When topical advertising meets tactical

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I have heard this story (apocryphal perhaps) about a print ad released by After Eight mints in the UK: apparently there was a birth in the royal family late one night and an ad released next day said something to the effect of ‘Best things in life happen After Eight’. Closer home, during one of the typical ‘Indo-Pak’ stand offs, Colgate ran an ad which showed the barbed wire border with the blurbs ‘Talk to me’ on both sides. Both examples of good topical advertising.

Topical ads link a brand to the news of the day and can deliver far greater impact than regular one-off ads. Since the topic is in the public eye, a clever linkage to the brand in question goes a long way in cementing the brand to that particular event. In India, Amul has been using topical advertising strategically – their hoardings make a tongue-in-cheek comment about current issues with word play being the style. Releasing ads during annual events (you know, Valentine’s Day, Father’s Day etc.) has become a routine affair (remember the Durex ad for Father’s Day?). But making a quick tactical statement about a current event and getting talked about deserves special kudos. The work done by several brands during the recent dust storm in Sydney comes to mind.

The most famous among the recent examples of great topical ads is the one released by the depilatory brand Veet in Australia, when President Obama was sworn in.


Herewith a few more that caught my eye:

When Shahid Afridi took a bite of the cricket ball in February this year, Nando’s Restaurants ran this ad in Australia:

Nando's Shahid Afridi

The eruption of Eyjafjallajokull in Iceland was an opportunity for East Coast trains in the UK and Telstra (to promote their video conferencing products) in Australia:


During the Earth Hour event this year, Naked Communications created this ad for Persil. The ad was nominated ‘Ad of the Month’ by the Newspaper Advertising Bureau (NAB) in New Zealand.


In 2005, when a new Prime Minister was about to take office in the UK, Purina ran this ad for Felix, brilliantly linking the brand’s No. 1 position to the event. And this month, they did a repeat in The Guardian.


Major events like the Tiger Woods controversy or even relatively minor events like Daylight Saving Time coming to an end, can be seen as opportunities by brands. The quality of thinking, speed of execution and the brand fit deliver mileage beyond just a short span of time.

Of course, there are several examples. Any obvious ones I missed? Any of your favourite ones? Do comment in.

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