AdStand: Comparative Advertising: Daring and Dud

Advertising on most days is a fairly boring job. As people working in advertising, crafting promise for brands the everyday currency is consistency. Brands are about saying the same thing in multiple ways across multiple media channels.

Communication plays a key role in creating a competitive advantage for the brand. Done with right values and creative proposition it helps consumers make informed choices.

Once in a while though advertising adds a dose of excitement to the brand by getting competitive. This is when brands go hammer and tongs against each other, call each other names and often force the consumers to take sides.

The fair question to ask is this: why do brands no do this often? Even better, why do they not do this all the time?

The answer to this is complex, but often the simplest answer is that consumers get bored of a fight quickly and engagement with the brand can drop off fairly quickly.

Last month we saw three brands taking pot shots at the competition.  One was really daring, the other was a dud. But the wider question remains, can comparative advertising be the long-term strategy for brands? Can it be made to work?


The Daring

There is a brand of motorcycle that is known by the thump-thump sound of its engine. It‘s an iconic brand of cruiser motorcycles with almost a cult following. Bajaj Dominar threw the gauntlet mocking the slow, raw, complicated nature of the bike in its new TV commercial, comparing the competing bike to keeping an elephant as a pet. Stated in Hindi, it’s a euphemism for something that you buy expensive, you maintain expensively and has very little utility value. For an upstart brand, this was a daring move, a move that was designed to polarize the views of bikers. The entire conversation around the communication in social media points to two things. One, it got a lot of eyeballs for Dominar. Two, Royal Enfield, the brand Dominar, mocked carried along like an elephant, unfazed. It didn’t even bother to respond.

Now did Bajaj give a backhand compliment to RE? Did it add to the legend of RE?

Maybe the next move of Bajaj will tell us where the whole battle is going.


The Dud

Jeep launched its smaller (not small) SUV Compass to great fanfare and a stunning price point. The market lapped up the Jeep with open arms, swelling the turnstiles. Jeep has a big hit in its kitty.

Not one, but two brands went against Compass with tongue and cheek ads.

First, Tata Hexa a newly launched SUV from Tata stable went building appeal by saying Hexa takes you anywhere and you don’t need Compass. The two brands actually may not be targeting the same driver. Hexa is raw, more brawn and meant for the those who want a tough SUV. Jeep Compass is way too urbane and refined and appeals to a very different mindset.

The second brand that went paying a backhand compliment to compass was XUV 500. “You don’t need a compass to win races, you need guts,” said the advertising. XUV 500 is more in the same space as Jeep Compass and maybe they had a reason to react, but then they could have reacted like Jaguar and Merc went up against each other. That is the kind of fight that adds to the brand’s mystique.

The conversation on social media indicates that both brands helped Jeep more than take away from its appeal.

If the communication was addressed to ensure that the appeal of Jeep gets muted than the advertising didn’t hit the bullseye.


The Sublime

The brand that has elevated comparative advertising to an art form is Burger King. Burger King’s fight with McDonald’s is legendary. There are hundreds of lessons that brands can learn from how Burger King attacks McDonald’s to sell more. They do this with intelligence, they force people to take sides and they do it with a very well-defined sense of humor.

Very few brand will have the ability to create a product like McWhopper and ask its prime competitor to make peace with it for just one day. The consumers enjoyed the fight, they laughed, and they took sides. Burger King even got McDonald’s to react.

Burger wars are far bigger today than the erstwhile cola wars and Burger King is the sole warrior. Somehow it ensures that consumers take sides and enjoy the whole saga.

The point is simple; if you have to go to fight with your competitor, make it worth the while for consumers and dint leave it as a conversation between two marketing departments.

There is always a phone for that or Whatsapp.


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AdStand: The diminishing power of impulse buying

Online shopping has changed many things. Things are available all the time, at the click of button and delivered instantaneously. This has killed the spontaneity of shopping. Earlier the brands used the point of payments to sell mints, razors, batteries, and in India candies. Even otherwise the joy of discovering something that wasn’t on the shopping list and buying it was an important part of the shopping expedition. Many a times consumers did pick up brands that they didn’t expect to buy on a whim and categories benefited from that behavior. With smart algorithms, shopping tips from the sites and suggested things to buy, the power of impulse has started to go down sharply.


 Shopping is now a lot about Like and Tags and Shares

There is a new filter that consumers now apply to shopping. This filter is of likes they will get on social media or the shares and comments they will have once they buy the brand. For instance the reason to buy a new cellphone is often how the circle of friends will react to the post and very little about how ‘I’ would feel about using the product.  Gaining approval and exerting influence are the new reasons to buy a brand and this is the factor that brands have to now factor in their communication strategies. Even trivial choices like the food to eat or movie to watch needs a pre-validation from friends and social circles. This is the new currency if digitally connected youth as digital conversations get ingrained in their lives, and this is where the influencers take over and impulse steps back.


Is trust then a big factor?

Trust is the result of impulse. While it sounds like trust and impulse don’t meet, this isn’t true. Most path-to-purchase start with impulse and repeat buys makes the impulse into habit. Its habit that eventually leads to trust. We trust those brands that we either buy often or we intend to buy in future. With new social buying driven far more from social pre-approval, the comfort of looking at the brand that is used by many stops becoming a motivating factor. In the digital scenario trust is really about fulfillment and not about usage experience. With a favourable delivery experience and acceptance from social peers, the whole trust game takes a new angle. This is a huge challenge for brands as poor delivery experience impacts the brand and not the site that delivered it, but a good delivery experience impacts the site and not the brand that was ordered. Brands will have to rewrite their strategies with trust becoming a less potent force to drive brand loyalty.


So then can brands be really single minded?

The diminishing importance of impulse is also diminishing the need for brands to be single minded. In the era of media proliferation brands pushed the same message across multiple channels to build same impression in minds. Has this started to change? In the earlier era of broadcast, it paid to be single minded. In the era if personal media, it pays to be intrusive.  If the message is not intrusive, the chances of it not being consumed are very large. If we look around, the biggest brands are not really single minded. Apple, Google, Amazon are far more than just one thing. They have crafted a wider narrative to overcome the pre-approval mindset of consumers. As the brands proliferate and media becomes personal, brands have to become more intrusive. Is the intrusion crafted with a single minded feature or a host of cleverly created connected features will be the difference between success and impending doom


Marketing theories in 2017 will need new editions, and some of it is a function of new consumer behaviours. Impulse is diminishing, the need for brands isn’t

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AdStand: A Demonetisation chaotic week and a few ads

Rarely a week will have as much action as this week has had. Post Diwali, the action normally slows down, everybody catches their breath and prepares for the wedding seasons. Brands jump from one offer to another. The week after Diwali this year will be remembered for long. First for the act that made people learn a new word  “Demonetization”.  Second for a rather improbable win by Donald Trump in US Presidential Elections. Two acts that created a tsunami on social media in India.

But Diwali seems to have happened in a distant past, it’s a hazy memory. If Diwali money is a key symbol of Diwali, then money unfollowed Diwali this year.

This week though, a small throwback at a few ads this Diwali, not from advertising perspective, but from depicting relationship perspective and a look at a category that can become mainstream.


Progressive and regressive on same screen

Ariel’s #ShareTheLoad campaign has been getting tremendous applause. The realization of the father that he could have imparted correct values makes the ad forward looking. In a context like that to come across the 2016 Diwali ad of LG is like travelling back in time.

LG’s 2016 Diwali ad is a range commercial that showcases Refrigerators, Washing Machine and LCD TV. All of this is showcased within a single home with a large extended family. The entire narrative is centered on the woman of the house. She is a mother; she works hard and chases success. But then the commercial takes many steps back. It links happiness to gadgets at home, which parents have bought for her. The husband then comes and announces in a grand fashion that the woman has been promoted from ‘wife to life’. There cannot be something more contrite than this rather silly portrayal of husband and wife relationship today.

If LG went back to 70s Star Plus and Colors TV tried hard to become contemporary. The Mother driven identity in Star Plus brand campaign was a nice touch in a largely patriarchal country. Colors too did well to celebrate the lady of the house by asking family to declare Sunday as holiday for her too. I only wish that the new brand communication also had resonance in programming on both channels. The disconnect between the brand and its advertising is stark and creates a contra experience. Yet it needs to be lauded, for the both brands dominate the popular programming and have an impact on popular culture. May be the two brands are launching a new set of shows that are true to the progress the advertising depicts.


Cash crunch and rise of wallets and PayTM crisis

The Government seems to have a sense of time. On 8th November at 8PM the Government opened up a very large window for the mobile wallets to become mainstream. The 8PM opportunity is really large and the wallet brands were alive to it. Next day all newspapers across the country has almost all the wallet brands releasing full-page ads. PayTM, India’s largest wallet and FinTec startup even put the PM in its ad congratulating him on “the boldest step in the financial history of India”.  This did raise eyebrows in social media as people wondered if it is ok to use PM in a private sector brand ad. Technically the image of PM can be used, if the brand is authorized by the relevant authority, I am sure PayTM has the permission.

All the wallet ads were more informative asking people to sign up to tide over the immediate cash crisis.

PayTM, early this week released two ads featuring an electrician and a domestic help asking their employers to ‘stop the drama’ and do PayTM. The ads created the Snapdeal moment for PayTM. Social media went up in arms against the insensitive nature and some even uninstalled the app.  The uproar on social media was so strong that PayTM had to withdraw the ads and modify them.

In normal circumstances the ads were fine, they had a hyperbole that delivered the brand’s message. But in times of charges atmosphere where the whole context has created two camps, the TVCs became a tool in hands of both sides. Two factors went against the commercials. One the TVCs seemingly took the side of Government’s move by hinting that the inconvenience people are facing is Drama, and the other was the slightly condescending tone of voice that created a sense of elitism. Sharper crafting of relationship between the employer and domestic help might have avoided the backlash.

What was impressive was the speed at which PayTM reacted and owned up the criticism. Hey did lose a little faith, but I guess gained back a lot more. The smart thing was that the CEO of PayTM was leading the conversation and apologized to everyone who disliked the ad.


Should brands take a break from advertising?

This is a tricky question. This much is clear that trade has dipped in last week. With cash becoming scarce, the brands are not moving off the shelves. Should the brands reduce the intensity of their ads or should they hope that next morning will be a better morning and they should continue to engage the consumers?


There is no parallel to this move. There are new lessons to be learnt here. While there a new category that seems to have found its tipping point, the relationships that brands depict need to stay relevant

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Adstand: Adidas, Snapdeal, and the power of human potential

This week, three campaigns that celebrate the power of human potential, one in real inspirational sense, the second in pure commercial sense. One celebrates the power of human endurance, the urges the audience to enjoy life and unnox their potential. One works brilliantly, the other sounds like a dose of advertising. The two commercials have broken almost at the same time, may be that speaks a bit about the context of the times we are living in. Then there is a Tanishq commercial that too leverages this very context.


Adidas salutes the epitome of human determination

At the heart of the commercial is a simple tale; we make shoes that are odd. Two rights or two lefts for people who have lost one limb. The tale though is not told simply, its told with a huge dose of inspiration. The story of Major DP Singh, who is India’s first blade runner and who runs marathon is raises Goosebumps. The ad begins narrating the familiar thinking: if a man has lost his limb, may be its time to relook at life, may be cut back on physical activity. The narrative goes on to tell how Major Singh refused to be cowed down by being odd limbed and how he redefined his life. Adidas has woven a tale of grit and determination and human endurance in a very inspirational way. The narrative never becomes overtly commercial; the brand doesn’t become larger than the runner.

Adidas has done very well to showcase the power of human potential by saluting Major DP Singh.


Snapdeal’s Unbox Zindagi is trying too hard

This week Snapdeal unveiled its new identity, new brand positioning and new campaign. Splashed across all the front pages of newspapers we now know snap deal has turned into red box. This is an interesting evolution for a site that still in its name has the word ‘deal’. The brand has moved away from instant choices, attractive prices, and emotional anchors to someone who delivers a red box to your home. I am not sure if the transition from the place where you find the best for your life to the place that delivers is fundamentally evolution of promise, its more like sideways movement.

Then the brand goes on to build “ is a bold and modern symbol of India’s audacious aspiration that our brand seeks to enable. Our symbol is so much more than a box; it is a representation of untold potential and possibilities.”

In the desire to define a wider purpose for the brand, what we get is a load of advertising hyperbole. This advertising hyperbole has met with lukewarm response across the social network, and this s what makes the brand lesser about human potential and more about selling commercial dreams.

Snapdeal wants to become embedded in every Indian’s everyday life, something that cannot be achieve by saying it in an ad campaign, no matter how many celebrities it signs up to say so.


It is not easy for brands to tap into the wider human potential stories. The danger of becoming overtly commercial and losing the wider narrative is real. That is why gems like Adidas Odds move people and inspire them to push and make themselves better.

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Brand Wagon: Sports is the new context

Every 4 years we as a country ask this question:

Why can’t we win medals in Olympics?

Why as country we do well only in cricket, is cricket the reason that we don’t do well in Olympics?

Why cant corporates put in money as they put in Cricket?

Eventually the clamour dies down and we carry on enjoying cricket and now a variety of sports that are beyond cricket. Hockey has seen a revival, Kabbadi is being watched, and Badminton gets people to stadiums, even Formula 1 got people excited and drove them to racetrack.

The fact is India loves sports more than cricket. Cricket drives people, and is the most popular sport. Cricketers are used by the brands because they are recognized. Constant TV coverage makes them well known and that makes it easy for brands to use them.

No corporate participation?

But the corporates and brands are investing in sportsperson beyond cricket, and that is a wonderful thing. Take Olympic Gold Quest, the not for profit organization that has been working with some of the most promising athletes of India, giving them support, training, nutrition and kits. PV Sindhu, the Rio Olympic Gold Medalist is a part of Olympic Gold Quest. OGQ is the power behind 5 Olympic Gold Medals, 2 Silver and 3 Bronze.

Jindals have invested big in sports with JSW Sports, this year at Rio they scored a Bronze with Sakshi Malik in wrestling.

There are more corporates including the biggest names like Tata are involved with athletes beyond cricket.

This is an interesting conundrum. The corporates have opened up their purse for athletes other than cricket. Indians, on occasions when the athletes have competed have cheered them, rooted for them, and made them a part of their lives. Yet the broader marketing communication has not seen too many non-cricket celebrities being used as face of brands.


Brands have not been indulgent

There has been an Abhinav Bindra that was signed on by Samsung after his Gold Medal in 2008. Saina Nehwal is the face of Savlon, Iodex and Fortune Cooking Oil, but this is where it stops. Un each of the three brands she is the super performing athlete and each ad makes a strong impact for the brand.

Why is it that the brands have shied away from using the non-cricket athletes as brand endorsers? The simplistic answer may lie in the fact that these players are still high performing athletes and are not stars that public wants to mimic. The other reason may be that these athletes are backed by organizations and brands that are not in consumer spaces. OGQ has no products to sell. Mittal Champions Trust had no battle of market share to fight, JSW Sports works towards making the corporate a better neighbour.

Its easy to rope in a film star

The mainstream brands in India are too focused on either the film stars or the cricket personalities. Even Nike, the partner of OGQ, when it did communication to celebrate the athletes of India, it used Dipika Padukone as the lead and not the 6 athletes who should have been the face of the brand. Celebrities are used by the brands to gain quick awareness, but Nike as a brand has been all about sports and the brand would have done better showcasing the women athletes and letting Dipika be a part of the mix.

BMW signs up Sachin as the face of the brand, and then gifts the BMW to medal winners at Rio. Clearly in BMWs scheme of things Sachin is a better salesperson for a marquee car and that BMW is better off gaining some fame by just gifting the cars to the winners. What if BMW had signed up either of the three or all three as the faces that drive the brand in India?

Brands take easy way out

The Nike Da Ding is just a small part of the problem. Brands believe that the easiest way to gain a million plus views on a video is by using a celebrity. In India there are only two kind of celebrities: Film Actors and Cricket Players. Sachin sells BMW, Kareena sells Jaguar. May be both have limited impact on final purchase decision.

Sports Authorities need to look beyond

This year we had a film star and a cricketer as the brand ambassador for Rio Olympic. The public hue and cry and rejection of the two choices is a clear indicator that consumers want to look beyond the conventional stars. Its time the sports authorities broke the mould. Abhinav Bindra, Gagan Narang, Saina Nehwal, Vijender Singh, Yogeshwar Dutt, Karnam Malleshwari are perfectly capable of firing public imagination.

Its time we as the country started to celebrate our heroes. Its time our brands looked beyond the usual celebrities.

The consumers are ready, its time the brands shed their resistance.

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AdStand: The Campaign that People Own


Olympics at Rio is over, India won two medals, both by women, two athletes finished fourth, one of them is a woman.
The nation erupted in joy w hen an unheralded virtually unknown Gymnast, Dipa Karmakar became the first woman Gymnast ever from India to represent India in the sport and marched into final. She missed Bronze by a whisker and we all know the emotional support the nation gave her
This was topped by Sakshi Malik who won a bronze in Wrestling. PV Sindhu then made it an Olympic to remember by winning Silver in Badminton. Sakshi became the first woman wrestler to win bronze and PV Sindhu became the first Woman Shuttler to win Silver. History was made at Rio. History was made by three women.

The spark of campaign
It is difficult to pinpoint where and when the campaign started. It definitely started on Whatsapp as countless forwards that people get. The ‘forwarding economy’ was at it very quickly and in no time there were forwards about how the unwanted girl child have saved the blushes for the nation.
This quickly became a firestorm across social media with memes, status messages and tweets, all about how it time for India to pay attention to its daughters.
The messages have not stopped even now with more and more people sharing the messages

The first publicly owned campaign of India
The brilliance of this campaign is that it is not even a campaign. No one owns it, no one is creating it, and no one is propagating it. The public outpouring of the sentiment seems to suggest a overwhelming change in the attitude of the country on girl child. The absolute voluntary nature of the campaign seems to be an indicator that there may be small, but there is an aperture of change that exists in the society about the attitude towards the gild child.

No brand could have done this
I haven’t seen a brand capture popular sentiment like this campaign has done. No brand could have delivered this message, not with this compounding power, not with this intensity. This is the power of forwarding economy. People joined hands, found interesting things to share, joined the conversation and sent a message for change.
Is there a chance of change?
If the power of sharing economy is on display with this campaign, so is the weakness. There is a good chance that people actually buy into the cause, but there is a good chance that they move on to a new issue and forget about this issue. This is what happens in true mass participative events.
Yet there is a good chance that this campaign will spark off some change in a few people’s mindset. For a issue that is deeply rooted in our psyche, the desire for change is not externally manifested. It has not been pushed as sermon from the authorities; it has not been pushed as a tearjerker from a socially responsible brand.

In future we will see far more such publicly created and fuelled campaigns. Campaigns that will have far greater power to change the contours if the society.
We as a country have not won many medals at Rio, but the two that we have, can change some deep-rooted societal issues in India.
That is a far bigger victory

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AdStand: The Traffic Jam

There is something about failed urban infrastructure and brands. They spot opportunities in that failure and create memorable award winning work. Like the Ola boats that were pressed into service by Ola during Chennai floods. Or the lifeboat that Aircel hangs on outdoors in Mumbai and Guwahati.

Last week saw similar urban infrastructure failure in three major cities of India. In Bangalore it rained so much that people caught fish in roads. In normal days, Bangalore is not the fastest moving city, in rains it did struggle to move. In Mumbai it rained so much that streets became river. In Gurgaon it didn’t rain so much, yet the traffic jams lasted 20 hours. This is possibly India’s longest traffic jam.

Does the urban failure open new opportunities for brands? Can new startups look at this craft new services?

Here’s what is possible for new enterprising people to look at.


Hyperlocal can be powered by Hyperjam

Technology allows mobile phone to read the location and connect with phones in the same location. Imagine if the phones of fellow drivers are connected to one another in traffic Jam for them to have conversations. Imagine group Selfie in traffic jams, or discussion over state of roads or even connecting with cars and bikes that are way ahead in jam to telegraph to people who are behind. Traffic cops can even moderate the conversation by being on platform. Next day as and when the Jam clears brands can offer special deals to those who braved the failure of authorities and reward them for their suffering.

One thing that these apps can do is map the potholes and give it a geotag. If integrated with Google maps, the driver will even get a fair warning of impending bumps and breaks.


Food, Fuel and Breaks

There are many opportunities for startups here.

First, there can be an army of drivers that can sit-in and brave the jams instead of the poor souls who are going to or coming back from work. The owners and passengers still may have to brave elements to do something else, but they can at least forget looking after their car or bike.

There is a huge market for delivery of fuel to cars and bike that may run out of fuel standing and waiting in the jam. Imagine never having to look at the dipping needle of fuel gauge. The cars are connected with the fuel delivery service through an app. The app reads the geo location and automatically sends a delivery drone.

Third idea is a food delivery idea. Standing in jams for hours sure is taxing. Last year in one such long extended jam, I asked a pizza delivery brand if they will deliver in a traffic logjam. The person who attended the call was game to do so, but didn’t have the means to reach the car. What if this can be solved by people on foot or cycles, they dodge and dash to reach you. The delivery brands can geo tag the locations of order and find a way of reaching you. This is a big market waiting to be exploited as stranded in traffic is normal everyday affair in urban India. There is a company in Indonesia doing this, its time we did it too.

Fourth is to help the stranded drivers to take bio breaks. Does this need an app? May be it does, after all there has to be an app for everything in this world

The concierge service

Getting stuck in a jam and missing out on urgent things is now a real issue. Jams appear from nowhere, cannot be predicted and mess up best laid plans. Motorcycle riders who you can hail stuck in jams who deliver your documents, and packets in times of need are waiting to burst at the scene. A host of concierge service can be launched targeting just the guys stuck on road.


Carmageddon is here to stay

There is no escaping crushing jam that brings speed of high flying urban dwellers to a grinding halt. It dies open a slew of services that can be delivered to the sufferers of Carmageddon. Special spa treatments, food menu inspired from jam, special fashion line that helps alleviate the side effects.


Failure of urban infrastructure does lead to new categories being created. The current failure of urban infra is of epic proportions. May be there are series of apps that can be launched to save us from Carmageddon







AdStand: Does Honesty Work

Two campaigns this week have been the most talked about campaigns of the week. Both have been blazing away on social media. Both have had reactions of bewilderment. One is for a leading telecom brand, the other for a brand of cables that makes fans. Honesty is a difficult virtue in both categories, lets look at what they are doing


Airtel’s honest campaign

Airtel has run a sustained campaign building itself as India’s ubiquitous mobile telephone network. The 4G girl has more followers on social media than many brands. For that brand to release a campaign that says “all networks are same” is a fairly brave move. It on one swoop has done away with all the muscle it built and goes lean.

Aitel has released full-page ads across the country promoting its open network initiative. The TV campaign builds on the usual lament of consumers, poor network, poor reception, call drops etc. These are complaints that all network operators face. The commercial then becomes an extended product demonstration of what the tech backend is, how the network operates, how the towers can be seen or not seen. This is how brands used to do product demos in past, Airtel has rediscovered it. The campaign offers no solution to the problems, it seeks participation from every subscriber, it hopes to solve a problem.

The campaign has stirred the hornet’s nest. There are comments on both sides for the campaign. Early comments (possibly seeded by brand) seem to indicate that the campaign is loved, but the later comments are all about how the network is dysfunctional. Either ways Airtel has succeeded in generating interest in how it runs the brand and acknowledges the problems the network faces. The campaign is possibly more of PR campaign, but does have an honest undertone. That is a radical departure from the 4G girl campaign

The Fan and rocket science

There is a very famous brand of cables that has just launched a range of fans. Chances are you have caught this really over the top long film about space station, about mom’s love and about pickle. What has it got to do with a fan? Almost nothing or everything. If you get taken in by the over the top narrative then everything, if you look for logic then nothing. If you haven’t caught the ad either on your social feed or as a whatsapp forward then here it is:

Building a narrative for a category like fan is not easy. If the aperture of evaluation is honesty then fan ads will be mundane, boring and utterly forgettable. This is a category that needs a slightly involved storytelling. Creative license is not a bad thing to use to craft a tale. In that narrative there has to a modicum of product truth. In crowded categories completely suspending belief gets chuckles, even memorability but not intention to buy

Finolex has a bizarre tale of mom’s love, pickle, space station, anti gravity, scientists, politicians, socialites, news anchors and even a loving servant who sings lullaby. How does all this work for a fan brand? It whips a tornado that makes a man fly to space. Escape velocity finds a new meaning in this TVC


Honesty and brands is not an easy thing to marry. But in today’s persuasion economy, consumers do look for a certain sense of brand truth. Airtel has made an interesting use of honesty, may be it works better then hyperbole of fan that induces tornado and servant who sings lullaby.

Original published here:


AdStand: The Public Service Ads

This week, the 11 minute anti smoking commercial has been making all the news. There was another ad that caught my eye. It may not have been the Internet sensation, but Brooke Bond Tea’s new ad is certainly worth applauding. Surprisingly this film is not on their social pages, but uploaded only on Kulzy.

The film ( opens on blank screen with noises that we hear everyday in Mumbai, honking, trains, and wedding. It then shows an old women sipping tea all alone on her rocking chair. The ad extolls people to go and end someone’s loneliness this weekend. The film is singular in building on the brand plank of Taste of Togetherness. Brooke Bond for some years has been building on the plank of bringing people together and this film takes that plank forward in a cheerful way.

Old age loneliness is a serious problem in a young country like India. I hope we see more of this from Brooke Bond and not wait till the next award season.

Alok Nath, Sunny Leone and Deepak Dobriyal have an indulgent anti smoking tale to tell. At almost 3.5 Million views in a week, clearly the star appeal of the actors has helped in the film becoming a super hit.  The comments across online forums suggest a warm welcome being given out to the film.

Is the film successful in pursuing smokers to kick the stick?

The film follows the usual narrative of smoking kills, this is known and most smokers know this. The claim of cigarette reducing life has now jumped to 11 minutes, how does this pious number come in being is left unexplained.  Is it 2 minute? Or 4?,Now it is 11. If a smoker gets into calculating the time left to live, they will laugh it out.

I think the film misses out on the wider narrative. While the netizens have been effusive in praise, there have been very few that have pledged to quit smoking, just a few who have thought of doing so. This is where the film could have had a deeper impact.

Why is the film not ending with a platform that helps people helps quit the habit? Why is the film not helping them taking the first step?

Why is the film not connecting those who quit with those who want to quit?

This is where the film could have risen to greater heights.

That leads me to the wider question: why do anti smoking campaigns generally fail? The answer lies in many behavioural studies done across geographies by many academicians. These studies are in public domain and are a wealth of insights. The basic thrust of most of these studies points to one factor. Anti Smoking campaigns stigmatize smokers, and while it may motivate a few to quit smoking, to a vast majority it makes them angry, resist the message and isolate themselves. This makes them light up the stick more then quitting the habit. Death is not the promise that motivates them to quit. Could the 11 minute long format narrative move beyond death and be in positive space? May be there is a next version coming.

The third TVC to catch fancy is Ariel’s Share the Load. Father has a moment of enlightenment when he sees his daughter balance home and office by being at two places at the same time. Father’s decision to correct his own mistake and share the load of housework with his wife is told with sincerity and humility. The brand could have become even more enduring if the final payoff was not just sharing laundry, and the product integration was a lot more muted. In its own archive, Ariel has a TVC where the husband does the laundry to win wife’s love. Kuch pane ke liye kuch dhona padta hai. This was before the social media became the force that it is today. This commercial was even more sensitive and loveable than Share the Load one.

Tea, detergent and anti smoking are three very disconnected categories to come across socially appealing narratives. Brands should continue to do this irrespective of timing of award shows. 

Original published here:

2016: Crystal Gazing

2015 was the year of mobile. There is no part of life that is now doesn’t have an active involvement of mobile phones. For many generations, newspaper was the morning habit and TV the evening habit, this has now changed. The day starts with mobile and ends with mobile. It doesn’t matter what brand or make or OS you have on phone, what makes a difference is the apps that people have on phone. The millennial who started, as extremely aware and opinionated kids are now the drivers of mobile age

2015 was the Ante Mobile year: the year mobile changed everything.

2016 then may be called Post Mobile era

Here is what I think the future may hold for 2016.

Social Networking will move to messaging apps: The hottest social networking place will not be FB or Twitter or Insta or Snapchat, but would be Whatsapp, and may be Hike, Line and Wechat. Whatsapp is already mirroring numbers of FB. What this will mean is that organic growth activity will die completely and brands will have to find intrusive strategies to speak with audiences. On the flip side, social networking will become a lot more about friends and a lot less about likes and followers. Broadcast based social networks will become one segment, participation based messengers will become the other.

Moving picture ads will see a transformation, they will find newer platforms to play on a mobile device and not just live on TV. The ability of the story to engage with audience on social platforms will define how the ads are crafted for TV. Moving picture ads for brands may become more participative or more interactive. Snapchat and whatsapp have a good chance to become the new TV station of your mobile.

Brands will actively repackage themselves to become chat worthy. While consumers will continue to buy regular household stuff regularly (even that has become tech enabled with Amazon Buttons), most indulgence or long purchase cycle driven brands will find newer ways to connect. This may mean fashion closets in hotel rooms to candy packs that make phone recharges happen. Digital graffiti will be the new indicator of pop culture. Mobiles will make consumers multitask every moment and drive the feeling of time poverty even more.

In the after mobile world, the old format of advertising will have to find new methods of engaging. Two things will happen. One the ads will have to be more intrusive for the short attention span consumers. Two the ads have to have multiple contexts, local contexts will help the brands connect better. In the Ante Mobile world brands used languages to be closer to consumers, in post mobile world hyper local contexts will drive communication.

The last of the possible trend in post mobile world may come as a bit of surprise, I expect people to have lot more friends in real world. Mobiles will play the matchmaker and make people physically meet each other. In the Ante Mobile world, networks allowed people to stay anonymous, in the new Post Mobile world; anonymity will be a barrier to status. Anonymity will be shunned and mobile personal social networks will drive societal status. This would be a radical departure from Ante Mobile age

The Post Mobile age has dawned, and 2016 will be just the start. I am not saying that all of it will come true exactly the way I have predicted, but they may move in this direction for sure

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