Saif-Kareena, Vectus and celebrity ads


A majority of ads go un-noticed. That’s a worse state to be in than being noticed and disliked. An ad being noticed but evoking indifference in the viewer is also a sub-optimal state to be in. In this context, many marketers (and agencies) believe that celebrity endorsement is the solution for the ad to be noticed, creating brand name awareness and affinity. If only it was that simple...

Brand mascots: avoiding the pitfalls of advertising characters and visual properties


A brand’s unique property may include its logo, a jingle or sound mnemonic (called sonic branding) a font, colour, tag line or a brand mascot. Surprisingly, not many brands work with a long-term view to create a distinct brand property. The way a ‘product window’ (industry speak for the cut-way segment in an ad which shows ingredients or how they work) is shot or the use of a...

Debate around fairness creams: room for grey areas


Recently, on the back of the Black Lives Matter campaign, Unilever India came under the microscope regarding its skin lightening cream Fair & Lovely. Online petitions urged the company to take corrective action to stop promoting fairness as an ideal state of beauty. The company decided to drop the word ‘Fair’ in the brand to change it to ‘Glow & Lovely’. They have...

When ‘black lives matter’ is seen as a branding opportunity


Over the last few days, many enterprises and brands have put out branded communication in support of what has come to the known as the ‘Black lives matter’ campaign – with the recent riots in the US being the context. Essentially, such ads or corporate messages call for an end to racism. ‘Being silent is not an option’ and variants thereof are the most common...

Creative approval: of processes, frameworks and subjectivity


Recently, there was much furore on social media over an Instagram post from Kent RO Systems for their atta & bread maker. The ad asked: “Are you allowing your maid to knead atta dough by hand? Her hands may be infected”. As is wont in such cases, it was a free for all in terms of criticism. The brand sent out an official apology and pulled the ad.  In my view, the intent behind the ad...

Advertising as investment during COVID-19: what’s the right approach?


Many businesses are likely to face an existential threat thanks to extended periods of lockdown across the world. Small and medium enterprises or local businesses such as retail would have had little or no income during this period. Even after the lockdown is eased or lifted consumer attitude and behaviour towards many categories is not likely to be the same as it was just a few months ago. Even...

Ad agencies and their new ‘competition’


The advertising industry had it relatively easy for many decades when media clutter was nowhere near what it is today. The media choices were limited and commercial messaging did not try too hard to be clutter breaking. Ads which were pretty direct & straightforward (‘Surf washes whitest!’) were the norm, as they did not have to fight for the consumer’s attention. In an...

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