Critics might lash out at the advertising industry however much they want for poor creativity, and it just might be true, too, that Indian creatives have a long to way to go before their ideas are globally accepted and locally loved. But now and then, the ad industry does seem to embrace some trick to make the viewer seek the ad, and flashbacks in celebrity ads seem to the in-thing at present.
Whether it is a 'car-full' of Aamir Khan with his memorable film roles in the Toyota Innova ad or Amitabh Bachchan going memory lane for the Navratan Oil ad or even Shah Rukh Khan gracing the new Lux ad with all his past heroines, using characters that have made a mark on the silver screen seem to be a tac]tic working well for celebrity endorsed brands.
"These three celebrities are among the most expensive brand ambassadors and advertisers are looking for creative ways to make 'paisa vasool'," said Josy Paul, Chairman and NCD, David, who terms this as the 'reverse flick tactic'. "Nostalgia becomes a useful technique. You don't just get the man – you get all his iconic images as well. This way you get five for the price of one. It's simple arithmetic. It's more bang and gang for the buck!" noted Paul.
JWT's National Creative Director, Agnello Dias (better known as Aggi), pointed out, "It is not really a new thing. The same idea was seen in the BPL corporate ad a few years back – again with Amitabh Bachchan meeting all the characters from his past roles. When you think about it, it is an idea that can be used only when it is making sense from the brand involved point of view also. For example, in the case of Innova, that many men can come in one car!"
R Balakrishnan (aka Balki), Executive Creative Director , Lowe, added, "It is a good idea when it has made the ad film more entertaining. People would want to see it again, smile at it and it leaves a mark. I wouldn't term this as a strategy of any sort, but the tactic does make for a good ad film."
However, it comes with its limitation, the most obvious one being that one should be highly selective in its usage. "You can't do it with all celebrities," said Dias, adding, "In SRK's case, it would still be difficult as his roles aren't so different from each other. As for other celebrities, can you do it with a Saif Ali Khan? I don't think so. It gets limited to these stars only."
For Paul, too, this 'blast from the past' cannot really be extended beyond this. Nonetheless, when asked, he suggested, "Maybe in politics and religion!" On a more sombre note he added, "It all depends on the celebrity used. If his past is greater than his future, then this kind of reflective 'rear view' imagery would give the brand a great sense of belonging and credibility."
Balakrishnan felt that this limited usage allowed the brand to stick a little longer in the consumer's mind. "Since it cannot be used as much, it is 'fun' for the viewer and he will remember the celebrity's association with that brand. In most other ads, the creative tries and captures the spirit of the celebrity and why he was brought in the first place and we see ideas after ideas accomplishing this – some don't of course too but this is can be a tactic which has more chances of staying," he added.
According to Paul, "From a viewer's perspective, India just isn't tired of resurrecting her heroes of the past. We do it in our daily conversation. Nostalgia is a romantic hiding place! It gives brands a warm 'feel good' factor."
Creative geniuses internationally and nationally point out time and again at various forums that an ad film shouldn't be an intrusion. In the same line as the popular saying, 'People read papers and sometimes, there is an ad,' today, the fight is about, 'People watch TV and sometimes there is an ad'. Creative minds use various ideas to be that ad and this 'blast from the past', which strictly gets limited to celebrities, seems to be getting its due.
And finally, as to why we haven't spoken about female celebrity at all, Paul offered, "It all depends on the icons you've created. If the female celebrity has many such iconic characters to her credit, then there's a good chance that this 'reverse flick' technique can be useful in the case of heroines, too." Can you think of one?