Brother why would you need a cellphone one performer

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"Brother, why would you need a cellphone?" one performer asks as he passes the only microphone. "To flirt with the most popular girl in the village," comes the answer. The crowd giggles. As Mr. Sharma pitches, village life goes on. Next to his truck, villagers pump water from a well. Across the street, a couple of farmers shoe a horse. Two cows, unmoved, stand across the street for the whole show. The crowd is all male. And the men push to get closer to the stage, laugh and shout answers to the questions. Mr. Sharma uses a flip chart to demonstrate how to dial a cellphone, put names in the contact list
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Page 2 of 2 2009 Factiva, Inc. All rights reserved. and change the ringtone. The 30-minute show brings in three handset sales. Mr. Sharma has been working the circuit for five years for Linterland Rural Communication, the rural outreach company connected to Lowe Worldwide, an agency owned by Interpublic Group PLC. He earns about $350 a month, a higher-than-average rural wage; less-experienced salesmen take in $200. Selling in the village takes a lot of interaction -- but not too much. Mr. Sharma and the salesmen for Unilever soaps and skin creams talk to women from behind flip charts so there is no direct eye contact that could offend the menfolk. "It's the men, not the women that get upset," says Mr. Sharma. "Usually a husband or brother stands nearby and asks all the questions, even for women's products." Mr. Sharma's favorite promotion is a village version of "American Idol" that Linterland developed to promote Close-Up toothpaste. Every village has one or two great singers, he says. "They just never get a chance to
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