Wednesday, May 8, 2013

The Garbage Post: On Advertising And Marketing

Warning: This is a useless post. Only enthusiasts and people with a lot of free time can bear to stick through it.

On multiple occasions I have been told by my mother that when I was little (around three), I'd enjoy watching advertisements more than movies or television series. She says I'd cry if someone changed the channel while an ad was on.

Now obviously it's nothing. I probably preferred watching the ads over movies/TV shows because they often had a song to them and movies/TV shows must have been complex/boring to me at that point of time but I kinda see what my mother means when she brings it up. I chose the right field to work in.
A couple of years back when I was sorta offered an internship under the guy who created the banned Amul Macho -Ye To bada Toing Hai ad, I really felt close to that image of me crying when my brother would change the channel to let's say the Zee Horror Show or whatever.
It's only fair to mention here that I did not try for that internship and I don't even see myself making ads as such but I still appreciate a good ad film and I still prefer it over the universal crap aired on our Hindi channels anyway.

In the recent past, I spent a substantial amount of time watching television and I couldn't help but notice some of the ads were actually really good. This post is going to segregated into sections and is going to talk about some cool Indian ads I saw over the past one year.
Also, a little bit about branding, marketing strategies and packaging.


1. Short Ads

These ads are short, to the point, funny with actors who really nail it. Often these ads promote a single service by the company and make the same point in all it's variants.
  •  Vodafone - Made For You Offers

Very cool ads. They make their point, are funny and can easily be appreciated by one and all.

  • Aircel - Thoda Extra

I love these ads. I think the actors really make these ads just too cool to watch.

  • PNB Metlife - Be Double Sure

Some of the very refreshing and funny ads.

  • Tata Sky - Poochne Mein Kya Jaata Hai

I am not sure if Tata Sky has been doing too well for themselves or if they like telling the whole story but their ads have always been long.

Here is an ad just to show you how far Tata Sky can go to make an ad/a point.

  • Seagram's Imperial Blue Superhits Music Series - Men Will Be Men

These ads are the HaHa ads. They are sometimes sexist, they are sometimes rude, otherwise cruel and just downright funny. Anyone with a sense of humour will really love this series.

The first three are really cool. The last three, well, they just complete the series.
  • Go Ibibo - Better Safe Than Sorry

Not too funny but not too bad either.

2. Kids In Ads

I am not sure if this is true but I have noticed this pattern in the recent ads. Ad film makers are using children in their ads. Yes, this makes their ad cute and likable but there's more. These kids are not really kids, they are adults but using the product/service makes them feel like a kid -carefree and happy. Basically the product brings out the child in them adults.
Here are some ads that exploit this concept. Sometimes it really works, sometimes, not so much.
  • Flipkart

Now these guys are really just trying to bring the concept of online shopping to the Indian crowd but they've gone ahead and achieved awesomeness. I don't like kids being cocky, I don't like kids trying to be cute, but the following ads are pure humour. I especially appreciate how the kids are not exactly the Indian definition of cute (read as: ad worthy). They are not white with pink cheeks and red lips. They brown and chubby with black hair and they have the right attitude. Go Flipkart.
Love the tiny sets!

This kid is crazy. Mr. Impatient is one of the coolest ads ever.

Then of course, the latest ads on how to impress women: Flipkart's Fashion Has A New Address.




Apologies for obsessing over these ads but you have to agree, they are funny!

  • Kuoni Flight (With SOTC)

Makes sense, cute kid, nice images.

  • Parle Agro Mango Frooti

This ad is refreshing. Shah Rukh Khan is not obstructing the view with his flaring nostrils. The lights look great. Nice details.. just an inch away from getting gross. The kids are hip and urban but retain their kid-dom. The drool falling off the sardaar kid - very cool, the drool falling off the other kid - not so cool. The song is catchy (is a mix of n number of languages). In my humble opinion, I think it's the only memorable ad for Mango Frooti.

  • Allahabad Bank- Net banking System
Unfortunately they could make a decent ad (with borrowed inspiration) but these old school guys don't have their ad film on Youtube. Anyway, here's the gist. Children riding tricycles, talk with voices of adults (just like Flipkart) and they appear carefree say the Allahabad internet banking has made life easier for them.
Yeah, I feel pretty bad they don't have the clip online. It was their best ad so far but more than that, it would have added to my list here. Damn.
  • Diaper Ad
There was this diaper ad which used the same concept only the other way round. The diaper is so comfortable that the kids turn into adults. I can't seem to find it by the tags I am using and I don't remember the brand. Would be great if one of the readers could help me out with the name. 

3. Ads With Songs

Create a catchy tune and you're a step closer to creating an ad that's going to stay in people's mind for a long time. If it follows a little story, very cool and if that story is nice, well, way to go. This section is going to follow ads that have a tune inside them.
Repetition is a good idea but not if it's
Honey Bunny or Dil Jumping Japang Jumpak Jumpak.

  • Parle G - Roko Mat, Toko Mat

Anybody who has seen this ad knows what I am talking about.
One, Gulzar wrote the lyrics of the song, two, Piyush Mishra gave it his voice. The ad makes use of real looking Indian kids doing cute things, absurd things. The look is kinda old school (might remind you of the film Masoom). Parle G has been saying that G in their name, stands for 'genius' for a very long time now but this time they are trying to make a point while restating that idea. The point being,
kitaabon ke baahar kitaabein bahut hain (trans: there are books outside of books).

  • Cinthol: Alive is Awesome

So Cinthol changed its brand identity in 2012. Thumbs up!
Their new avatar is one that takes into account the adventurous youth.
You can't just change your brand identity randomly. It's a process that involves a lot of brainstorming. A change in a company's identity means a change in everything they were. Yes, Cinthol's packaging has undergone a serious change too. Their products' new look is worth appreciation. More than that, I am sure in a country like India, they could have gone on with the way they were and survived for another few years. This change wasn't necessary but they did it anyway. Thumbs up again.

This is the ad that brought this change to the public eye.

English Version:

I obviously prefer the Hindi version:

Also, a Telugu version is available.

Cinthol, these days (actually, it's Godrej's spirit, they're on a roll these days. I will discuss that shortly) is rising, especially now that their brand ambassador is Virat Kohli - India's very own young adventurer. He too is seen doing a lot of ads these days. His Cinthol ad as such is lame but what the hell, alive is awesome, I guess. Also, thumbs up for Virat Kohli's pout towards the end of this ad. Haha.

  • ICICI Bank: Jab Mile Kucch Unexpected

I think this ad was loved by everyone, all around, in general. It's just so likable. A little Kashmiri girl buys toffees only a daily basis from a grumpy old man until the day she brings her younger brother/little friend along but they have lost their money on the way.
This is the right kind of emotional ad. Instead of exploiting an insecurity or preaching callous people what it means to care, this ad touches the heart by simply telling a story. The song is a crucial element in this ad. It's a sweet sounding Kashmiri song and goes incredibly well with the whole look and feel of the ad. Hukus Bukus.

  • Priya Gold Snacker

This ad is irritating and the reason is because it was on every other channel after every five minutes but here's the thing, the song sticks to you. Apart from that, worth appreciating is the fact that of all the brands that exist, Priya Gold came up with something like this, something so youthful, stylish and vintage looking all at the same time. I don't like this ad personally but I think it did bring the brand to light.
It's like how Spice phones were considered cheap, lousy and uncool before they came up with this ad.
I think no one wants to own a Spice phone even now but you get what I mean, right?

  • Fanta - Orange Bubble

Animation and rhyme is a good combination.

  • Blackberry Z10 - Built to Keep You Moving

A very good looking and stylish ad with cool music to it. The Blackberry Z10 ad is the kind of extravagant ad that goes unnoticed because Indians like a story that invokes emotions but personally, I find this ad really cool.

  • Windows 8 India Launch

The dancing appears flawed and unfinished, the Windows 8 new tiled look, however, seems exciting but what really gets me going about this ad is this unheard of song called Daav Laga from the movie Aage Se Right that plays in the background while two good looking people dance to it in a somewhat cool and otherwise unrefined style.

  • Blue Star AC

Another cool and musical ad is this one from Blue Star. Pretty funny and likable but I'd appreciate it more if they were using real words/sentences and if the lip movements did not appear so obviously random. Then again, I guess when it's good, it's just good.

4. Miscellaneous  

  • Godrej - Zindagi Muskuraye

Coming back to what I said some lines back, Godrej is really ruling the advertising scene these days with Aamir Khan doing the work for them in a lady's costumes just like he's done for so many other brands. The ad didn't make much sense at first but eventually everyone realised what these guys are doing.

The Godrej - Zindagi Muskuraye is a series of nine ads with three characters, Aamir, his friend- Sam and Meera, Sam's wife.
The series builds a little story where Aamir meets his newly wed friend Sam to both congratulate him on his wedding and befriend Sam's wife, Meera to nick out certain character traits for his new role as the modern Indian woman. That makes for the first introductory ad and the rest of the eight ads cover little details about their comfortable urban lifestyle and the exchanges between these characters that in one way or the other discuss the uses of various Godrej products in each ad from the series.
Aamir Khan is known to do things out of the ordinary to promote his films, his ads are eccentric and bursting with energy. Even when he's serious, the style doesn't seem to fade. Remember Satyamev Jayate? Whatever he does, is an effort to push the boundaries. The Godrej ad is just another one of his many ninja projects, I guess.
Guerrilla in nature, this ad will certainly appeal to the young hookah smoking junta, English speaking aunties, Aamir Khan fans and in general, fetch the attention it sought out to.
Very cool, Godrej, Aamir and team.

 5. Guerrilla Marketing

Unconventional, cheap and often attention worthy marketing strategies have been employed by various firms all around the world but in India it is still a new concept.
Anyway, remember the red, post potty hand washing soap Lifebuoy? Well, those guys did something really cool some months back.
Lifebuoy's potty washing image had been put to bed long ago when Lifebuoy came out in more colours, different fragrances and agendas some years back. Soon they were fighting germs alongside Dettol and also poking fun at them inconspicuously  and sometimes, not so much.

First Page of Sunday Times

Anyway, whatever the case, it is clear, Lifebuoy is trying harder, creatively. Their ads sometime create an emotional ruckus (while creating an awareness) with good filmography and sometimes exploit children's weakness for seemingly supernatural liquid handwash and then again sometimes, something much grander like this marketing strategy right here.

I think the ad above explains it all but I had more questions to it.
What was the motivation?
Business or public service/awareness program?
A good financial decision or a bad idea?
And in general, just more details. When/how was the idea first conceived, were there any objections about it's impractical approach, how good was it as marketing idea and so on and so forth.

One of my friend works for Lifebuoy and he was kind enough to answer a few of these questions.

Here's what he said:
The idea was to make use of the vast congregation of soap users (which was approx equal to the population of Mexico) in a very concentrated location (approx the size of Mexico City!). Given that Kumbh is anyways about bathing, it makes all the more sense to do publicity around soaps. Now, we could have gone the traditional way of putting banners and hoardings - which we also did - or try something new.
While thinking of something new, we realized that all these people would also eat. And given that we have a social mission which highlights the importance of usage of soap before hand washing, it gave us the chance to remind a large population to start following this habit - in a creative way.
Which is where the roti idea came upon.
Stroke of genius of a guy who works for Lifebuoy.
As far as the scale etc. is concerned, the opportunity itself was so large that the scale had to be. Still, all this is a fraction of the spends that Lifebuoy does on an annual basis (several hundred crores!) on advertising and promotions.
So, though it may seem a large investment to you, it was actually very viable on a "cost per contact" criteria.

Well, I think it was a great step and I am sure many companies are now going to step out of their comfort zone and get a little Aamirsque in their advertising style.
Way to go, Lifebuoy. If you guys keep this up, Dettol's serious image is going to be in serious trouble.
Not that I am stating a bias here, I am just saying that smart advertising is a great marketing tool and can turn out to be a great game changer.


As mentioned earlier, Cinthol has undergone an identity change for which it had to change it's appearance too. Their packaging has changed and yes, this change is a good one.

Apart from Cinthol, I like the Dove Elixir bottles. It imitates the style of luxury products.

Kareena Kapoor is the brand ambassador for Lakme's make up products and its Eyeconic range was not so bad. Packaging is below average but the look is nice.

The Lakme Absolute is a range of more expensive make up products from Lakme and its look does compliment the idea behind it.


Anyhow, these are just some of the things I noticed while watching the television.
Idea - Telephone Exchange, Mirinda - Paagalpanti Bhi Zaroori Hai, The Hindu ads (Satire On Parliament, attack on The Times of India etc), Oreo Ads (with uncool kids), Incredible India - Colourful Madhya Pradesh (Rang Hain) and many more did not make it to this list because well,  I didn't want to put them here.