Recall value

Reviewer: Prathap Suthan

Suthan, managing partner of the ad agency Bang in the Middle, has over 25 years’ experience. He is best known for the India Shining campaign for the Bharatiya Janata Party in the 2004 general election and the Incredible India campaign for the Union ministry of tourism.

Campaign

Direct-to-home (DTH) television company Tata Sky’s latest ad, Prison Break, by Ogilvy & Mather is the longest TV commercial ever to be aired in India, with a run time of 3 minutes, 30 seconds. Shot in a prison in Hungary, it shows a group of foreign prisoners plotting, and then executing, their escape on the assumption that all the guards will be busy watching an India-Pakistan cricket match. They get caught.

Has Tata Sky taken a risk by launching a 3-minute ad?

Bold: Prathap Suthan
Bold: Prathap Suthan

Isn’t the screenplay predictable?

Nothing could’ve made me expect the ending. I am also not too sure if there have been a zillion jailbreak commercials in India or even abroad. So again, not predictable. Most Bollywood films are love stories, but does that mean they end up looking the same?

The India-Pakistan cricket match reference seems untimely.

An India-Pakistan match is always a full-house occasion. One that lures almost anyone into making time for the game. You probably have to hate cricket not to watch it.

Will the ad have brand recall?

It will have the novelty of length, production value, and its oblique product benefit to ensure that people watch it over and over again. On hindsight, maybe there is a deliberate reason why it’s a bit thick the first time you watch it. It’s a great filter to employ when you are in the business of communication.

Any ad in this category that you recall for its creative?

DirecTV (a US-based digital TV entertainment service provider): last year’s big funny winner at Cannes. Roughly in the same entertainment space would be Canal+ (a French premium pay TV channel) and its Grand Prix-winning bear commercial.

The deliberate use of foreigners and prison sets lifted out of Hollywood films has no synergy with what’s supposed to be Indian. Does that matter?

Yes, it does. If I have one big issue with the film, it is exactly that. The way the film is currently set up certainly leads into a different zone. You’d be left wondering what an Indian jail warden was doing in there. But, after repeated viewings, you’d catch on to Hindi audio that gets mumbled, you’d see Hindi script on the walls, you’d spot occasional Indian guards and Indian prisoners.

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