Word-ly wise

Word-ly wise


With around 15 years experience in the advertising industry,Titus Upputuru, executive creative director for Saatchi & Saatchi, has worked with brands such as KFC, Afghan Telecom and Electrolux


The campaign for Scrabble by Ogilvy & Mather shows a set of identical twins arriving late for their karate class. One boy gets punished for sleeping in, but his brother manages to wriggle out of the situation by saying he suffers from “clinomania"—which the instructor imagines to be a grave ailment but which is essentially the desire to sleep.

What did you think of the ad campaign?

Upon deliberation I came to the sequitur that the aforesaid advertisement was didactic in nature. I am beholden because I relinquished my benightedness and aggrandized my vocabulary. Scrabble is all about words, isn’t it? The bigger the words, the bigger the score. I remember as kids, we used to try outdo each other by not only forming longish words but also by using words that are slightly adult in nature, trying to prove that we were adults when we were drinking our Maltovas. Back then, wealth had a different meaning. Knowledge was more coveted than money. Because nine letters yielded a higher score than five.

Does this ad do justice to the board-game brand?

To me, Scrabble meant a lot more than the implications on the rest of my life. It was not a means.?As a kid I?never played because I had to become smart. I played because I loved words. Perhaps that’s where I learnt to play with words. The letters came trailing one behind the other and we were making an animation movie. It was also about freedom and endless possibilities. You could go up, down, across, be a head, be a tail, or even a bridge. You were an architect building new worlds made with off-white bricks.

Will it work with the target audience?

Because it was so close to my growing up years, I wish the insight was a little richer than about saving your skin by being a smart alec. But I guess the ad does tell parents how the game will help their children grow a better brain. How it will make them smarter. So parents might be encouraged to buy this board game for their children. And the children might also want to learn it and play it because they would want to learn new words and use them in real life to impress others.

What’s your favourite ad in this category?

I’m not sure if I remember any ad in the category, but what comes to mind is this film made by my brother Joshua (Upputuru). The film was called Death by Scrabble. Maybe Scrabble should pick it up and use it. Like Absolut’s I’m Here that won a Lion last year. The entire film is set over a game of Scrabble played by a married couple one afternoon. With every word they form on the board, we get to know what’s going in their heads, until the plot thickens to a devastating end. That, to my mind, is Machiavellian!

As told to Gouri Shah