Narratives are going bold and spunky

The brand narratives seem to be finding their mojo again. Myntra and Titan are pushing the boundaries of narratives, the India Today Television channel launch campaign poked fun, the Salam Bombay initiative was a wakeup call. But what got me stumped was a campaign for a milk brand.

Anouk, the private label of Myntra, had three long format brand narratives, with three different insights on today’s women. Today’s independent minded women can have a child and not tell the world who the father is; can go to a bar and enjoy the company of herself; can have her own sexual orientation and be proud of it. The ad with the lesbian relationship got billed as “India’s first ad showing lesbian relationship” went viral with rave reviews. The other two, to my mind, had stronger narratives paled under the shadow of ‘bold’ themed ad. Finally, fashion brands are shedding conservatism and stepping into themes that truly represent the youth.

Advertising narratives sometime back were bold, the movies bolder. Virgin Mobile had a same gender take almost six years ago; HT had a hint of it five years back; Fastrack’s come-out-of-the-closet was brave. For the last few years brands seemed to have gone coy, till Jabong had its take on the Rainbow Girl in a matter of fact way. Myntra pushed the narrative more and built a mushy tale of love, sharing and seeking approval.

The overwhelming reception makes one thing clear: the audience is ready for consuming brand narratives that are bold, contemporary and provocative. From Deepa Mehta’s Fire to Kangana’s Queen, movies have been doing it. The current Anouk campaign’s two films are almost like small slices of the movie Queen.  I wish the brands built narratives on more themes that are not so straight and boring. Like in the HDFC ad, the daughter bought the car for her father, bring those emotions back and the brand will become worth being a friend with. Over the years such appeals have remained far and few, chances are it may not remain so now.

The Salam Mumbai initiative to fund the girl child’s education is clever and bold. To push the issue in the face of those who may look to recruit them at a future date is very involving. Philanthropy is not a mass act in India, and is often driven by apathy. Often the narratives get preachy when we have to break the apathy. The commercial does not preach and that is where it wins. Coming at the same time as Anouk, it deserves as many eyeballs and loosening of purse strings.

Titan celebrates the coming of age of rebels, those who quit their jobs to chase their own dreams. Start-up guys are the hippies who are leaving behind the rigidity of well-defined social structure to start a parallel world. For the rebel to go to his grey-haired boss and hire him without being cocky is a winning take on time. The whole setup is finely crafted, the dialogues are sparkling and the TVC leaves you with a happy feeling. Titan does well to get younger, contemporary and stay fashionable without being aggressive and abrasive. It was very easy to fall in that territory, given that some of the success stories of start-up world are like that, perceptually.

The India Today Tekevision channel launch campaign on radio and outdoor is very much like what the brand says: Circus is Over. The entire campaign is built upon centricity of one anchor and one channel. In being centric on one channel it does lose out on taking the entire world of English news channels. May be that was by design. Had the campaign taken on more channels, the circus would have had many more acts. The campaign could have generated far more traction. The early numbers suggest that the campaign has been successful in grabbing viewers’ attention. The true test of the campaign will be to see how it evolves if the numbers don’t hold.

The strangest that I saw this week was the Khmer Rouge inspired take on fear and how a milk brand can help you overcome it  Debate on the series of ads raged from being really clever and cutting-edge in craft to being completely inappropriate for the category. The conversation on the Ads of the World Facebook page is clear that it is inappropriate for the brand that has released it. It would be interesting to hear what you think of the ad. How about tweeting your views? #myopinion and tell me what you think.

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Original post appeared here

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