First of all, we would like to get one thing straight – this is not us complaining about an event. How a company chooses to present products is entirely its choice, one we totally respect. Secondly, we have a soft corner for Asus – it was after all the first company that got a Windows Mobile Professional device for under Rs 10,000 in India (way back in 2008, and it even had a stylus). And of late, we have been very impressed with the ZenFone 2 and ZenFone 5, both of which we think have played major roles in bringing making high-end performance to relatively affordable devices. Finally, Asus’ executives have always been polite and courteous, and exemplary in their conduct.

But with all that factored in, we cannot understand why the company went for an event like the just-concluded Zen Festival at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Delhi.

zenfone-max

Yes, we know that it is always good for a company to meet its fans and followers – we really wish that sort of thing happened more often, really. But we do not think that doing so from a stage in a massive hall works. Nor does a grand display. Nor even freebies.

For, what wins REAL fans and followers – the ones that don’t simply turn up to whistle and clap at celebrities and for goody bags and a free meal- is good products. And also the little things that accompany them. Courteous executives. Good after sales service. Prompt responses on social networks. People are more likely to say “Buy a ZenFone. It is a good phone with good after sales service” than “Buy a ZenFone. Asus throws impressive events.

The irony? The past year and a half have seen Asus do exceptionally well on all those parameters. The company has come up with some very good products (we at TechPP called the ZenFone 2 ‘the Rahul Dravid of Smartphones’, remember?). Its chairman, Jonney Shih (who was absolutely wonderful on stage, incidentally), told us it had sold more than a million and a half ZenFones in India in recent times. And most reviewers that we know of have an Asus device among their recommended phones list.

So, excuse our naivete, but what was the Zen Festival trying to prove? That Asus could fill an auditorium with cheering and whistling ‘fans’ (pardon the quotes, but some of them were supremely ill-mannered and were no credit to your brand)? That it too could hold a ‘big event’? (did anyone need proof of that? Our, and most consumers’, perceptions of brands are not formed by the magnitudes of events organised by them). No, we are not even getting into the absence of drinking water inside the venue (Xiaomi did that to us at Siri Fort too – what’s it with brands and waterproof venues!) or the fight for goodie bags or food or even the pushing and shoving. We just want to know what it was that you were trying to showcase today in Delhi.

Was it the new products? But since when did THAT warrant a massive hall and a crowd running into thousands? Were you trying to show us the support Asus has? Heavens, ladies and gentlemen, your sales statistics and the strength of your online community speak far louder than any number of mindless shrieks in a hall.

asus-zen-festival

We heard some call it a celebration. We even had some crackers at the end. But honestly, we did not detect too much joy. For far too many, it began with struggling to get into the venue, fighting over goodie bags and being grumpy over food and the absence of “hands on” units. I have no idea what the target audience was. The ‘fans’? Well, honestly, we did not see too many of them getting to interact with the senior staff. The media? Well, we had very limited interaction with the company’s officials and its products – understandable, given the crowds at the venue.

What we did have was some song and dance on stage, some really poor jokes by the anchor (I am sorry but I really cannot understand why he thought that a colleague of ours was funny for having his notebook open during the presentation and for possessing more than one phone), and well, some very good presentations, which were thoroughly disturbed by a celebrity photo-opp. One of the saddest sights at any event is to see people trooping out after the main products have been launched and photographed with a celebrity, paying scant heed to those who still have to perform on-stage – we do apologise for those of our colleagues guilty of this. The sad fact, however, is that by the time Asus Chairman Jonney Shih came back on stage for his “one more thing moment” (when he showcased the ZenFone Max and introduced Zenny the mascot), a lot of the media and fans had already headed out seeking to get their hands on devices and eatables, respectively, we suspect. And had varied success, evidently, for at the end of the day, we had a litany of complaints about people not getting goodies, food, water, transport and a whole lot of other things.

The products launched deserved better.

Jonney Shih (for me the star of the show with his amazing enthusiasm) deserved better.

The team that stood on stage daring people to compare the cameras of other phones with the ZenFone deserved better.

Heck, the adorable Zenny (the owl mascot) deserved better.

Now, we are sure that the decision to hold a Zen Festival was made by heads older and wiser than ours. That said, we are just wondering what it achieved – I am sure Asus will get lots of coverage in the media, but there has been a fair bit of flak flying around too (the perils of a large event). And something tells us that the celebrity, song and dance will match if not overshadow the very good products Asus revealed today. Will the show win you more supporters than a few sincerely written customer recommendations or media reviews? We somehow doubt it.

Asus already has followers (sales of a million and a half confirm it). It already has very good devices. And a very good communications and support team. Did it then need a Zen Festival?


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Editorial Mentor

Nimish Dubey has been writing for more than a decade now (well, Windows 3.1 was around and Apple was on the verge of being finished when he started). He has been published in a number of publications including The Times of India, Mint, The Economic Times, Mid-Day and Femina on subjects that vary from tech write -ups to book reviews to music album round ups. He managed to interview Michael Schumacher once and write two books for young adults along the way.

 
 

9 thoughts on “Did Asus Need a Zen Festival?

  1. Yes the crowd was shit. And the anchor was a stupid guy. Our friend was sitting just next to me who had his laptop on and had three phones out of which he picked up the Zenfone 2 and asked as to why he had those many phones. Made fun of him >___<

    • Agree, I still think that they tried to combine bits of other such events, majorly Gionee for the celibrities while Xiaomi for others. I feel sad for those who wole up at 3 to catch a flight for their event but were not even welcomed.

      • Yup, I was expecting that at least they would respect the bloggers and media persons but no. I was asked for prove that I was from media 2-3 times and then I had to call the PR agency’s executive to tell them that I was from media. I had my card though.

      • Yaah, I’m one among them. Didn’t have anything and well well, I was not even welcomed. So, just did what I was supposed to do, clicked pictures, tried out the phones and left the venue

  2. This is the most appropriate description of the ‘event’ in best possible way. I didn’t quite understand why they called so many college students who are neither the customers, influencers nor they were supervised at the venue and yes it was very cheap when few of them whistled for not the products but for the models presenting them.

  3. The event was poorly managed. The ill mannered crowd i guess they were fans and college guys who came for sonakshi sinha, freebies and food. We the media and bloggers were waiting for our hands on but as soon as we finished our work we went up to eat some food and what we found was that the place was turned into a mess, water spilled on the floor everywhere, no food left. We traveled for four hours to get this? disappointed by the asus management :/

  4. The event was total chaos and commotion. I don’t understand the point inviting such a misbehaved crowd. Most of the girls and boys I saw were busy in clicking selfies or grabbing a goody bags. I managed to grab a glass of water after some struggle. I played a little with Zenfone2 Delux and Selfie for some time and I must say great product quality from Asus!

  5. Mismanaged event, everywhere I could see just some random people clicking selfies and gossiping!! And people were too eager for the lunch and freebie, rather than enjoying the event and doing their job. Hopefully, I didn’t waste time there, tried out the devices, clicked some pictures and left the venue. And by the way, am I the only one who didn’t carry a goodie bag while walking out of the venue??

    • Same here. I went there though BlogMint. I registered on their registration couter after waiting for 15-20 minutes. The lady told me to collect the goodie bag. When I went to collect it, the gentlemen incharge of goodie bags told me these are for media and not for bloggers, so I immediately headed for the hall.

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