Last month, the large conversation was around GST. The country was preparing for a big transition from one indirect taxation structure to another taxation structure. Ideally, it should have been a simple affair of a switchover. But as it happens in India, the whole buzz leading to the switchover was anything but smooth. The amount of jokes that sprung up on GST must have increased the bandwidth consumption in India by many gigabytes. The markets went on GST sale, the brands made special offers, they created the GST price protection plans, the constantly on sale ecom portals had one more reason to stay on sale. The country had a shopping festival this year that may have been bigger than the coming Diwali.

There is one brand that may have won the entire GST hullabaloo; that brand is Durex. In a clever cheeky post on Twitter, Durex usurped the entire GST conversation. Clever from Durex. Wonder why no other brand has a take on GST?

In the lead-up to GST, the Government of India did release a high pressure, high intensity campaign across the country. Whether all of the ads were thought through and whether the live event had everything correct is really up for debate. The countrywide press ad was poorly crafted and badly written. This is unlike what this Government has done till now, their ads have been sharp and well made. Here’s the launch ad and you can have your own take on the headline.

The switchover from the previous system to the new system was beamed live to the whole country, but did the PM walk away to theme music of Darth Vader? The public broadcaster obviously is poorly trained on small intricacies of music and movies.

The bigger issue though is one voice that has become the voice of the Government. You will hear this very well-known and loved baritone across the Swachh Bharat Mission, Pulse Polio Mission, Hepatitis, GST and possibly more in quick succession on Radio. It’s not Mr Bachchan’s fault that he comes across sounding similar in all the ads. The creative teams of all the causes that Government pushes have used him in a singular way. The similar sounding tonality across all the ads should be a cause of worry as it does impact the memorability of the campaigns. For the advertising-savvy government, this is one blip it must correct quickly. Mr. Bachchan may be a great choice, but he needs to be used in creatively vibrant ways.

Apart from all the pressure of advertising from the Government and switchover of the taxation structure, MP Birla cement released a high on emotion campaign where they tried to go beyond the usual appeal of cement brands.

MP Birla Cement is a rather unusual brand name for a brand trying to create consumer appeal, the advertising though is rather nice. Here is the ad that talks about how making a house in India is such a tough task. The emotional overlay of sacrifices a family makes in making the house is then connected to not just the quality of cement but also to expert advice on usage of cement. Trying to create appeal for an intermediate product like cement is a tough task, and strength is the dominating appeal. MP Birla is adding the angle of expertise. In the long run, this may turn out to be differentiator, especially of the expertise angle that is rolled in a big way for the end consumer.

Staying with cement, the ad of the month for me comes from Japan. Japan is the master of ludicrous advertising, but sometimes there are ads that cross over to become insanely mad. Here’s a commercial where the actors are screaming and shouting and while watching you are trying to guess the category. It’s really an odd way of advertising for a boring category but is done with such quirk that it is impossible to ignore the ad. The ad did very well at Cannes this year.

So did Durex with the clever tweet.

Original published here:

AdStand: Coke, Oppo, GoIbibo, Kellogs and Deepika

There is an easy way to get eyeballs, that is to sign up the current superstar and watch the brand soar. Coke, Kellogs, GoIbibo and Gionee have all got the advantage of having possibly the hottest celebrity as the endorser. All the brands have released the ads at the same time, giving the brands a certain topicality.


The Coke Elevator Campaign

While Pepsi faltered in its campaign, Coke has kept the narrative simple and created a very Coke kind of spot. The story of a star bumping into a commoner, connecting with each other and the star leaving the common stranger with a goofy grin makes for super viewing.

There is a certain charm that Deepika brings to the commercial and despite a very tight story line and little space to improvise makes the commercial memorable. The hotel room service steward is also perfectly cast.

The spot though is adapted from the international commercial of Coke. The international commercial is a modern day Cinderella story where an ordinary girl bumps into a celebrity DJ and ends up having her own starry moment and a selfie that didn’t work out as well as she thought it would. The winner this the interactive digital content which takes you floor by floor giving you a taste of candid moments.

The digital campaign has far more interesting take on the modern Cinderella story than just a selfie that is dominated by a bottle of Coke. This is a winner from Coke


Selfie and Oppo

Oppo was about the love story between two stars. These two stars haven’t been cast together in a movie, so by a phone brand that was a brave move. The brand has now moved beyond love story, into Selfie. The emotion of finding long lost love has been replaced by narcissistic feel of looking at your face with a weird pout. Deepika is fighting the pout war with Alia and Ranveer. This is an interesting war out there, pouts, pouts and pouts and three hottest celebrities.


GoIbibo and Deepika

At 8.5 million views in YouTube alone GoIbibo is doing very well to help Deepika make money by using her contacts on her phone book. This is a simple tale that is enlivened by Deepika, but more by the technologically challenged aunt. The aunt plays the old-world-old–idiom driven lady with extreme pizzazz. It’s the casting that is inspired, the rest of the ad is usual.


Kellogs and Deepika


Kellogs and Deepika were into selfies last year. Deepika was showing off her weight loss post two week challenge last year. This year Kellogs Special K Protein is more about maintaining your weight by eating the most tempting Cranberry flavoured cereal. There are many cranberries in the commercial, almost from frame one to frame hundred. Its just in final frame you discover that Kellogs has two more flavours. This is a classical packaged food commercial, and does the job of selling the breakfast well. Kellogs will benefit from having a supremely fit and attractive Deepika as its ambassador


Deepika and new ASCI Guidelines

ASCI’s new guidelines for brand endorsers and will the guideline have an impact on Deepika’s brands? The bubbly drink is about making friends, that should be safe. The dual lens cell phone is about selfies, you can’t debate that. The travel brand is about making money from friends, that’s a matter between friends. The breakfast cereal is about maintain weight. May be Deepika now needs to hire a nutritionist and a food scientist. Or may be Kellogs can explore selfies again.

They are in fashion.

Original published here:


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