A jingle-minded proposition
I’ll remember 2012 as the year of the jingle. What started with BlackBerry Boys in 2010 and “har ek friend” (Airtel) last year, spread to “Jo Tera Hai Woh Mera Hai” (Airtel) and Pumpkin Pumpkin Honey Bunny (Idea Cellular) this year. Charming jingles all, but now starting to pall a little. It’s getting like all you need to do is brief a good Bollywood lyricist and music director team on your product and you’ve got yourself a campaign. It works out good if your briefing is insightful—if it isn’t, you’ve pretty much produced an item number—here today, gone tomorrow.
I’ve had it with montage films showcasing the fact that friends are the new family. I don’t want to see unshaven, overweight “friends” in ads any more—The Hangover and Delhi Belly happened years ago, people, get over it. The fact that the “Pumpkin Pumpkin” film has a segment of Bengali craftsmen making Durga statues irritates me no end—we’ve all seen Kahaani. Can’t we exert ourselves a little and not just lift straight from the “cool” movie of the year?
I’ve always been deeply suspicious of the jingle montage. Jingle montages are the “safe” option we ad people carry to meetings if all else fails. Clients are drawn to jingle montages like vampires to pale-faced women with prominent collarbones. There’s lots of scope for chop and change and rewriting in a jingle-montage film, that’s why. It looks “big”. One Buddhist monk from Ladakh, one toothless lady in a sari without a blouse in Kerala, one small Sikh child eating candyfloss—that’s arty. DOPs (directors of photography) love montages. So do producers. Let’s please have a lot more of sharp, insightful little gems next year.
Speaking of insightful little gems, how nice was that Vodafone “Made For You” masterji ad! Beautifully cast, directed and so well-written. Being a regular to tailoring boutiques, the thoda-net-thoda-chikan line alone would make me vote for it as the ad of the year. I found it unpretentious and very warm and it delivered on the made-for-you promise perfectly. The other two in the campaign weren’t half as nice, though. I’m assuming the thinking was that only girls would like the masterji ad—that’s why there is a separate barber shop ad for the boys. As if ads are bathrooms—one for boys and one for girls. Personally, I would have made just the one masterji ad and saved myself some production money.
The really ghastly stuff this year, of course, was from the vaginal tightening and whitening brigade. Too much has already been written about them in all sorts of media, so I won’t go into it here. Then there was an all-time low when Birla Sun Life tried to do some clunky quasi-sympathetic work featuring cricketer Yuvraj Singh. It made one think back to when Captain Vikram Batra declared “yeh dil maange more” on Tiger Hill before he died—thankfully, the Pepsi marketing team was sensible enough to leave that statement alone and not “cash in” on it in any way possible. I wish Birla Sun Life had done the same—though their ad later in the year was nicer, more sensitive and appeared not at all opportunistic (here, I’d also like to salute Amul for doing no hoarding commenting on the death of Bal Thackeray).
There are many contenders for the moral-science category ad-of-the-year again this year (why do we have so much moral science in our ads, by the way? Because we have none in our real lives?), but the nicest definitely was the Kaun Banega Crorepati Sirf Gyaan Hi Aapko Aapka Haq Dilata Hai campaign. So much nicer than Pepsi’s take on Jaanta Hai Mera Baap Kaun Hai a few years ago. The Ceat “Kahan rukna hai pata hai” campaign has a nice product connect too.
The Hindu-Times of India skirmishes were noteworthy, but more in a look-who’s-fighting-with-whom way. The Bombay Times’ Born Glamorous campaign was gorgeous looking, and very unapologetic and I loved it (though I really couldn’t understand why the Mumbai Mirror I Am Mumbai campaign was so well-received here and abroad. I found it forced and rather shrill).
I liked the Café Coffee Day (CCD) sit-down campaign quite a lot. The YouTube format is genuinely fresh, and the product click neat, even though the ad seems to be suffering from the same jingle-montage sickness that is ailing all our young brands. It’s too bad the nation is up in arms and demonstrating at India Gate, but I feel CCD should persist with their idea.
The Incredible India YouTube ad featuring the young girl tourist was beautiful—as was the Cadbury Celebrations gifting ad featuring the expat-guy-in-the-office. So new, and yet so recognizable. They say more for India Shining than all the chest-thumping “muh mein Rajnigandha” ads in the world.
I’m not a fan of the Flipkart children as grown-ups ads; I find them gimmicky, though they seem to have many admirers (including my children). One would have thought online portals are a nice new product that could have delivered some fresh advertising, but they seem to only be talking about on-time delivery (except Jabong.com).
Meanwhile, Saif-Kareena continue to churn out some ghastly, giggly ads for lifestyle products, as do Shah Rukh Khan and Gauri for some random home furnishing whose name I can’t remember. As does our beloved cricket team. Then there is our national obsession with oral sex featuring Katrina Kaif, which spans from mangoes to chocolates. Also, while on oral sex, nobody gets so messy eating chocolate—nobody. So why are all the people in the Cadbury Dairy Milk Silk ads so drooly and inept?
Also, why do we make ads featuring bit characters from hit films? Every third ad a couple of years ago featured Chatur (Omi Vaidya) from 3 Idiots. This year, assassin Bob Biswas (Saswata Chatterjee) from Kahaani is the flavour of the season.
I hope we see a lot less jingles, moral science and oral sex in 2013. And some more ads of the Vodafone master ji variety please.
Anuja Chauhan is former vice-president and executive creative director at JWT. She is also the author of the novel The Zoya Factor.