A big idea can be used across categories. Fogg did it nearly a decade ago with deodorants. And now Balaji is doing it with wafers — the concept of using ‘air’ as a measure of overpromise and under delivery. The newest campaign from Balaji wafers uses ‘zyada hawa’ to humorously portray that competitor packs have more air-and-bluster rather than substance and product. Using the current favourite-of-the-season Ayushmann Khurana as its new face, the three-ad campaign has the Badhai Ho actor playing double roles in different situations. The ads are nice, but it’s the proposition that’s more powerful. Good stuff — differentiated and strategic in a category that is crowded and largely copy cat. Also, for once, I am sure the brand play on ‘hawa’ will be remembered more than the brand endorsee.
The one ad that caught my attention this week was an unusual vox populi by Wonderchef, the pots and pans brand. Ostensibly pushing the cause, Dear Man Hold The Pan, the free-flowing interview on the streets and sea-face comes up with some interesting nuggets like, “The time an average Indian spends in the kitchen doing chores on a daily basis: Men 29 minutes, Women 300 minutes”! And Wonderchef wants that to change.
Through a social experiment (the brand calls it a lighthearted wake-up call), in which men are quizzed about lentils and greens, and made to break an egg (messy, messy messy), the sprightly interviewer effectively proves that men in India have little or no clue about what is cooking in their kitchen. They seem to have happily abdicated the role of the home chef to the ladies with zero desire to contribute. Well that, says Wonderchef, is gender inequality and needs to be remedied.
The ad itself is interesting. The rendition of what we already know is of course engagingly handled, but it is also the stuttering-stammering men, who try to dodge simple but uncomfortable questions, which add to the goodness of the communication. There is an even bigger laugh waiting in the end when some millennial women know even lesser about cooking than their male counterparts. All-in-all, a good communication —different, interactive and enlightening in a non-offensive sort of way.
The new MS Dhoni redBus ad with puppets is way too forced and contrived. The orchestrated actions of customers forced to be ‘puppets’ is both unreal and untrue. Sure, redBus may have a better and more flexible offering, but saying that all competition does is to starve the category of facilities and options is an exaggeration. Most importantly, Dhoni as the protagonist adds little or no value to the narrative. If his only role is to enhance recall and memorability, that may not happen because the core of the communication itself is flimsy and based on visible overclaims.
The presence of a celebrity cannot remedy that intrinsic flaw. redBus advertising has consistently fallen short of expectations. There was an earlier Dhoni ad, where he was made to appear as a Sardarji. Most people did not quite connect to the Dhoni avatar and all the creativity and humour was unfortunately wasted. In trying to be creative, redBus is perhaps losing the plot every time.
But the oddest campaign of the week by far has been from OYO. There are three ads in the series. One centres around touts and their tall claims. Fair. One focuses on ‘business’ hotels that have no business calling themselves so. Fair, again. It is the third ad in the series that however left me intrigued. A couple is looking for some time ‘together’. Everywhere they settle in together, they are disturbed or shooed away. OYO makes a case therefore that they rather spend time together in an OYO hotel room.
I am not a prude, but the alternative to sitting together in a public place cannot be a hotel room, which in our society is more a suggestion for sleeping together. A restaurant, yes. A movie theatre, sure. A garden, may be. But a hotel room? Well... Whoever created and approved the OYO creative had perhaps never heard of the cheap, low-brow ‘blow-the-heat-change-the-sheet’ kind of hotels that are a reality in most big cities. They offer the basic minimums, a bit of privacy and can be hired almost by the hour by consenting couples. Surely, OYO is not trying to promote those kind of seedy and shady hotels under its brand signature!
The OYO kind of advertising worries me. It is communication without thought, without strategy and without any actual understanding of the intended messaging. A crude assessment of OYO’s advertising would simply call it promotion for chaddar-badloo hotels. Such poor judgment, and such poor taste. Phew!(The author is an advertising veteran)