Post Diwali ads have seen a very welcome departure from the usual norms — a new and different crop of celebrity endorsees. Karan Johar for Knorr, Sonakshi Sinha for Myntra, and the low-profile but highly talented Vijay Raaz, seldom seen in ads, for Ford. Last week also brought to fore Michelin Chef Vikas Khanna, badminton champ Parupalli Kashyap and Netflix favourite Radhika Apte, all in one ad for Cipla. Also, there was Chef Bhakti Arora weighing in for Heritage Foods.
Quite a change from the famous faces that clients and brands usually favour. Karan Johar has an unexpected visitor at 3 am. It has been pouring outside, and a wet and dripping neighbour rings the bell. He has lost his key and has nowhere else to go. A sleepy but sympathetic Johar hands him a blanket; but the handsome neighbour seeks a bit more warmth. He wants a hot soup at that hour! Not the least affected by the demand, Johar prepares the soul warmer of a Knorr soup, and serves it to the guest. But what he doesn’t bargain for is that the neighbour loves the hot soup so much that he requests another helping! It’s a nice ad. Good script. Clean narrative.
Unfortunately, Karan Johar sleepwalks through the script (yes, we know it is 3 am!) with hardly visible emotions. There are some minimal facial expressions but they are at best wooden. A director of his repute could have coaxed some better acting out of himself. The Sonakshi Sinha piece for Myntra is pretty good. For one, she looks attractive. The black and white execution is classy, but its the bold and candid portrayal of Sonakshi that earns the commercial full marks. Sonakshi comes across as honest, frank and forthright. Yes, she has always had a weight problem; but that is no reason for trolls to defame her, debase her.
Call her “cow on the catwalk”, “auntyji”, “elephant”, “Motakshi Sinha” or more, she tells detractors. She has nothing to hide: not her curves, her weight or image. She is unashamedly #BiggerThan- Them (pun intended). She makes a virtue about not being ever cowed down into khamoshi. It is a nice piece of communication. Hard hitting, aggressive, bave. Vijay Raaz in the Ford ad is a bit of a surprise. Raaz becomes the subject of much discussion and speculation after purchasing an EcoSport. Gossipmongers go into a huddle; they are convinced that he has taken to unethical business practices so as to afford the Ford’s service cost.
The film ends with the gossipmongers being made to eat the humble pie, as Raaz reveals the low service costs of any Ford vehicle. Raaz is his usual competent self with expressions that are a tribute to his versatility as an actor. The script or the proposition itself is nothing to write home about, but that Ford opted to use the unsung actor as protagonist is praise-worthy. The ad will stand out in the clutter just because of his presence.
The Cipla ad uses the chef, the badminton champ and the actress as spokespersons and champions for asthma inhalers. Edu-ads are normally boring and insipid. Cipla tries to use these unusual faces to support their cause, elaborating on different aspects of usage without being preachy. The Q&A format is well used. There is no attempt at providing ‘infotainment’. It is a practical, matter-of-fact, reasonably down-to-earth sharing of useful information. The relatively unknown lady chef, Bhakti Arora, comes across as a bit raw in the Heritage Foods ad. But that is irrelevant.
That a client has been gutsy enough to bet on a new face is what is heartening. If well used, she can become a unique and long-term brand property. I have always been a strong advocate for breaking the near oligopoly of a few Bollywood stars and cricketers who seem to dominate the celebrity endorsement circuit. I am glad to see Karan Johar and Sonakshi Sinha in the campaigns mentioned above. I am even more excited by the opportunity afforded to Raaz, P Kashyap, Vikas Khanna and Bhakti Arora. I hope for new winds of change in the new Samvat! (The author is an advertisement veteran)