Spotlight | Onida

Reviewer: Gopi Kukde

Sculptor, creative consultant and popularly known as the man who conceptualized the iconic Onida devil, Kukde reviews the brand’s latest television campaign which has dropped the devil.


Devil’s advocate: Gopi Kukde says he lives ‘like the (Onida) devil’. Abhijit Bhatlekar / Mint

What did you think of the new Onida commercial?

The ads are extremely well made. The whole look, the casting is very refreshing and it makes you want to look at the ad again.?What the ad tells me (is) that the product has been designed keeping “me", the consumer, in mind—(this) is where I see the danger. Over?the years, advertisers have abandoned the tangible qualities of the brand, such as the USP (unique selling point), to focus on something bigger, the intangibles in their communication. Nike, for instance, rarely advertises shoes. It sells a mindset which offers a huge boost with the Just do it tag line. Having fallen into the trap of saying that “we are good design", something that’s tangible, the brand now needs to deliver what it is promising.

The company and the current ad agency maintain that the devil has ceased to be relevant. Do you agree?

In an interview, Prasoon Joshi said people tend to turn a blind spot to things that are old...I don’t agree. People tend to turn a blind eye to things that are boring. When you saw the devil, he started out as someone who made you smile. He wasn’t boring you with random details about technology, he was saying “don’t envy it, just grab it". But as things went along, the poor devil was reduced to being a salesperson! It wasn’t like he got old. If that were the case, then no one would look at Amul hoardings.

Which other mascots to your mind are iconic?

Promises to keep: Kukde says the brand has to deliver now on design.

Has the devil ever inspired you and your works?

I live like the devil. Thinking like him makes you imagine the worst thing that can happen and helps you overcome your fear.

What is your favourite piece of advertising work?

My all-time favourite would have to be the “Shaadi aur tumse? Kabhi nahi! (Marry you? Never!)" campaign for Pan Pasand. The idea was that eating paan or paan-flavoured candy sweetens the tongue, but we didn’t want it to be contrived or the character to lose its original temperament. So even though the lines are delivered sweetly, the character is still refusing the proposal!

As told to Gouri Shah