Deepika Padukone flaunting her belly dancing moves for a coffee brand, a sales woman giving condoms instead of change seeing the ‘manly’ cellphone of a customer, Katrina Kaif going all sensuous in her ‘aamsutra pleasure’ for a mango drink, even as a generation fast tracks to the ‘move on’ philosophy…
Gone are the days when the world viewed things only in black or white, now is the trend of seeing the ‘grey area’, make that several shades of grey. There was a time when a Close Up ad, which showed a uniformed officer kissing a condemned prisoner in full view of other officers, had politicians all fuming because of its bold and sensational nature. Today, ‘bold and sensational’ is being seen as a growing trend in advertising.
Quite like Bollywood, which no longer shies away from the ‘A’ tag, it is a coming of age for advertising too. A girl telling her parents that she is interested in girls and not boys no longer results in raised eyebrows.
But brands like Nescafe and Mango Slice going the ‘bold’ way – is it stretching things a bit too much? Nescafe’s catchy ‘Open Up’ song with people enjoying their cuppa in different ways is still fresh in mind. And where is the place for sensuousness in a sweet mango drink like Slice?
On the other hand, brands like Fastrack and Virgin Mobile have gone the ‘Bold’ way right from the start. Given the youth TG, it makes sense for these brands, but a small schoolboy boldly asking ‘doon kya?’ would probably make quite a few cringe, so what if at the end of the ad he innocently asks ‘kya loge, blue, green…?’ indicating his pack of Parle Poppins.
A never ending debate
Sharing his views on this, Rahul Jauhari, NCD, Everest Brand Solutions, said, “I wouldn’t call them bolder. I don’t think today’s youngsters call it bolder. They probably think it’s okay, since they typically consume a lot more ‘bolder’ stuff in day to day life – be it in terms of language, movies, lyrics, dialogues, storylines. Advertising largely is still very sweet, coy, nice. Bold advertising depends on brand, product, age group, many things.”
Citing some examples, Jauhari remarked, “Hard-Rock Café’s clientele is very different from an insurance company’s clientele. Their pitch to consumers will vastly differ because of the nature of service/ product they provide. You can’t paint them all with the same brush. Ethical? It’s a never ending debate.”
“Virgin is bolder. Aamsutra is bolder. Lava Mobile (girl offers condom instead of change) is bolder. It often depends on which brand is making the statement. A Lava doing this may be acceptable (they are new and need to be noticed, hence, the bolder approach); an Airtel doing the same may not. Virgin, by virtue of the character and tone of the brand, can get away with stuff many other brands cannot. As long as the ‘boldness’ stems from the brand, it’s okay,” he explained.
Jauhari further said, “As far as national television goes, GECs are as national as a channel can get. If you see the kind of programming they are shelling out, many ads will seem like kid’s stuff. Finally, advertising done in good taste is easily consumed. Stuff created for cheap thrills and stunts is ephemeral – comes today, goes tomorrow. Smart guys think long term, not short-term.”
Dheeraj Sinha, Regional Planning Director, Bates 141, the agency for Virgin Mobile, said, “Bates has worked on the Virgin Mobile ad, which is bold and connects with today’s youth. Today, youngsters do not believe in ‘log kya kahenge’ anymore; the values are still there, but they believe in doing what they personally feel is right. We do not see a ‘Mogambo’ anymore in movies, it is the protagonist who has a mix of positive as well as negative traits. However, boldness should not be depicted just for the heck of it. Urban youth brands are the ones that go well with the ‘bold’ concept, but it should not just be for sensationalism. I really do not understand why a saleswoman would give condoms instead of change in a cellphone commercial.”