×

Vote Sanjaya! (The Nationwide Ad Campaign)

CAN SANJAYA GET NATIONWIDE ON YOUR SIDE?

Nationwide is on Sanjaya's side. The insurance company is reaching out to the growing number of Americans of South Asian descent by launching a hair-raising commercial featuring former "American Idol" (thanks, News Corp.) contestant Sanjaya Malakar. It's part of the company's "Life Comes at You Fast" campaign, which, in the past, included ads showing Kevin Federline, Fabio and MC Hammer poking fun at themselves. But the Sanjaya ad is the first one specifically targeting Americans from India.

Sanjaya! Back! America is such a great country! You don't need to have any other talent beyond chutzpah and a willingness to mock yourself (plus a lot of hair) to become famous!

The young man, who lasted so long on "Idol's" sixth season thanks, in part, to a campaign by Sirius Satellite Radio fixture Howard Stern to sabotage the show, is thrilled to be back in the spotlight.

Malakar says of the ad (see it on Nationwide's Web site here), "I think it turned out really funny." Nationwide says, "Sanjaya was a good fit." They won't tell us what they paid him.

Now, you probably won't see this commercial on Fox, or NBC, or, well, Bravo (like NBC TV and CNBC, Bravo is a unit of GE's NBC Universal). Instead, Nationwide plans to run it on cable networks like Zee TV, Sony TV, AajTak/Headlines, TV Asia, B4U Music / Movies, Sahara One's Filmy, and Star Plus. Some of you may have never heard of them, but they are aimed at South Asians, and they are rife with great stuff.

For example, I discovered on Zee TV a show called "Waaris," which is "The Sopranos" of India.

It's described as "the story of Rudra Pratap Singh (Ashish Vidyarthi) who is an aging mafia don. He is married to Yashodhara (Indira Krishnan) and has two sons, Shankar (Iqbal Khan) and Shaurya (Yuvraj Malhotra). The story, as the name suggests, is about the search of the true Waaris to the position created by the senior don. I don't know what "the true Waaris" is, but I'm intrigued.

Even better, on Sahara One's Filmy channel, there's a Bollywood trivia game show called "Bollywood Ka Boss." "Try testing your wits against the best of the country as they square off against each other in an intense competition to find that one person who truly knows the most about Indian cinema." !! http://www.myfilmy.com/bkb.htm

But back to Nationwide. The company has created a special Web page which lets you upload a photo of yourself and then mix and match Sanjaya's hairstyles and outfits, creating a "widget" which "allows fans to share their new look with friends and family." Fabulous!

LULU IS A DISRUPTOR!

Thursday I blogged about a book called "How to Date Older Women" from LuLu Press. LuLu says it's not a publisher, but its description confused me: "It's a digital marketplace guided by a vision of empowerment and accessibility, and built on a business model that has proven wildly successful. The rapid growth of Lulu, which is being driven by over 15,000 new registrations a week and more than 100, 000 unique visitors everyday, is built on its proven ability to grab hold of the long tail of user-generated content and provide an empowering outlet for creators of all types."

Reader and fellow blogger Jason Jepson saw it this way:

"It's easy - Lulu is a new economy, not following the rules of an old economy stuck in the rut of actually doing measurable actions like publishing. I think it is also safe to assume that through their unique technology platform and new economy rules their eye ball hang time is just off the charts.

"Because of my ADD my eye ball hang time is not that good. My doctor does not recognize a lack of eye ball hang time as ADD so I am stuck jumping from web page to web page. If only doctors followed the new economy of Lulu (and you thought I would not circle around…. Come on now)."

But LuLu's Lauren Barker wrote me!

"Lulu.com (formally Lulu Press circa 2003), is an online platform for people to publish their creative work, which includes books, calendars and photo books. We say we're not the publisher because we don't take on any of the roles of a traditional publisher, instead we give people the tools that they would need to print and publish their books. Lulu.com, as a Web 2.0 disruptor company, democratized the publishing process and removed some of the barriers.

"Let's take the book that you highlighted today, "How to Date Older Women". While a traditional publishers might not have looked twice at Andy Dolan's book, here at Lulu we don't judge...The great thing about Lulu.com is you can do whatever you like."

Questions? Comments? Funny Stories? Email funnybusiness@cnbc.com