Columns, Mint

Ad Survey-Formulas back as propositions

Formulas such as achievement, mother’s pride, guaranteed-to-work-in-two-weeks, among others, are all back as propositions

Another month with slim pickings. Is the downturn responsible or is one being too kind? A month where most work is depressingly below average; there aren’t even too many bad ads that one can droolingly dismember. Formulas such as achievement, mother’s pride, guaranteed-to-work-in-two-weeks, among others, are all back as propositions

A full-blown brand message

Lifebuoy Total-Lowe Worldwide

This is a brand that has mastered the art of turning what would, in the hands of any other brand, be a tactical manoeuvre and making it a full-blown brand message. The idea of Re1 off on the product is neither dramatic, nor particularly newsworthy.

Rather than exaggerate its criticality to the lives of millions of Indian housewives thirsting to save the rupee in question, the brand tells us an engaging story of a small boy and his adventures with the Re1 coin he has saved, getting thoroughly dirty in the process. Nice.

Inspired use of a film song

Vodafone-Ogilvy and Mather

The idea that with cheap rates you can talk or message endlessly about trivial things is hardly new. But Vodafone manages to depict the power of the meaningless meanderings of conversation enabled by cheap communication in a new and interesting way.

The best commercial of the lot, the one where ‘dhal gaya din’ meets its destiny in the inevitable “tak”, is actually not up for review this month, but since it is part of the same campaign, let me pick it in advance. Probably the most inspired use of a Hindi film song reference in a commercial!

A reasonably interesting story

Sprite-Ogilvy and Mather

I have had to grit my teeth and exercise some force to extract a third pick this month. There are things that work in this campaign but most have to do with the fact that it continues the good work done in the past without tinkering with it too much.

It tells a reasonably interesting story in reasonably interesting settings. The characters are not particularly likeable and the smugness of the Sprite protagonist, combined with the fact that his friend is programmed to lose, given the way he looks, make this an above average offering. In comparison with other soft drinks ads, of course, it shines with undimmed brilliance.

Turkey of the month-A complete let-down

I thought of anointing The Auto Commercial as the Turkey of the Month, given the lemming-like unanimity with which all auto brands seem to fall off the creative cliff, but then realized that I would be saying nothing particularly revelatory. So I have extricated one of those from the sticky, gooey mass of rank fetidness and crowned it as worthy of pointed disdain for this month.

The Sania Mirza devil/angel commercial is the answer given to the now-that-we-have-a-celebrity-how-do-we-fit-the-brand-in question. It is a bad answer. Of course, there are other brands, particularly in the auto space, with equally bad answers to equally inane questions, but the reason why we need to gaze reproachfully at this brand is that once upon a time it used to do good work. In fact, from its inception, the scooty has always found a way to connect uniquely with its consumers. Well, there is always a first time for everything.

Mint-March 23, 2009