AD SPEAK | Lots of new commercials out for Diwali, but few sparklers

In terms of idea and execution, the ICICI Lombard ad is by far the best of the season.

Published: 30th October 2019 07:32 AM  |   Last Updated: 30th October 2019 10:49 AM   |  A+A-

Sara Ali Khan in the new Puma advertisement.

Sara Ali Khan in the new Puma advertisement.

Express News Service

The media is full of festive ads … new creatives from Whirlpool, Haier, Bombay Dyeing, Crompton, Britannia Nutrichoice, Saint Gobain, Blue Star, Samsonite, Puma, Lay’s, Savlon, Pantene and more… but very few ads that actually sparkle and stand-out.

As would be expected at this time of the year, most ads are themed around Diwali and allied festivities. But many of the new campaigns are just timed to break in the busiest consumption season with no real references to celebrations. Two campaigns in fact, for Honda scooters and Haier washing machines, have ‘silence’ at the core of their communication; Virat Kohli is in two new releases – for Blue Star and Byju’s, both without a Diwali theme; Ranbir-Alia play footsie in a new Lay’s ad that is all about smiles.

However, there are the usual Diwali anthems, collages and salutes too by the likes of ICICI Lombard, Maruti and Samsonite. Dipa Karmakar, Hima Das and Simranjit Kaur have been roped in by Haier while Anjali Lama, Dutee Chand, Mary Kom and Sara Ali Khan play ‘propah’ women for Puma. Busy time for sure.

In terms of idea and execution, the ICICI Lombard ad is by far the best of the season. It’s a song and a prayer for your safety this Diwali, sung by the fire brigade. Repurposed from the traditional aarti, the ad is a montage of fire-officers singing out fire instructions and fire advice through meaningful words and actions. Don’t wear loose clothes, dress up in cotton, keep calm in any accident, keep windows shut to keep out unwelcome ‘fiery’ intruders, in case of fire call the fire-service without delay on 101 … and you have the perfect recipe for Shubh Deepavali Saavdhaan. It’s a nice ad. Warm and friendly. I am not sure if the ad actually features fire-men from the Mumbai fire brigade but whoever they are, they act well and come across as a bunch of trustworthy guys. Good initiative by ICICI Lombard, and different too. The paltan makes for good citizenry.

The Samsonite ad is a bit of a tear-jerker, a salute to all those who are on duty, ferrying everyone else home, but have to themselves forego the warmth of their own families on this joyous occasion. The ‘sacrifice’ is worth the effort if others show appreciation for their sincere acts of duty. The theme is nothing new; neither are the situations. But the ad itself is well scripted and well shot, though I failed to make any connect with the product or the brand. Which is such a pity … the brand appears at the fag end of the commercial, somehow justifying the narrative and all the money spent. To me, any ad without adequate brand connect is a meaningless extravaganza, no more. Sorry.

Mary Kom, Sara Ali Khan, Dutee Chand and Anjali Lama light up the new Puma commercial. There is a lot of gaiety, games, graphics and gimmicks — all designed to break age-old stereotypes of what is ‘proper’ for women. The Puma stars gyrate, gig, cavort and croon to prove they are ‘empowered’. Frankly, a lot of action and activity with no real purpose. On the other hand, Haier uses Dipa Karmakar, Hima Das and Simranjit Kaur to highlight the ‘silent’ performance of its washing machines. I like the ad but always have a quarrel with using lesser-known stars if they need explanation supers to reiterate to the viewer who they actually are. It belittles their fame and works counter-intuitive to using famous faces who you acknowledge are not as well known after-all!

Byju’s usage of the entire Indian team led by Virat Kohli to announce their branding of the Indian jersey is nicely done, especially the messaging that every player is a student … learning to win with grace, and lose without losing face.

However, I can’t say the same about the Blue Star air conditioner ad where Kohli is largely wasted, surrounded by his look-alikes who merit 30% more cooling. The whole communication is a bit of a stretch with many bearded men surrounding the Indian captain for no real purpose.

The Ranbir-Alia jodi is brought together by Lays… surely a precursor to more future pairings of this much-in-love couple. The big story is the new ‘smile’ packaging introduced by the brand which encourages the concept of ‘Smile deke dekho’. But if the first train ad of the campaign is anything to go by, Ranbir-Alia would earn at best a ‘can do better’ grade.

Well, Happy Diwali to all from ad-land! The lights are burning bright, but this year the crackers are hard to find.

(The author is an advertising veteran)


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