It’s a bit ‘Meh’

It’s a bit ‘Meh’


The creative force behind many of ad agency BMB’s award-winning campaigns, Pat Burns, executive creative director, BMB India, has worked on brands such as Nike, PlayStation, Heinz and Goldfish.


The new commercial for Bank of India done by Ogilvy & Mather India shows a young man trying his best to woo a girl. The girl acts coy and keeps saying, “Padosi dekh lenge (the neighbours will see us)" and “Babuji dekh lenge (father will see us)". The ad ends with the two heading home; it is later revealed that they are married. Thanks to Bank of India home loans, everyone has a space they can call their own: “Rishton ke liye apna ghar hona kitna zaroori hain"—runs the tag line.

What are your first thoughts on the ad?

My very first thought was “I wonder what that was about". I’m afraid my Hindi isn’t good, so if I’ve missed some nuance or a bit of great writing, apologies, and fingers crossed you don’t get the blundering foreigner again next time. So I got a simultaneous translation, like I was at the United Nations. And yeah, it’s nice enough. Prettily done, with a cute twist.

Is it a break from other financial services ads?

I neither liked nor disliked it. I thought it was competent but unremarkable. It is, to coin a phrase, a bit meh. The slice-of-life approach has a hypnotic appeal for financial clients. Done right, it’s friendly and human and cuddly in a way monolithic, faceless corporations can’t otherwise be.

If you were the film-maker/creative director on the ad, what would you have done differently?

I dunno. Animated it. Cast pigeons instead of actors. Told a story about “The Happy Rupee". Any number of pretty arbitrary things, which most clients would laugh out of the room. Most people don’t really like risk.

What I would definitely do, however, is brand the trousers off it. An ad which basically goes “Hey, if you got a home loan, you could, y’know, buy a home. Lots of love, the Bank of India" needs, at some point, to get nasty, or listen to the sound of millions of people quietly forgetting it.

Is this sector boring for advertising?

Almost always, yes. Though I don’t envy them their task; they’re trying to transform a mathematical decision into an emotional one. They can’t say our loans are a cooler colour, or more fun, or better for your hair than other loans. People don’t want a funky loan. They want a cheap loan from a company that isn’t likely to go bust.

What’s a global ad in the financial services sector that caught your eye?

Has everyone seen Compare the Meerkat? It’s old hat, but I don’t know if it ever really escaped the UK. It shows that if you don’t have anything to say, say it loud and say it over and over again. I sort of love it and sort of hate it. It defies description.

As told to Anushree Chandran.