Indian advertisers and their agencies are in a happy state of mind and the feeling is spilling into their work.
Several ads in print and television are using the word “happy” to pitch their wares. And more ads, even products, are being built around the H-word.
The happy brigade includes telco Bharti Airtel Ltd, job site Clickjobs.com (promoted by Bharatmatrimony.com Pvt. Ltd), fast food chain McDonald’s India Pvt. Ltd, household products firm Godrej Sara Lee Ltd, and pen maker Luxor Writing Instruments Pvt. Ltd. “It’s not a new phenomenon,” says Ravi Kiran, chief executive of Starcom Worldwide, a media buying firm, “but the word is making a comeback”.
The Bharti Airtel commercial has a group of shoppers and the shopkeeper himself singing “Happy recharge to you” to a man who is recharging or topping up his prepaid card at the outlet. Almost 90% of India’s 175 million mobile-phone subscriber base uses prepaid cards where people pay money upfront in return for a fixed amount of talktime.
Clickjobs.com has given its state of mind a persona, creating a character called Happy Kumar. Godrej Sara Lee’s new tagline for the firm’s Good Knight brand of mosquito repellant suggests that consumers use the product to “protect happy moments” with their families. And Luxor Writing Instruments will soon launch an entire stationery line called Planet Happy, and is planning a commercial to advertise the range, according to Pooja Jain, executive director, Luxor Writing Instruments.
There are other ads that use the proposition of happiness, but these have used them for some time. The new ad for Mahindra Holidays & Resorts Ltd (the company offers its services under the brand Club Mahindra), which has employed the word happy in its ads for the past two years, mentions it several times and, just to make sure no one missed it, sports a tagline that says “Happy family holidays”. Luggage maker VIP Industries Ltd has had a tagline that says “VIP happy journey” for a few years now. But the word is more commonly seen in ads today, says Pranesh Mishra, president and chief operating officer, Lowe India, the agency that handles the VIP account. “It is a reflection of the times we are going through; the optimism in the market and India’s overall (economic) performance are contributing to the happiness,” he adds.
Clearly, there is a lot to feel happy about.
According to data released last week by the government, India’s economy grew at 9.4% in 2006-07, the fastest in two decades. And data from human resources consulting firm Hewitt shows that salaries in the country grew the fastest in the world, by 14.4% in 2006, and are set to grow by a further 14.5% in 2007. The advertising industry, whose performance is related to the overall economy’s, grew by 23% in 2006, to Rs16,300 crore in size by capitalized billings (the size of the industry isn’t calculated on the basis of how much income it earns, but the total value of the advertisements it places).
If you are an advertiser, you can’t go wrong with happy, says a language expert.
“The word happy has a lot of positive emotions attached to it. When advertisers use the word happy, it easily and naturally makes consumers feel good about them and their products,” says Meena Sodhi, a linguist and English professor at Banaras Hindu University. Bharti Airtel’s spokesperson says the theme for the company’s advertising this year is connecting people to their families and friends, which, “in the end, is a happy feeling”.
Ramesh Srivath, executive vice-president, Rediffusion DY&R Pvt. Ltd, the agency that handles the Bharti Airtel account, says that the focus of the brand’s communication efforts has moved from “innovative advertising to emotional advertising”.
Hindustan Lever Ltd’s Bru coffee was an early convert to the merits of happy advertising. Four years ago, it started using the word in its advertisements. Last year, its ad used the tagline “Happy moments with Bru”. This year, its ad uses the tagline “Treasure of happiness”. Bru is also running a contest around the word by asking consumers to send in their happy stories to the company. The best stories win small prizes.
The happy formula works, says Mishra. “It is a simple word. It is easy to connect with. Added to the overall positive environment, any message (that uses the word) can work wonders for the brand,” adds Mishra.