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On The Spot | Good picks are all too few

On The Spot | Good picks are all too few
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First Published: Tue, Feb 24 2009. 12 07 AM IST

Updated: Tue, Feb 24 2009. 12 07 AM IST
It’s bad enough that there are a whole bunch of advertisers who stick to tired, formulaic solutions. But in the month under review, even the few that otherwise stand out seem to have failed us. The picks this month have been a struggle for there are too few claimants for the honour. For that matter, picking the turkey of the month has been even more difficult, for precisely the opposite reason
Turkey of the Month
Dishonest glibness, implicit gender bias
This one’s a real tussle. Should it be Horlicks with the strangest baseline ever (‘Badlo apne bachpan ka size’) or VIP with a grossly overdone and overacted commercial that seriously dents actor Shahid Kapur’s chances of getting another endorsement deal? Or is it Windows Live with an atrociously contrived story featuring a badly stereotyped Punjabi aunty? Continuing with the theme of being let down by advertisers who have otherwise done good work, it is none other but Idea with its democracy-by-phone ad. Not because it lacks an idea or is badly executed, but because of its dishonest glibness and the implicit gender bias that becomes apparent when one sees the full version of the commercial.
The idea that democracy is some vast opinion poll is shallow enough, but to show a woman politician stepping into the shoes of her late husband needing to be propped up by actor Abhishek Bachchan and a phone poll is troubling. The entire Idea campaign, while being extremely fresh and engaging, has been accompanied by a troubling note of preying on the vulnerable. In ad after ad, we have sequences where people, overcome by the power of the “idea”, are obsequiously grateful. For a brand that does very little on the ground, isn’t it just a tad dishonest? Brands using a larger canvas is a great idea but along with that comes responsibility. How’s that for an idea?
Getting it right, unerringly
Asian Paints
Ogilvy and Mather
A charming story told through the eyes of grandparents, who remember as much as they forget, but we all know that their heart lies firmly in the right place. This is core Asian Paints territory and when the brand gets it right, it does so unerringly. The Royale ads stand out in contrast for the effort that goes into making them believable and even half-watchable.
Utter nonsense, deadpan precision
Bingo Mad Angles /Achaari Masti
Ogilvy and Mather
Delicious revenge on all clients who look at options for all things, including options. A triangle is rotated many times over under the earnest scrutiny of so many brand managers we know. Utter nonsense delivered with deadpan precision. Didn’t need the Arab-with-flying-kiss end, of course.
Not really deep, but engaging
Tata Sky Plus
Ogilvy and Mather
Once again, actors Aamir Khan and Gul Panag create a watchable ad that fuses storytelling with product features. The advertising is not particularly deep, but is consistently engaging. The writing is deft, never pushing too hard, and the acting sufficiently self-aware so as to be intelligent.
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First Published: Tue, Feb 24 2009. 12 07 AM IST