One of the cutest ads running on IPL these days, without doubt, is the Swiggy ‘gulab-jamun’ ad. It is a really short commercial, a mere 20-seconds, but it pulls the punch of 20 strategy planners. A simple insight, with great creative execution.
A 55-ish man answers the bell at the front door. You can hear faint commentary in the background, “He is looking for a single”. There is a Swiggy delivery boy at the door. The delivery boy hands the old man a small packet. The old man opens the pack. There is one ‘gulab-jamun’ in a plastic container. The old man scoops up the ‘gulab-jamun’ and eats it right there and then! The Swiggy delivery boy stands rooted to the ground, not knowing how to react. He doesn’t say a word. Just plays mute witness. But the old man looks delighted with his just consumed dessert. The old man shuts the door and returns to his place on the sofa in the living room, settles back comfortably, as his wife quizzically looks on. One can hear commentator Harsha Bhogle raising the pitch of his voice on the TV, not in frame, “And he sneaks one in there …!” while the camera captures the satisfied and satiated look on the old man’s face. Commercial ends with voice over, “What a delivery!”
It is the brilliance of the insight, how the old man, obviously forbidden by the family and his doctors, ‘is looking for a single’ gulab-jamun. You can see very clearly the anticipation on his face, as well as a bit of guilt as he opens the front door. But the anticipation far outweighs the guilt. Swiggy delivers just that ‘single’, communicating how it delivers the smallest of orders, even a single gulab-jamun. What transpires therefrom, the whole act of the old man scooping up the gulab-jamun into his mouth, the delight of eating the gulab-jamun, the immense satisfaction it gives him, but more importantly, doing it surreptitiously without anyone finding out, and settling back on to the sofa without the wife figuring out his little escapade is so delightfully captured on camera.
The entire ad elicits a chuckle every time one sees it. The little deception. The little cheating on the side. The ‘… sneaking one in’ is both a brilliant insight and a great creative execution. More importantly, I like the little touches. I love the commentary that accentuates the narrative so very subtly. I love the old man’s acting. I love the expressions on the face of the delivery boy. He is expressionless and motionless, but he is actually an active participant in the little subversion. I love the quizzical look on the wife’s face. Just that look that she knows that the old man has been up to some mischief, but she knows not what. It is that look that comes after perhaps 30 years of matrimony … knowing something is amiss but perhaps letting it be.
I think Lowe Lintas has done an exceptional job with Swiggy. The ad just described, is part of a larger campaign of six 20-second spots combining the two biggest passions of this country — food and cricket.
The entire campaign is witty and sharp, communicating for Swiggy three essential promises: convenience, no minimum order and fast delivery. The beauty of all the six commercials is that there are no dialogues in any of the ads, but the brand promise is delivered through voice-overs of cricket commentators Harsha Bhogle and Aakash Chopra, who highlight the various benefits of ordering from Swiggy. Director Abhinav Pratiman of Early Man Films has done a great job with carefully capturing the subtle nuances of each of the Swiggy commercials, though the old man and the gulab-jamun, remains the outright favorite.
The Swiggy commercials once again prove that advertising is first and foremost a business of story-telling, and only later of brand building. If you narrate a story well, the brand will automatically sell.
(Sandeep Goyal is an advertising veteran. He has worked at leading ad agencies like JWT, Grey, DDB, Rediffusion and Dentsu for over 30 years.)