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In advertising, spoofing is goofing, say creative bigwigs

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In advertising, spoofing is goofing, say creative bigwigs

Spoofs are meant to drive in the fun element, and they do attract eyeballs. But do they have a long lasting effect in the mind of viewers? Creative bigwigs in advertising think otherwise. On several occasions in the past, those brands that have resorted to making spoofs on their competition have been fairly successful in grabbing attention, at least for a short span. With the recent release of the Kurkure Xtreme and Kinetic Flyte commercials, it seems that the trend of spoofs in advertising has taken off again.

PepsiCo’s snack brand Kurkure Xtreme hits directly on Thums Up, a product of the Coca-Cola Company. What is interesting here is that the two brands are not competitors, and it is apparent in this case that PepsiCo has used the Kurkure brand as a tool to bolster its rivalry against Coca-Cola. Now how far can this affect Kurkure’s personality and image is yet to be figured.

KV Shridhar (Pops), National Creative Director, Leo Burnett, is of the opinion that each time it is aired, the Kurkure Xtreme commercial unnecessarily reminds one of Thums Up. “Now this is something which backfires as a strategy. It is a good thing for Thums Up here since it is being remembered by consumers each time the Kurkure Xtreme commercial is aired,” he said. Pops further explained that just like a small kid who passed a funny remark or did a mimic to make people laugh, small brands could afford to take on big brands on similar lines. “Once the kid grows up and continues to do such acts, it is natural for anybody to react negatively,” remarked Pops, pointing to the adverse effects a big brand could have in case it decided to indulge in spoof ads.

Even for a small brand, it is important that the spoof commercial be humorous, witty and such that it can be remembered for a long time. Ravi Deshpande, Chief Creative Officer, Contract Advertising, strongly believes that a brand cannot be built on questing the competitor’s credibility. “If a brand’s existence depends on constantly questioning other brands’ communication or credibility, then it’s a stance you take for that matter. If that’s what your style is, and that is how you sustain competition, then it is a different thing. But I genuinely think that it becomes really difficult for brand managers to build brands of quality,” said Deshpande.

Deshpande cited reasons on why brand managers gave a nod to such spoofs, in the very first place. “The real intention here is to ride on the success of the other brand. Just because a particular brand has done a good job in executing a fantastic idea, and then working on similar lines by creating a spoof shows the lack of creative ideas in the industry.” Pops too agrees to this point. “I think it’s a serious problem for the industry. These are signs that people are running out of ideas in the industry, and thus people are desperate to get the attention of consumers by creating spoofs,” noted Pops.

Agnello Dias, NCD, JWT, felt that attacking with spoofs was not very important as usually such things ended up as fights between marketing teams, resulting in less focus on brand communication. Dias recalled the spur of ads released by Sprite and Pepsi. He explained, “Sprite had a puncture strategy when they took on everybody and for no rhyme and reason. And eventually, they have had to change their strategy. Some truly evolved brands like Lux were brave enough to spoof their own advertising – with Shah Rukh in bathtub – thus loosening up the brand and making it more human and emotional, with great success. But spoofing other ads only works for television content to my mind.”

Dias further explained that agencies should not look at spoofing specific brands; rather they should look at spoofing different genres.

The much talked about new Kinetic Flyte commercial mocks at Scooty Pep, and officials from Publicis Ambience claim that the commercial gave out a unique message. Prasanna Sankhe, NCD, Publicis Ambience, who is the creative director of the commercial, said, “I think the new Kinetic Flyte commercial has a very strong message for our target audience. It says that the modern girl is not cute and bubbly anymore; rather she is confident, ambitious, smart and bold. I agree that the commercial does speak about Scooty Pep, but that is how we planned it. The commercial is very much in sync with the brand personality, and I disagree to the general belief that such concepts and ideas don’t build brands.”

The general industry perspective is that making spoofs on competition was not a very good idea for brand managers to look upon, particularly if the brand was of a high stature. Though most creative heads from the industry believe in such a concept’s ineffectiveness, they also opine that such spoofs would continue to appear in future. The logical premise of such a predication is that with lack of creative ideas combined with a strong desire to attract eyeballs, small brands and their creative agencies are most likely to continue working on creating spoofs on competition.


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