Reviewer: Santosh Padhi
For around 16 years, Santosh Padhi, chief creative officer and co-founder of Taproot India, has worked on campaigns for brands such as McDonald’s, P&G Tide detergent, Johnnie Walker, Heinz Tomato Ketchup, The Times of India, Fiat India, Bajaj Auto, ICICI Bank, Luxor writing pens and Perfetti Van Melle.
Highlighting issues: Padhi
The latest National AIDS Control Organization (Naco) ad for Nirodh contraceptives shows a married couple heading to their apartment. The man drops a box of Nirodh condoms from his pocket when he pulls out the house keys. The box falls down several flights of stairs. His wife asks him to let it go, but he races down to retrieve the box. The ad ends with a message—those who use condoms are masters of their own destinies.
What did you think of the ad?
I like the way the story revolves around the product. It’s a good idea to build up the romance in the beginning as it grabs you. I admire the subtler nuances, like the fact that it’s a couple that is returning home, then the casting that looks real and fresh rather than known faces (although they could have been better actors). But the problem is when our man becomes the hero and performs acrobatics for no reason, like he were on Viagra! Just that bit didn’t really gel with the initial part that was quite real.
Does this ad create a new space for condom ads?
It’s good to see that despite so many restrictions in the category, people are still weaving in a story and trying to highlight the problem or the solution in an engaging way rather than the old way, which tends to be extremely cliched, over the top or really clinical and boring like a product demo.
What are the biggest challenges of communicating anything to do with sex?
Considering we’re Indians, with our own sensibilities and the fact that this commercial is targeted at the middle class (with joint families and all), one needs to be really careful about lots of things, especially knowing that there have been a lot of cases of communication backfiring.
Engaging: The initial part of the ad was quite real.
What’s your favourite public service ad?
I really liked last year’s Bell Bajao campaign against domestic violence, which was targeted at your neighbourhood. That the message invoked action, and urged you to ring the bell and bring domestic violence to an instant halt, was fantastic. I also loved the casting in all the three films and the fact that they catered to different classes. The campaign drove the point home and made the message loud and clear to the bad man.
I’d also like to mention the Zor se bol condom ad for its strong insight and a recent commercial where a prevent-swine-flu organization applauds the protagonist for getting himself checked even for a minor cough! It tackles the problem very well.
As told to Gouri Shah