Posted by: kcgadiyar | February 12, 2009

Observations during a train journey – Part 2 (of 2): Missionware

Quick Takes:

  • Mangalore seems to be in the news more and more. I liked it better when nothing used to happen there
  • A 25-km beach walk at 5:30 in the morning? Will do. Getting up to do household chores? No thanks.
  • The car festival was totally fun. Caught up with friends I haven’t kept in touch with in years.
  • India win another exciting match. Really people, we will take comfortable wins too, no need to make every match a last over affair.
  • Do they have reserved parking for non-handicap people at the Special Olympics?


While returning from Mangalore, the train journey from Bangalore to Hyderabad was pretty uneventful. One thing I noticed though, was that the 9 people sharing the same bay as me in the train were Me, Dad, a guy from D.E.Shaw, a guy from Wipro, 2 guys from Cummins, a guy from Qualcomm, a guy from Microsoft and an IIT Madras student.

But Karthik, didn’t you say in your previous entry that you avoid conversations with co-passengers, how do you know the companies each person works in? Glad you asked. I didn’t ask any of them, all of this was gleaned from either the T-Shirt the person wore, the bag the person carried or the Jacket they wore. To be fair, I was wearing a Deloitte t-shirt as well.

“Missionware” is the name given to free stuff given by companies to their employees. Stuff like t-shirts, mugs, bags etc. which help to improve the visibility of the company (I heard the term in a quiz once, cant find corroboration on the web, lets just take it at face value).

So, why do so many people prefer to wear company t-shirts?

Well, first off, I think there is a definite ego factor. Like, look at me – I work here. This answers the where do you work question, and you also don’t need to spell out your company name.

There is the superior to thou factor. Look at me – I work Here and you don’t. A subtle game of upmanship, you work at AMD? I work at Intel. The alpha-male syndrome.

The cool factor. Look at me – am I not so cool wearing a free t-shirt my company gave me.

The company loyalty factor – I may not be at work, but my company goes with me.

The number of t-shirts of a company which will be seen is normally based on the brand perception of the company by the outside world. Till recently, Satyam t-shirts were unmissable in Hyderabad. Now they seem to have disappeared. Missionware display is directly proportional to the conditions of the company it would seem like.

The strangest mistake for Missionware happened when I was in Mangalore. Since it was the car festival, most people break out their new clothes while attending the pooja. My cousin turned up in a Saffron t-shirt, and one of my friends immediately asked him “What is this? Did you join the Ram Sena?”. Ram Sena missionware, doesn’t it include pink chaddis now?

Until Next Time,



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