New Delhi: Saturday is a marketer’s dream.
It is the seventh day of the seventh month of the seventh year of this century: 07/07/07.
Retailers and humanitarians, pastors and tourism officials alike have seized on the lucky numbers to bring them and their causes some luck—along with profits and awareness. Luckily for them (already), the sevens align on a weekend, presenting the perfect opportunity to draw shoppers, concert-goers, even worshipers and lovebirds.
The biggest buzz, of course, has centered around India’s campaign to vote the Taj Mahal into the seven wonders of the world, a process facilitated by the Switzerland-based New Open World Corp. The contest has been planned since 1999.
“The date was picked as it is unique and comes only once in a century,” says Bharat Kapadia, executive director, The Dainik Bhaskar Group, a media company that is a large sponsor of India’s efforts. “Not to mention the fact that it fits right into the seven wonders of the world theme.”
Even Dainik Bhaskar’s sponsorship runs into the sevens. Rs70 crore, that is.
Actress Bipasha Basu will be in Lisbon on Saturday for the official declaration of the seven wonders.
Telcos such as Airtel have been rallying votes through commercials and the promise that the first “vote Taj” text is free; subsequent texts cost Rs3 each.
The craze for all things seven pervades other sectors, too. Arvind Brands’ Arrow line plans a one-day promotion at its stores, known as the “Lucky 7 Offer by Arrow.” Arrow will feature special reduced prices of Rs77, Rs777 and Rs7,777 for various combinations of shirts, trousers and suits. (Wondering what you can get for Rs77? Handkerchiefs and underwear.)
J. Suresh, chief operating officer of Arvind Brands, says he expects a high turnout for the promotion, some five times the usual 30-50 customers per day. Stores will open early—at 7am, of course.
“There is so much noise in the market, marketers have to come up with gimmicks to catch the consumer’s eye,” says Farokh T. Balsara, a partner and national sector leader for the media and entertainment practice of consulting firm Ernst & Young.
But, he says, these types of campaigns are short-lived. As India’s high-technology industry knows all too well, “if ever a date was used effectively for marketing, it was Y2K,” adds Balsara.
Hoaxes and warnings made their rounds for another date last year—06/06/06. Expectant mothers swapped advise on Internet message boards to avoid delivery on the date, while a remake of The Omen, a horror movie, was released at 06:06:06 in the morning. (Not much seemed to happen on 05/05/05 except that Tony Blair was elected to his third and final term as UK’s prime minister.)
But the number seven, everyone says, is different, unique and truly lucky.
Like if the last four digits of your licence plate add up to seven, claims Delhi-based astrologer Suresh Kaushal, you’ll rarely meet with an accident.
Seven is a divine number, he says. He cites the seven swaras, or musical notes. Seven also is the number of Saraswati, the goddess of learning and knowledge. Hindus take seven steps and make seven vows as they wed.
Saturday, too, has been deemed a particularly lucky day to get married; couples who marry on the seventh day of the lunar month, or Saptami, are supposed to be together for seven cycles.
In symbols present in Christianity, the number seven—comprised of 4, representing order, and 3, representing the heavens—signifies perfection and completion, the union between heaven and earth, says Pastor Chadwick Samuel of the New Life Assembly of God in Chennai.
On Saturday, the church of 30,000 members plans an evening of worship and concert. Although the number makes favourable appearances in the Bible, Samuel prefers not to place too much emphasis on the auspicious nature of the date.
“It is easy to remember,” he admits, “It captivates the minds of people.”
Coincidentally, 07/07/2007 is the precise midpoint in the timeline of the UN’s Millennium Development Goals, which focus on reducing poverty levels and increasing health awareness and education.
Seven-and-a-half years have passed since the adoption of eight key development objectives and seven-and-a-half years remain for them to be achieved, says Shalini Dewan, director of the UN information centre in New Delhi. To mark the milestone and retain momentum, the United Nations India is holding a concert of Carnatic violinists and a santoor artist at Kamani Auditorium in Delhi on 07/07/2007. The concert is not to raise money but “to galvanize action and raise support,” says Dewan, as well as to continue the involvement of artists in achieving the goals.
MSN India is promoting and broadcasting the Live Earth concerts being staged around the world, with stars such as Bon Jovi, Linkin Park and Madonna headlining. “Live Earth will take place across seven continents,” MSN’s press release says.
The marketing stunts don’t even stop on the morning of 07/08/07. On Sunday, Boeing debuts the 787 Dreamliner, its newest addition to the 7-series family. Boeing officials, who are off for Independence Day in the US, could not be reached for comment.
And the game of numbers continues next year—literally. The opening ceremonies of the Beijing Summer Olympics are set for 08/08/2008 at 8pm.
As it turns out, the number eight is considered particularly auspicious in China.
(Gouri Shah in Mumbai and Kush Verma in New Delhi contributed to this story.)