Indian advertising 2007: Part I

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It is that time of the year: of seasons greetings, celebrations and Top 10 lists. For some reason, we all love lists – the Billboard Top 100, The American Top 40, the Fortune 500 are all brands in their own right. At the end of every year, magazines like Time too bring out their ‘best of’ list.

Herewith some of my favourites among Indian ads in 2007 (one tends to recall stuff closer to the year end, so I guess I may miss out on really great stuff which broke during early part of the year). These are ads that are fresh in my mind:

Tata Tea: my instant reaction when I saw the ad was ‘wish I had thought of this for the brand’. It is truly an idea that has potential to elevate the brand to another level. The operative word being potential. While the TV ad laid the platform for the idea, it would take a huge initiative beyond advertising to truly make an impact. I realize that they have a website going with ‘issues of the day’ etc., but they seem tame to me.

Bingo (vango-pongo): hats off to the client and the agency for breaking the ‘category’ rules and defying the naysayers. Deciding to focus on ‘great combination’ as a core benefit was a bold move: the category trend is to focus on crunchiness or lightness as an attribute. The initial set of work from the agency was bang on: irreverent, inherently Indian (like the product) and funny. The vango-pongo and Mad Angles were my favourites. Having said that, the subsequnet sets of TV spots have been less imapactful. The brand activities too seem to have lost some sting. And are they focusing on ‘crispiness’ in their last set of ads (laboratory tests)? I thought staying with ‘great combination’ would be an advantage and highly ‘campaignable’.

Neo Sports (Indo-Pak Series): I have seen only one spot – the gas stove one – the tension that they managed to create was fantastic. Pity that the ‘product’ did not match up to the hype of the advertising claim.

Moto Razr (slash): The idea of a ‘razor sharp’ cut was used even during the launch of the earlier model. But this one stood out because of the sheer style of execution.

Fevicol (fixed before you know it): a very nice extension of the brand idea of ‘quick fix’. The TVC takes a moment for the ‘penny to drop’ but when it does, you smile. I have seen some print ads for the same idea – I guess the team is covering all grounds for a ‘Campaign of the Year’ entry.

Vodafone alerts: a typical example of not being able to figure out the twist in the tale right till the end. My favourites are the ‘goat’s milk’ and the ‘elevator’ ones.

Sunfeast Snacky: simply because it was different for the category, dramatized the product benefit and used SRK subtely.

Axis Bank name change: a charming way to communicate the name change.

Microsoft Original Software: finally an endearing rendition of the pitfalls of using pirated software.

The Airtel Google Search, Airtel border and Nike Cricket would get honorabe mentions.

THE DUDS OF THE YEAR would be a long list – the ones that come to mind immediately are:

Airtel – SRK as salesman: as irritating as the ‘Sir, do you want credit card from AisaWaisa Bank’ when you are in the middle of a meeting.

Dish TV: the logic seems to be ‘SRK use kiya, toh ad hit hai‘. Thoda aur try karo. (I guess one could add Belmonte, Masterstroke and Compaq to that list. In the Compaq you must see the expression of the father – he is supposed to be overcome with emotion of this son’s success – it appears that he is just crying out of sheer boredom or at SRK’s hamming).

Cadbury’s 5 Star: the ones where the guys disappear. Wish the ad would disappear too within the 15th second.

Fevicol aliens: the analogy was apt. Aliens ‘suck’ the earthlings. But, Fevicol sticks, no? Not sucks. Am confused.

Center Fresh ATM: typical of a type of creative that takes itself too seriously and tries too hard to be ‘tangential’.

White Mischief: the equivalent of ‘Moron Mail’ of MAD magazine. The stuff that gives advertising a bad name.

Zen Estilo ‘Boxes’: an example of a brand spending zillions on media and not registering anything. The product was exactly what the ad said it was not.

The campaign for Idea was odd for me — the central idea was great but soon the ads bored me out. The follow up 10-seconders were particularly tame.

Sadly, I could not recall a single print campaign that was a ‘stand out’. There was a time when there were atleast 3-4 print campaigns in a year that were memorable – the ones you used to envy for their craft. The closest would be the ‘Bharat Matrimony’ ads for their art.

What would feature in your list for 2007?

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