Over the last decade, marketers have had to unlearn and re-learn the art of marketing as consumers have emerged from an “era of scarcity” and evolved into an “era of surplus”. Not only has the world been inundated with a host of parity products, services and ideas across a range of business categories but, more importantly, with each one of them trying to out-shout the other, the only natural fallout is a cacophony of brand noise.
So, in this new world order where consumers are vocal, spoilt for choice, control freaks and where platform agnosticism is the norm, it has become incumbent upon marketers to re-frame their brand communication such that they not only attract audience attention but also retain and engage it sufficiently to pass on the brand’s message. This has required the conventional 30-second spot, which originally focused on brand attributes, to evolve into a story-telling approach that is not limited by its duration – can be a long two-minute story or a series of short 10-seconders – but, essentially is one that is credible, immersive/engaging, refreshing, social and also touches people’s lives.
More importantly, in India, ads need to speak of more than just the product; they must express the audience’s articulated as well as unarticulated feelings and thoughts that they would have wanted to share with society, their relatives or their loved ones. As such, the content architecture of our ads must transcend mere rationality to include emotionality, intelligence as well as humour. The Fevicol ads, my all time favourite, suggest that they caught on to this imperative many years ago.
The following TV commercials (in no particular order of preference), I feel, are truly memorable:
Idea “3G Pe Busy”: The biggest Indian problem (that is, population explosion) gets married to the latest mobile technology (that is, 3G) concocting an ad with a twist of humour. The Idea 3G ad is all about how our population can be curtailed by 3G as couples are too engaged and entertained by Idea 3G. Moreover, it also highlights the very peculiar issue of lack of electricity that may have hampered other mediums resulting in couples having nothing else to indulge in, which is easily overcome by the fact that this is a mobile technology that does not need to be plugged in, thereby ensuring uninterrupted entertainment. Sharp, funny and irreverent (with an inside joke about Abhishek’s expected child), this is one ad that simply communicates the core proposition and in a manner that connects with the ‘aam-aadmi’.
Surf Excel “Daag Acche Hain”: What truly impressed me about this commercial is that for a cleaning detergent to say ‘stain is good’ is in itself a huge marketing leap. It is bedrocked on the age-old principle of getting the consumer to consume more of your product. Also, the creative rendition takes this excellent thought one notch higher by telling tales through the eyes of young siblings. When the kid sister trips into a puddle, the brother – in an effort to pacify her – beats the puddle and, in doing so, he messes his white uniform. But, with his sister happy, he does not mind it and hence, the thought “Dhag Acche Hain”. It’s fresh, an endearing story that brings a smile.
Tata Tea “Jaago Re”: ‘Wake-up’ these words have inspired revolutions, unambitious teenagers, lost souls and of course, tea drinkers. Tata Tea’s ‘Jaago Re’ campaign merges the basic promise of tea which is to ‘wake people up’ and connects the thought to a proposition that is much larger than life like “waking up your conscience to your responsibility to the country”, thereby making it a more meaningful cuppa.
Naukri “Hari Sadu”: Telling the “boss from hell” exactly what you think of him, is every harassed employee’s sweetest dream. Another great example of catching onto a very basic reason for people quitting jobs which is, more often than not, the boss. So, a thought that most people can relate to and very creatively expressed. Also, the ad created one of the most unforgettable names – Hari Sadu – in the advertising lexicon.
Tata DoCoMo (Keep it simple silly): The brand takes the coolest youth icon and makes him a whole lot cooler by giving him the role of a stand-up comedian. The ‘Keep It Simple Silly’ campaign (nice way to call competitors ‘stupid’) with Ranbir Kapoor rides on the current wave of stand-up comedy to humorously promote tactical brand offers and propositions which come across as being some of the simple things that consumers want and Tata DoCoMo is able to provide. A series of absolutely refreshing and crisp ads make the campaign truly engaging and ensure that the brand proposition is not lost in the tongue-in-cheek creativity.
Cadbury “Shubh Aarambh”: For years, soul-mates have been found at bus-stops. To take this clichéd meeting place and turn it into new love story is what Cadbury has managed to do with its Shubh Aarambh ad where a boy asks a girl for bite of her Cadbury saying that before doing anything good, we must eat something sweet. The girl, having offered a bite, asks what good work he intends to undertake, to which the boy answers that he would like to drop her home. Sweet, funny, and certainly a fresh intro line for all the guys... It’s as smooth as the chocolate.
Airtel “Har Ek Friend Zaroori Hota Hain”: This ad captures the basic intent of people using mobile phones, which is to connect with friends and family (that is, people who matter). It reflects this underlying message by showcasing a series of interesting situations, where friends come handy and how the cellular service is the hero in getting them through those situations. The cellular network naturally blends into this musical collage, which hums of feel-good advertising. Communication between brands and their consumers have never been more active and engaging...
(Joy Chakraborthy, Executive Director, Revenue & Niche Channels, Zee Entertainment Enterprises Ltd.)