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IMPACT Annv Spl: Kiran Khalap on 7 memorable press ads

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IMPACT Annv Spl:  Kiran Khalap on 7 memorable press ads

In order to come down to seven memorable ads, my own brief is first: Memorability, metric for this is- if the ad has found a home in the most expensive real estate on earth (i.e. my memory!) for over ten years, it must be included; second: Efficiency with the metric- if the ad can drill a hole in my brain with less space than most, it must be more efficient than most and third: Simplicity with the metric- can I replicate it on a Post-It? I am combining the three criteria of my brief (all self-imposed of course!), What I have done is recreated the ads from memory...on Post-Its! There are only two that I have downloaded from the net, because the visual wasn’t as easy to replicate for me. Here we no particular order!

Alok Nanda, then with Trikaya, wrote this 30 cc ad. It asked for baby models and was targeted at mothers... though every male worth his salt read it too. A classic.

Everybody from Jerry Della Femina to John Hegarty believes modern advertising started with Bernbach; especially with the incredibly witty Volkswagen campaign. I chose this over the famous “Lemon” ad from the same campaign because the headline needs no further explanation. Imagine the ugly duckling of a Lunar Module with spread-eagled legs on the moon’s surface, and the simple understatement in the line takes on greater significance!

In 1995, when I visited Cannes for the first time, I was pleasantly surprised to see this tiny 20 cc ad win an award. A broken match stick, with just three words and a phone number below it! Unforgettable.

My partner at Chlorophyll, Anand Halve, wrote the theme line for this campaign: “Sunday ho ya Monday, roz khao andey” in 1988. The line was predominantly exposed on TV. The press advertising, though, had the unmistakable stamp of Muhammad Khan. (What you see is the banner on the NECC website, being used even today!) In this particular press ad though, I enjoy the multiple layers: the egg is mother Nature’s breast...but hey, it’s actually meant for a grown-up mother who is meant to feed her child!

Earlier, The Economist ads were long-copy ads...then somewhere along the way, David Abbott of Abbott Mead Vickers struck this rich vein of intelligent, short headlines that capture its motto: “To take part in a severe contest between intelligence, which presses forward, and an unworthy, timid ignorance obstructing our progress”. This particular ad seems even more relevant to those advertising and marketing firms that believe they can survive on vapourware:-)

My father was a commercial artist with Metal Box. For him the annual CAG exhibition was a touchpoint of excellence in commercial art. Every year, I would accompany him to the Jehangir Art Gallery. I still remember this ad for Maharashtra Bank from a CAG Annual: it was created by the legendary writer and art director Arun Kolatkar. Jalebis on Day One, peanuts on Day 25? Brother, why not learn to save? Twenty-five years later, I had the privilege of working with this genius... and he launched my book of fiction!

My last choice is not even an ad, and the magazine it was created for was not even published! Herb Lubalin was a legendary art director in the 1940s; but he was more famous because he “used his extraordinary talent to transform words and meaning, and raised typography from the level of craft to art.” ( For me, this logo communicates more than an entire press ad can: all the tenderness of a mother just through an ampersand!

(Kiran Khalap is Co-founder of Chlorophyll Brand Consultancy.)


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