REVIEWER: RAM SAMPATH
Composer, producer and proprietor of The Mint (a music production house), Ram Sampath is known for his compositions, especially those he composed for brands such as Tata Safari and Nike. His work for the award-winning Nike “traffic jam” commercial won him a nomination at Cannes.
The print campaign for Tata Manza, the television commercial for Chevrolet’s Cruze and the new ad for the Hyundai i10 have brand ambassador Shah Rukh Khan wooing a woman in a film.
What did you think of these new campaigns?
The one thing that stands out in these three campaigns is a major disconnect between the image being projected in the ad, and reality. With the i10, they have SRK playing his goofy romantic self, which is great. But there is a bit of oversell on the car. The Tata Manza also has the same problem. The execution is neat, but pitching the Manza along the same lines as a Mercedes is a bit much. The one for Chevrolet Cruze is disappointing. If they’re trying to say that it’s the lion of cars, the power that should come across is missing.
What are the key ingredients of a great auto ad?
This is advertising at its most primal and cutting edge. That is where the sex is. Internationally, it’s about pushing it to the next level. So much so that a number of ad film-makers, such as Michael Bay and Dominic Sena, who shot fantastic ads in this space, are now doing some fantastic action movies. A lot of people think auto ads have peaked, but there is still so much that can be done. A good car will sell. Skoda, for example, has managed to create an impact with close to minimal advertising in India. The point is, can you take chances?
Oversell: The Manza ad projects it as being akin to the Mercedes.
When it comes to music and soundtracks, which auto brand has used this to its advantage?
Ninety percent of auto ads come from the zone of “let’s blow their minds out”. But if you choose to play it safe, you’re going to have something that is very diluted and bland. One movie that used car sound and imagery brilliantly is the 1968 American thriller Bullitt featuring Steve McQueen. That was the original car lust movie which proved that cars don’t need to be air-brushed to look sexy. Few brands actually come to mind here, barring Tata Safari.
Which is your favourite car ad?
There are many. But one of my all-time favourite car ads has got to be this one for the BMW V8 M3. I love it because it is so quiet. The imagery is beautiful, it shows you the workings of the BMW engine and the sheer beauty of engineering.
As told to Gouri Shah