It is that time of the year when everyone but everyone is wishing everyone else a very Happy New Year. Well, Honda did that too. Except that it wished all its rivals a “Happy 2009”! Yes, a “Happy 2009”!!! No typo, no mistake, that. A very clever tongue-in-cheek greeting ‘to the rest of the industry catching up this year, for we introduced the combi-brake system back then’. So, effectively communicating that Honda introduced the ‘Equaliser Technology’ of the combi-brake way back in 2009, and ten-years-later the rest of the industry will hopefully catch up. Nice ad.
Clever ad. Cheeky ad. But very UnJapanese, if I may say so.
I have dealt with Japan and Japanese brands since 1994. Not in 25 years have I seen such a competitive ad from any Japanese brand. Challenging. Actually, mocking not just teasing. In-the-face. Aggressive. Running down competition, that too openly. Well, this is finally the advent to India of ‘competitive renaissance’ as they now call it in Japan. No longer polite. No longer humble.
The new aggression the Japanese are learning from the West. Contrary to years of their own cultural norms. Well, the new Honda ad could well be a trend-setter of sorts. Let us see what other Japanese do to either emulate Honda in the new year, or decide to stay wedded to a public humility that shies of deriding competition openly and overtly, whatever be the provocation or competition.
Ranveer Singh’s much-hyped ‘Simmba’ which opened on the last weekend of the year, became the high-note of 2018 for brand endorsements, with as many as 5 out of Singh’s 25 endorsed brands featuring in the film. On show were Saregama Carvaan, Ching’s Badnaam Chutney, Marathi newspaper Lokmat, Rupa Frontline and Goodyear tyres.
While Lokmat and Rupa appeared unobtrusively as outdoor ads in various frames of the film captured by the camera as part of ongoing screen action, the camera focused on the tyre of the SUV when Ajay Devgn put in an appearance in his somewhat extended cameo, giving Goodyear its two-and-a half-seconds of visibility and fame. Ranveer is actually shown gifting (and later bragging about) digital music player Saregama Carvaan. So, a strong and pro-active endorsement there.
To all the experts mocking @Honda need to understand that the Ad Says @Honda is using the technology since 2009 while industry reached to that now... in short they want to convey they are 10 years ahead compared to the industry. #HappyNewYear #MarketingStrategy pic.twitter.com/97rwLMYI40— Swapnil Pardhi (@Swapnil47305200) January 1, 2019
The portrayal of Ching’s Badnaam Chutney is a consumption shot where the brand is clearly visible. But only if you are looking carefully. A far cry from the larger-than-life 6-minutes long ad called 'Ranveer Ching Returns' in 2016 made by Rohit Shetty, Simmba’s producer, with Ranveer and co-starring Tamannaah Bhatia. Made with an advertising and promotion budget of 75 crore, it was one of the most expensive ad films ever made. Well, this partnership has endured.
The unexpected gainer in Simmba was the Mahindra Scorpio whose logo was clearly visible in one of the shots, but who did not pay to be featured. A good year-end bonus, for sure. The last year ended with the debut of dating app Bumble’s #EqualNotLoose, a campaign that challenges the judgment that often accompanies a woman’s pursuit of independence and achieving professional and relationship goals. Priyanka Chopra Jonas, a partner and investor at Bumble, stars in the campaign’s TV commercial with a message that champions gender equality and the everyday moments in a modern Indian woman’s life.
Chopra Jonas features as a competent boss, a gal looking for love, a workout fan (who can shed her jacket for a sweat session) and an equal partner in domestic duties (he can cook, too!). With Lizzo’s you-go-girl anthem Good as Hell as the soundtrack, the ad’s captions try to drive home the point that women who pursue their careers are “ambitious, not loose” and those who date are “curious, not loose.” Competitor Tinder recently ran a campaign too displaying a maze of experiences that capture the spontaneity of youth and the joy of navigating this life stage. The Tinder campaign conveys that the maze is a metaphor for the world and discovering oneself and one’s place in it. Dating is obviously hotting up!
(The writer is an advertising veteran)