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Swapan Seth’s RASS to promote Lisa Ray’s new book Close to the Bone

Seth runs three companies as of now — RASS (Reputation Amplification by Swapan Seth), Luxortium (a platform for luxury brands to meet and interact) and This Content (a digital agency)

In the advertising and marketing tales of yore, never has a book been marketed or promoted with much fanfare. But Swapan Seth’s RASS (Reputation Amplification by Swapan Seth) is all set to change the game. His firm has been appointed as the marketer for cancer-surviving actress, Lisa Ray’s recent book ‘Close to the Bone’.

Talking to about the launch of RASS and its first-ever project, Close to the Bone, Seth is clear that whenever he approaches a business, he asks three fundamental questions. One, what will it enhance? Two, what will it diminish? And three, who or what will it replace?

Swapan Seth

Seth emphasised that RASS strives to enhance the strategic quality of the reputation amplification business. “Gone are the days of silos. Reputation amplification needs to be aligned to a brand strategy which in turn must be the handmaiden of the business strategy. So you need someone who understands all the three aspects,” he pointed out.

What RASS will strive to diminish is the unprofessionalism that affects 90% of businesses in this domain. Typically, reputation amplification firms believe that publication listing, press releases and the guest list for the event is what they will bring to the party. “That to me is rancid ghee. There is a great deal of conjecture in this business. That needed weeding out. Finally, RASS wishes to diminish the lack of fiscal self-respect that this business has spawned. I was clear that I would work with top-dollar brands at top-dollar fees,” stated Seth.

What will RASS replace?  The 'silofication' of the business.  Seth mentioned, “Largely, you don't hear the word ‘integrated’ when it comes to reputation amplification. We aspire to replace that. In conclusion, I am very clear on what RASS will work on. I was never a fire-fighter so no fire-fighting assignments. No corporates. We will operate in the domains of publishing, cinema, programming, luxury, lifestyle, hospitality, healthcare and fashion.”

Why did Lisa decide to hire RASS? “I suppose she best knows the answer. But I can hazard a few guesses. Ray is a global professional and thus is acutely aware of assigning a task to a professional. She knows everyone in the media business. They are friends of hers. But I suppose she did not wish to use that lens. Instead she wanted someone to find strategic legs from the book and connect them to various consumer constituencies,” said Seth.

He added that he may have spoken to Lisa just once and have never met her. But they work seamlessly together. And there is great adulthood in their working relationship.

One wonders, what goes into the marketing of a book? “The very same things that go into the marketing mix of any products. Insights, imagination and integration,” replied Seth, crisply.

But, how is marketing a book different from marketing another product? Well historically, publishing marketing (and understandably) has been short on budgets and has approached a book as one homogenous product. “That is not the way RASS approached it. We broke up the book into pivotal pieces and then used them as the marketing spears, so to speak. Lisa's book is not about her victory over a condition. That is just one aspect to it. It is about loss in love. And finally victory in it. It is about a multi-racial person, India's first supermodel of sorts, our first global actor, a lady in love, a lady finding love and finally, a mother. But above all, an exceptional craftswoman of the written word,” Seth said, throwing light on the book and its contents.

He goes on, “In her book, she says she hates being defined. I suppose she can't. And therefore by extension of that logic, the book cannot be defined either. As the fantastic ad about Paco Rabbane once said, ‘What is remembered is up to you’.”

What are the mediums/ways that RASS is using to promote/market the book, Close to the Bone? Seth mentioned that it is a multi-channel approach aimed at diverse consumers. Ray is a closet baker and acted in a film called Cooking With Stella. And therefore there are interesting acts with Foodhall, another evolved brand. There are interactions at hospitals with survivors who need solace.

The Sea Lounge finds mention in the book and therefore a great event with The Taj Mahal, Mumbai. Calcutta is an intrinsic part of her life. Therefore events at The Loft at Quest Mall and Taj Bengal.

“The good thing is that Lisa never asked me for a list of deliverables. Which means there is no limit to what RASS would like to do for the book. Rishikesh is also a tipping point in her life. Can we look at doing things at Rishikesh? Or may be a book reading for Buddhist priests in Dharamshala. When you are given a free hand, you play your best hand,” Seth concluded.

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