Sharma overall advertising spending climbed about 10

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offset contracting markets elsewhere -- are sending out armies of salesmen like Mr. Sharma. Overall advertising spending climbed about 10% in India last year. Rural advertising grew at more than four times that rate. The standard procedure for Mr. Sharma starts with kowtowing to village elders in order to get permission to set up his mobile stage and to try to find out who in the village has money. He then rouses the villagers. He used to walk around with a megaphone announcing the show, but dogs chased him. Now he drives around in his truck with the music turned up or hands out candy to children, asking them to bring out their neighbors. One recent afternoon in the single-road village of Benipur (pop. 5,000), he opened the back of his truck to reveal a stage, speakers and bright posters. The village is a sandy strip of one-story houses and simple shops, most of them brick but a few made of mud with thatched roofs. The road up to the village is flanked with carefully constructed 10-foot towers of cow dung, burned as fuel for cooking and heating. Trucks, tractors, scooters and herds of goats slow as they see the stage. A curious crowd grows. The music starts. Mr. Sharma shouts into the microphone. "You have to sacrifice so much in life, but these Nokia handsets have all the extras," he says, waving his hands. "Nokia makes life easier." He pulls barefoot people onto the stage and quizzes them about the product. When they answer the questions correctly, they get a Nokia keychain in the shape of a guitar. Two other performers do a skit mimicking characters from a popular Hindi film.
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