn’t allow me to tell you to pick up a copy and go through it, but since I am in the marketing fraternity where sales plays an important role I would urge you to.

One of the unexampled experiences that I gained out of writing the cover was to be present a day before the Grand Prix at the Buddh International Circuit. Well 70 per cent of the credit would indubitably go to my magazine and the rest 30 per cent to my finesse as a person who takes networking seriously. Fortunately, I was invited to join the MD of one of the largest recruitment firms who had partnered with a Formula One team. It was a prodigious moment when the president of the team gave us a personal tour of the ‘Pit’, the garage and made us see the ‘Pit-Stop’ rehearsals. Tire change and refuelling in under four seconds was something that I had only seen on television.

Rendezvous with CMOs, Brand Managers, Corporate Communication Heads and Media and Planning Agency experts was the next step, to acquire what in Hindi is called the ‘Nichodh’ of the system. Phenomenally, as cool as it sounds, interacting with the title sponsors, sports agencies and partners was truthfully onerous. Just like the BIC (Buddh International Circuit), my tempo of information gathering and compilation was more like the scud on the 16 different sharp turns before hitting the speedy stretch where the top speeds hit more than a 300 kmph mark.  The R&D (which is a classy term to use) that went into making the cover story, I thought would be like a ‘Pit-Stop’ but eventually was like the wait at one of the ‘Picnic-Spots’ for an F1 car to zip by.

The design of the cover, the imagery and the purport was thought out sketching on the back of my notepad during an official meet. During those 10 days, it was as if nothing existed for me except see the story cross the finish line and the invigoration from my editor was all that was left for me to now see the speedster cross the black and white check flag. 4 AM and the cover had been completed, tables, charts, columns, interviews, industry data, profiles and pictures, it was like designing a car for a ride to be remembered. The feeling of holing the edition with the cover I had materialised and the 15 pages of furnished confabulation was like sitting in the cockpit of an F1 car and holding the $ 40,000 steering wheel with the alchemistic hi-tech buttons just ready to hit the flatlands of the circuit.

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