AdStand: When brands break walls

We live in strange times. The times where the leader of the free world wants to build walls and the brands from the same free world break the walls down. The war between the political brinkmanship and brand statesmanship has never been so stark as it has been now.

Whoever thought that there would be a time when the leader of men will become jingoistic, small minded and tight fisted, and purveyors of transactions will become global, large hearted and celebrate the human diversity.

The chaos started with Donald Trump banning refugees from six predominantly Muslim countries from entering US, in a clear act of religious discrimination. The backlash against the executive order was massive from the public and from the establishment too. The courts stepped in and within 24 hours, the travel ban was put in limbo. The massive backlash from ordinary Americans and from citizens of almost every country gave brands the fuel needed to create messages of unity and celebrating diversity.

 

AirBnB released its ad on Superbowl to make a simple point: The world is more beautiful the more you accept. The entire copy of the ad — “We believe no matter who you are, where you’re from, who you love or who you worship, we all belong. The world is more beautiful the more you accept” — is a powerful statement against what the political powers to be have made the country out to be. The #WeAccept campaign is an evolution from the film they released last November.

Coke dipped back into its archives to pull out an ad from 2014. America the Beautiful spot starts in English and then the verses keep flowing into multiple languages, including Hindi and Arabic and various others.

The ad from Coke was very polarising when it was aired last. The reactions this time too has been sharply divided for both the commercials. While many hated the commercials, many more loved not only the message but also the bravery of the brand to take sides and be more than just a brand, being politically correct with the timely message.

This is where both Coke and AirBnB score very big, they refuse to tow the middle of the road line and are aggressive in displaying their progressive (and some may even say correct) side in the current scenario.

Leo Burnett’s #ReverseForKindness is the most insightful piece that I have seen recently on the culture gap and human diversity. The simple act of writing English like Arabic, not left to right but right to left, creates a strong impact. The underlying message that the directional way of writing language does not change the way of expressing thoughts is very powerful. In these times where the leaders of nations are busy dividing people, this is a powerful message of unity.

These brand messages are the real positives in these troubled political times. In India, brands rarely display their political belief. They stick to the middle of the road acceptable protocol of messaging and almost never live on the edge. I am not expecting brands to jump into the fray and start to display their political leanings immediately, but being culturally sensitive and having a contra point of view is not always a bad thing for brands.

With a small dosage of hate come a large dollop of admiration and a long lasting memorability.

Add some admiration to it too.

Original published here: http://bestmediainfo.com/2017/02/ad-stand-when-brands-break-walls/

AdStand: Branded Diwali

Diwali is great time for any brand. This is the only time when Indian consumers happily open up their purses, heartily shopping for brands across spectrum. The social media has become the platform for people to even announce what they bought, with people posting pictures of crowded markets, crowded malls, traffic jams and all the bargains they located. For the consumption society, Diwali is perfect festival; it’s a five-day long shopping festival with days dedicated to categories. There are auspicious reasons to buy bullion, buy clothes, buy appliances, buy sweetmeats, buy crackers, meet friends and exchange gifts. No wonder brands love Diwali.

 

The newspapers turned into flyers

Newspapers are well and truly alive for the marketing fraternity. This Diwali the newspapers got fatter, became so obese that delivery boys needed wheelbarrows to deliver them to every doorstep. The newspapers gleefully carried multiple jackets, gatefolds, reverse gatefolds and many more innovations that we may not have heard of. What is not alive and kicking were the brands and the ideas that they put out. Almost every brand turned large expensive ads into a list of things they have to offer. From Snapdeal to Amazon to Samsung to Sony, all the brands put out were Rangoli, Diyas and grids and grids of product listing. May be for brands the presence on print is bigger issue then what they put out as stimulus. I hope the consumers responded to each ad is large numbers. This Diwali, one thing was clear, there is no issue with the importance of print, the ideas on print is completely different story.

 

The season of giving?

Did the brands start their Diwali campaign hoping to go viral on Social Media? There cant be another reason for many brands to turn Diwali into a season of giving. Culturally we are not the most giving community. The consumerism driven society is more about consuming and less about sharing. If giving was such a big issue with consumers, then the anti cracker campaign would have been an unqualified success. Reliance Fresh and Surf Excel had almost similar messages; make lives of people around you happier. Both brands celebrate the goodness of those who are blessed with wealth and showcase their desire to share happiness. Pepperfry takes the same thought and celebrates the joy of sharing between two roommates, one of whom is senior of the other.  The battle of giving has been won by Big Bazaar. They have carried their Paper Patakha idea and given it a different spin. The celebration of Diwali with less fortunate bunch of children is very well crafted.

 

Celebrating Personal Relationships

Amazon stayed within the personal relationship space it has crafted and this Diwali is a story between father and daughter. Amazon does leave you with a lump in your throat, may be the insight is sharper, and may be the story is more heartwarming. Snapdeal stays within the zone of boxes and giving out box of Zindagi. Snapdeal stayed safe, the boxes didn’t light up the screen. One Plus did an indulgent long format film about homecoming, new beginning and video calling. OnePlus did manage to tug a few heartstrings through this commercial. Was there anything like OnePlus in the commercial? As a brand it celebrates rewriting rules, this film is like many others done in past. The Coke Diwali.  Homecoming film done a couple years back is far more heartwarming.

Not all brands were about giving

Its not that this Diwali most brands were on giving as a theme. Many brands were about pure indulgence and being unapologetic about it. Apart from Tanishq, almost every other brand was about being celebrating your own good fortune. Jabong turned self-indulgence into an almost new kind of social language. Jabong made its consumers selfish by turning them into a Festival. The #YouAreTheFestival campaign is the other end of spectrum of what most brands created this Diwali. Did Jabong go too far in celebrating the sense of personal importance?

 

Netflix, what is wrong with you?

Netflix has a MBA problem. MBA is Manufacturers Belly Ache, the MBA syndrome is at full display by Netflix. The best it could do was to mock the festival and ask people to watch Netflix. As someone said on Twitter, “is this the best Netflix can do? Mock Diwali?”

Vimal Pan Masala (a category that is in all kind of wrong news) did the same with a rather tasteless Diwali ad. The line of crackers going off wishing people “Dumdar Diwali” was really the worse ad of this Diwali.

 

Now that India’s shopping festival is over, it will be interesting to watch if the brands stay in the zone of giving and build a longer narrative around it. Slipping into indulgent territory of self-importance is easy; staying in the self less territory is tough.

Original published here: http://bestmediainfo.com/2016/11/ad-stand-branded-diwali/