Saturday, August 26, 2006

Hitler’s Cross. Now Shablok’s, too?

Everyone’s cross at Hitler’s Cross. Five mondo honchos of Mumbai’s Pee Three swore they won’t eat there. They’re all foodies, mind you. Were I Punit Shablok, that would have me really, really worried. His reason for choosing for his new restaurant with a hookah parlour attached the name that’s leaving everyone cross-eyed seems to be a convolutedly thought out positional gambit. “This is one name that will stay in people’s minds,” he told Reuters. “We are not promoting Hitler… we want to tell people we are different in the way he was different.” Careful, dude. You don’t want to be different in the way Hitler was different unless you’re ready to be certified nuts and consigned to the snake pit. If I remember my Ries & Trout, the Hitler’s Cross promo task force seems to have applied the Positioning theory correctly. Only the window of the mind they chose to open is the one everyone would rather keep permanently boarded up. What intrigues me is this, though. Why would the Hitler’s Cross promo task force assume that Hitler would be remembered as ‘different’ (‘remarkable’?) by people, mostly Indians, who live and work in the Kharghar neighbourhood or take a detour to the restaurant on their way to Pune or Mumbai? Young people who chose to eat there seemed to recall Hitler as an evil man but didn’t think that was reason enough to deny the restaurant their patronage. Now, that sounds perfectly rational to me. And, totally non-hypocritical to boot as compared to certain politically correct foodie pronouncements mentioned earlier. The Cross(over?) incidence also reiterates the wisdom of the adage that there’s no such thing as bad publicity. Else, could a new eatery in sleepy Kharghar ever aspire to be the irritant in the world’s eye? One more point about Hitler’s Cross is worth noting. In August 1920, the soon-to-be Füehrer was working as an artist and understood the power of visual symbols. He adopted the reverse Swastika from the Finnish Air Force whose military symbol it had been since 1918 and tilted it. “The effect was as if we had dropped a bomb,” he wrote. Shablok could vouch for that, I reckon.

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