To be honest, in this the festive season, one should normally be spoilt for choice while doing an ad review. This is that time of the year when most brands usually put out new creatives and one cannot do justice enough in a review as one tries to pack in as many campaigns as possible into the allotted space. This year, however, is different. And slow. There are new campaigns hitting media, but the number is much much lower.
Also, the variety on offer is pretty limited. I don’t know if it is the slowing economy, or brands are just being more circumspect this year, but it is not all upbeat and happy as usual this October.
The one campaign that stood out these past few days was an Amitabh Bachchan-starrer shot aboard a flight. The attendant serves Mr Bachchan some pretzels as a snack but he declines – preferring instead to take out his own pack of Bikaji Bhujia! When the lady passenger sitting next to him wants a taste of the bhujia, Bachchan quickly rolls up the privacy partition between them because the Big B never shares his bhujia with anyone!!! Kind of reminded me of Joey in Friends; he too never shares his food. Cute little touch.
It is heartening to see a small brand like Bikaji use an expensive endorsee like Amitabh Bachchan and almost take on the onus of promoting an entire category of Indian snacks. The creative execution is a bit far-fetched situationally inside the business class cabin of the plane but the overall narration is pretty endearing. Bachchan kind of fits the part like a glove.
He loves his bhujia and a serving of pretzels is no substitute. His entire interaction with the surprised flight attendant is just so funny and lovable. The co-passenger trying to get Bachchan to share the bhujia though is the real treat of the script. The speed with which Big B shuts the lady out to protect his precious bhujia from unwanted incursions is the real stroke of creative genius. Small touch, but beautifully rendered. I don’t know who the agency is but well done guys, for sure!
Another rather cute ad out this week was one for Hindware chimneys. Featuring two neighbours, Neha and Evilika, chatting in a spick-and-span kitchen, it shows Neha credit her Hindware Titania MaxX Auto Clean chimney for keeping the cooking area so clean. The envious Evilika doesn’t quite believe all that is being said. As the host goes out to receive guests, Evilika snaps her fingers to signal ‘pronto’ but the chimney’s auto-sensor gets activated by the motion and sweeps her away into the insides of the chimney. Neha on return finds her nosey neighbour missing, shrugs and presses the auto clean function which, while cleaning up the chimney of its oils, also vapourises the disbelieving Evilika!
As product-focused ads go, this is a really nice one. No celebrities for distraction. The scripting is tight. The features and the product promise is all that gets discussed and shown. The nosey neighbour, the unending questions, the open disbelief are all used as triggers to demo relevant parts of the chimney’s functioning. I like the ad. Only, I thought Hindware was a sanitary product's brand. Didn’t know they had ventured into kitchenware too. Well, I am sure the Neha-Evilika ad will get the new line new customers this festive season.
Somehow, of the new lot, the Pond’s BB+ cream ad does not quite measure up to expectations. A young girl is shown dressing up for a Navratri dance but she is engulfed in self-doubt … her kamar is actually a kamra… her wide waist has her self-conscious and embarrassed. While she struggles with the reality of her physical inadequacies, Ponds BB+ cream injects self-confidence in her, with a few drops on her palm and face. And then See What Happens! Our girl goes out to dance, swirls and twirls, and wins all hearts.
The ad looks like it dates back to the innocent 80s. The previous Pond’s commercial with the girl trying to be a boxer had more spirit, more realism. The new one lacks both. If the waist is the source of the girl’s dilemma, how a face-cream helps neutralise the self-doubt, is not really explained. The connection, if any, is completely missing, making the narrative fall flat. That too, pretty badly.
Back to where I started. Not only are the ads missing in media, but so is the festive spirit. There is no joy, no merriment, no celebration, no joie de vivre in the campaigns coming out. They are just ads timed to the festival season, not festive ads. There are still a couple of weeks to Diwali. I hope to see some crackling new creative by then.
Can’t have Diwali without some cerebral fireworks, can we?
(The author is an advertising veteran)