Last week’s best pick in advertising is surely the new commercial from Japanese fashion brand Uniqlo featuring the handsome, athletic and debonair Roger Federer. No, the ad campaign has not broken in Indian media, but with the ubiquity of the digital medium, few would have missed it while browsing the internet.
For starters, the ad itself is very minimalist. Japanese, yes, but global in look and feel. Understated whites. A very cool, upmarket interior of Federer’s home. The star himself in uber-casuals, playing the piano. Uniqlo has created the Federer campaign to tell a visual story of the tennis champion ‘enjoying life at home in jeans’. Simple thought, beautifully executed. Federer says, “I could only think of tennis when I first started. Once I began taking time for myself, that’s when I truly started winning. My life, my jeans. Authentic jeans with all day comfort.”
It is the visual language of the ad that first arrested my attention. Federer oozes comfort. He looks completely relaxed. It is the easy spontaneity of the way he conducts himself that works wonders for Uniqlo. In most Indian portrayals of celebrities, it is this spontaneity that is missing most times. The situations, the lines, the act all seems contrived. Not so for Federer. He looks just perfectly at ease in the Uniqlo Ezy jeans. Smiling, relaxed, natural… extolling ‘the comfort of sweats plus the look of denim’. Great ad, a must-see for all Indian creative directors: guys get your celebrity to emote with the kind of ease Federer shows, and you too could get far more bang out of that celebrity buck!
Ariel’s #ShareTheLoad campaign released a new rendition last week. The film opens on a telephonic conversation between a mother and her daughter. The mother is shown simultaneously to be cleaning her son’s room. The son is seated on the bed, idling away, oblivious to what the mother is doing. The daughter tells the mother that she has given up her employment. The mother is shocked and asks her what made her take this decision. The daughter says it is because of the increase in household chores. The mother asks why she can’t split the housework with her husband. The girl answers that her husband doesn’t help because he doesn’t know how to do any household work. Soon as she makes the statement, it dawns on the mother that her own son too is of no help around the home. She asks her daughter to reconsider and turns her attention to her son, getting him involved in loading up the washing machine.
The question is does this continuing campaign on gender disparity still cut ice? My answer is no. Because I think the narrative is becoming a bit repetitive and predictable. The current ad is just half a step above the client’s brief with no real creative value addition. The mother’s telephonic conversation with the daughter is about as staged as the cluttered room in which the commercial is shot. The disinterested son is part of the ‘phoney’ script. It is all there: the problem, the customer’s anguish, the customer’s moment of truth and customer redemption… all packed into half-a-minute. The idea of mothers being change-makers for the future requires more imagination, more creative cut-thru. Newer renditions of a tired idea won’t really help Ariel.
The new Brooke Bond Red Label commercial is very touching. It opens on a young man entering a house. An elderly woman is seated on the dining table, unmoved. As the man walks in, he reminisces about the time when all the members of the colony would visit the lady to drink a cup of her tea. But that came to an end when she started to suffer from Alzheimer’s. The man makes two cups of tea, for her and for himself. The lady drinks a sip, smiles and compliments the man, who she refers to as Amit. The film goes on to reveal that the man’s name is not Amit. Amit is the lady’s son, who lives in America. The man is the lady’s neighbour. Nice story. Nice brand messaging. Engaging. Immersive. High on emotion. Much prefer Red Label over Ariel. Anyday.
(The writer is an advertising veteran.)