Parody ads: limited appeal and benefits

The debate on the reason-why and effectiveness of parody ads can be seen in ad industry portals of late. Parody ads (or movies) aren’t new. Famous ad campaigns have been spoofed either as a one-off ad or a campaign in the past. Of late there have been a spate of campaigns adopting this route.

Swiggy’s Instamart launched a series of ads which were spoofs of other popular ads from the not-so distant or very distant past. The intent: to convey that Instamart delivers groceries & other essentials quickly. So, Colgate’s ‘Kya aapke toothpaste mein namak hai?‘ (‘does your toothpaste have salt?) was used as a reference to convey that even if one runs out of salt, it can be delivered instantly.

The original Colgate ad could also evoke a sense of incredulousness as a mic-holding ‘journalist’ popped up at the most unlikeliest of places to ask the question if one’s toothpaste has salt. It got its visibility through media monies and efficiency, creating a lot of ‘opportunity to see’ – am not sure if it was universally liked. Also it has been spoofed earlier by YouTubers and comedy channels. So the ‘salt’ angle was established from there to convey the proposition of delivering essentials. The other ads spoofed were Taj Mahal tea’s ‘Wah, Taj!’, Liril soap ad from the 1990s and the Ramesh-Suresh ads of Cadbury’s 5-star. I am not sure if regular folks remember ads from the 1990s (however iconic they were) or even the forgetful pair of Ramesh-Suresh from the recent past. And if the target audience for such services comprise the younger age group then I wonder if they’ll ever get the references.

Such ads may bring a chuckle among those who get the references from earlier ad campaigns but I suspect outside of the ad industry not many would recollect these instantly. There could be a varying levels of familiarity and relatability – the actor commonly known as the ‘Swiggy uncle’ can perhaps help set the context to a service like M-fine, a healthcare service brand.

But whether the advertised or the spoofed brand gets recognition and memorability is the proverbial million-dollar question.

In my view, these serve like inside jokes of a domain or speciality which only industry-insiders will get. Or maybe research shows that folks in media & advertising are the most likely customers for advertised services like Instamart. Either way, I feel the benefits are short term and the approach has a tactical feel to it than a strategic direction for building a brand.

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