On the spot | Many good, many terrible ads

On the spot | Many good, many terrible ads
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First Published: Mon, Jun 22 2009. 08 11 PM IST

Updated: Mon, Jun 22 2009. 08 11 PM IST
Truly original, and flawless
Ogilvy and Mather
Ok, this will not constitute ‘breaking news’, even by the admittedly lax standards of media, but it is truly a one-of-a-kind campaign that comes but once in a while.
In an otherwise easy-to-please industry, here is a campaign that is truly original. Nothing in the brand’s past prepares us for it, although it speaks in the brand’s voice quite effortlessly. The execution, the off-centre writing are all flawless.
Only crib, if you can call it that: Given the strategy of creating so many creative units in such a short period of time, this campaign can fade relatively quickly.
Makes fantasy plausible
Ogilvy and Mather
The idea that retired people regress into the dribbling freedom of childhood is the kind of fantasy that brands have used before. In this case, the idea of the retiree-as-errant-teenager is executed with such honesty that it makes the fantasy truly believable. The casting is outstanding and the setting devoid either of the prettified gloss that advertising seems most comfortable descending to or the overstated retro old-bungalow-in-the-Parsi quarter of town that it otherwise panders to.
The result is sparkling work that engages, without talking down to us in any way. The son’s role, by the way, is genius.
Simplistic but has self-belief
Saints and Warriors
The first commercial was great, the second was excruciatingly bad (the execrable monkey-with-banana as brand ambassador) and with the third, the brand returns to form. The idea of shrivelled men regaining their masculine prowess touches a real chord, if only because it acknowledges the threat that men face to their once-unchallenged status as rule makers in the India of today. The device is a bit simplistic, but the execution has enough self-belief to see it through.
Interesting that the final voice-over carries the unmistakable flavour of Punjab.
Drowning a premier self-made brand
TapRoot India
I feel like a judge at a reality show, mouthing inanities such as “We have no losers here, only winners who failed to win”, when I look at the range of possibilities this month. ICICI Bank need not lose heart for its touching belief that after years of hard-selling people to take loans they can’t pay back, the repeated use of the word ‘vishvas’ (trust) in their ads will make people think of it as a benevolent friend.
Virgin Mobile Service can take pride in creating an incredibly hackneyed commercial after having done far too much good work. Maruti Zen Estilo deserves applause for rehashing the husband-wife-pretending-to-have-an-affair for the 300th time and Airtel for running the once sweet pair of R. Madhavan and Vidya Balan ruthlessly to the ground.
But somebody must win, and this month the crown goes to Nirma. Here is a brand that was once great and refuses to get over it. The new execution is a bloated, overproduced excuse masquerading as a makeover for the brand. It shows that its creators have no conception of what a brand is, who its consumers are. All they know is that a “fuddy-duddy” brand must become contemporary.
And they choose to do so by adding an operatic backdrop to an old jingle and setting the action underwater. A staggering lack of imagination that drowns one of India’s premier self-made brands. What a waste!
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First Published: Mon, Jun 22 2009. 08 11 PM IST