New Delhi: Taking a break from spreading happiness among one’s family, Amazon India’s recent Diwali campaign featured an unlikely protagonist—a household’s laundry man who asks his employer for hand-me-down clothes for his son for the festival.
To his utter surprise, the lady of the house gifts him a set of new clothes straight out of an Amazon box saying that they do not have a tradition of wearing old clothes on Diwali. The ad has a powerful message urging consumers to share happiness with people who are often neglected.
On similar lines is Hindustan Unilever detergent brand Surf Excel’s Diwali ad spot which features a bunch of kids who spoil their clothes with colours to create a rangoli for their washer man at his house. Reliance Retail Ltd owned supermarket chain Reliance Fresh’s festive spot, also weaves the story around a house maid and her employer who is seen preparing a lavish meal for surprise guests who turn out to be the maid’s parents.
Clearly, this Diwali brands have latched on to the ‘Joy of Giving’ theme and urging consumers to share happiness beyond their family setting and celebrate the festival with the underprivileged.
In fact, State Bank of India (SBI) has gone a step further.
It is seen walking the talk with its festive campaign urging consumers to take ‘Hope Loans’ —a concept under which the bank will make some donations to the NGOs on every loan taken from it.
Rajnish Kumar, managing director, SBI said, “This is an effort from SBI to give customers an opportunity to be the hope for people from under privileged sections of the society. For every home, auto or personal loan disbursed, SBI will donate Rs100 per loan to NGOs working in areas of education, health, mobility solutions and clean environment.”
Advertising experts believe that while some of these ads may strike an emotional chord with consumers owing to their heartwarming execution and goodwill message, many will simply fade in the festive frenzy.
Prathap Suthan, managing partner and chief creative officer at the agency Bang in the Middle, feels that brands getting into an emotional arena and spreading the warmth of Diwali is very much like the Christmas shopping season in the US and Europe.
“It’s become the most anticipated season for fantastic social stories of giving and charity. The Reliance Fresh story is reflective of what is happening in many homes today, where the domestic help is no longer a step or a level below. There is wider acceptance, more smiles, more bonding, and certainly comfort and equality between the employer and employee that never existed. A lot of homes today have an extended family unit with maids and drivers and other support staff coming in,” he noted.
Swati Bhattacharya, chief creative officer, FCB Ulka, agrees that several brands have chosen the same theme yet she chooses not to judge the campaigns as they may lead to something good. “The apathy is so high through the year that if a bunch of brands decide to cheer up the deserving people, I wouldn’t mind the sameness in creatives,” she quipped.
However, Jitender Dabas, chief strategy officer, McCann Worldgroup India, minces no words in saying that festival advertising has become repetitive and forced and started to appear opportunistic.
“Almost every ad you see around this period talks about caring for waiting, old parents, domestic help or underprivileged kids. Yes, brands world over try to appeal to the charitable side of consumers when they are celebrating but when everyone starts doing it in almost the same fashion it will start becoming a blind spot for consumers,” he said.
He cites the example of the recent OnePlus 3 ad where a young man chooses to visit his parents instead of celebrating the festival with his girlfriend’s family which looks forced. “For a smartphone company which usually creates functional communication it seems an odd fit. But when a Surf Excel extends its promise of ‘Daag Acche Hain’ through the Eid and now the recent Diwali ad, it goes on to add to the core equity of the brand, said Dabas. “If the language of your brand is completely different throughout the year and you switch mode to soppy, goody ‘let’s-care-for-the unattended’ only during festival season it will not create surplus equity for you,” he added.
Gouri Shah contributed to this story