Reviewers: Raghu Bhat and Manish Bhatt
With around 13 years’ experience in advertising, Raghu Bhat and Manish Bhatt, founder-directors of Scarecrow Communications Ltd, have worked on brands such as Cadbury, Asian Paints, Aegon Religare Life Insurance, Wonderbra and Vaseline.
Brilliant: Raghu Bhat (left) and Manish Bhatt.
The new commercial for Volkswagen’s Jetta by DDB Mudra shows a baby who is born with wings. As he grows older, he uses his wings to score a brilliant football goal and to rescue a girl from a burning building, which win him fame. Then he sees the new Jetta—and snips his wings off for the new car.
What did you think of the advertisement?
The creative idea of “People will do anything for brand X” is a familiar one. One of our own ads for Royal Enfield had a guy cutting off his umbilical cord to ride his dream bike. Recently, another agency had a guy changing his religion in order to experience a plywood brand. The premise of a kid growing up with a physical peculiarity (boy with big ears for Xbox) and then overcoming it, due to a brand, is an oft-explored theme, with enough critical mass to be almost labelled as a genre. On its own, this is still a clutter-breaker. The execution, however, is brilliant. The football scene is hilarious. The casting and music are spot on.
Does this ad work for the brand?
As we have seen, the “vivid exaggeration of behaviour” seems to be a very popular advertising technique. I have always wondered why. The answer lies in our conventional textbook thinking which always underlines the need to cut through clutter. This constant, self-created artificial pressure to create clutter-busters leads to a cycle of increasingly disruptive imagery. But there are other questions that need investigation. For example, does the ad create an emotional connect or an emotional distance? Does it create enjoyability or, like that highway accident, does it just lead to a bout of temporary curiosity? My sense is, since premium cars are not an impulse purchase, you are largely talking to an active seeker. So clutter may not be that relevant. Secondly, unlike in the West, for Indians bizarre doesn’t necessarily mean funny. The third point relates to the ambiguity of the sacrificial object. A sacrifice is meaningful when you give up something precious. The pair of wings, at various points in the film, oscillates from being an inconvenient appendage to a redemption tool. Fourthly, rarely is stimulus equal to response, especially in luxury categories.
Technique: The ‘vivid exaggeration of behaviour’ is very popular.
What must a premium or luxury car brand such as Jetta keep in mind while pitching to a price-sensitive market like India?
The audience for the Jetta looks at it as the great enabler. When the guy walks into the showroom, the foremost question on his mind is—will this car make me look sportier, sexier, younger and more successful than I actually am? That, too, at a good price? This ad projects the brand as the hero, rather than the protagonist. To that extent, it doesn’t “upgrade” him.
As told to Gouri Shah.