Ranbir Kapoor really looks good in the Wild Stone ads. For a change, he is well used in films that are short, crisp and without any complicated narrative. The debonair Kapoor uses the power of his deo (the brand prefers to call it fragrance) to entice and entrance his various lady friends to start cheering for India despite them being from nationalities of competing teams.
The three commercials, each 15 seconds long, are almost identical, except that the young Ranbir Kapoor has a new companion in each film - Pakistani, English and Australian - each of whom is sitting with him in front of the TV watching India play their home team. But, so strong is the attraction of Kapoor’s Wild Stone that they are mesmerized into cheering for India! It is, however, the exit expression on Kapoor’s face, the confident guffaw as he keels over laughing which what makes the commercials stand-out.
Kapoor dominates each of the commercials; the camera concentrates on him single-mindedly; the girls are there, but they don’t really matter; their nationality is inconsequential; his offering them a drink or popcorn is kind of mechanical; the fun is triggered when they smell his ‘fragrance’ from up-close and start to sing an unexpectedly different tune. Very beautifully thought through, well choreographed, and nicely rendered. Well done Ranbir, Wild Stone.
It is ‘Pantastic’ news at the World Cup not just because young Rishabh Pant has officially joined the Indian World Cup squad as a replacement for the injured Shikhar Dhawan. It seems that the stylish wicket-keeper-batsman is also increasingly catching the fancy of advertisers. The IPL saw him feature in his first commercial with Yuvraj for Cadbury Fuse. Followed by a dance jig with Captain Kohli for some Himalayan cream to defuse pimples. But, his best ad so far is his latest for Coke as 12th man, where Yuvraj again features in a cameo.
The new Coke film looks at the day’s game from the perspective of the 12th man. It talks about his importance - right from handing out the drinks, to tying the loose laces of the batsman, to helping him gulp down his Coke, to being ready to come on to the field as a substitute and being ever-ready for that ‘unexpected call up’ by the Captain. For Rishabh, the commercial may actually be prophetic. From being left out of the team headed to London, to suddenly being actually ‘called up’ Coke almost appears to be his lucky talisman.
More than the narrative, the black-and-white-and-red colour coded Coca Cola film stands out visually too amongst the creatives currently running on the World Cup broadcast. The camera work is outstanding, the shots are well planned and well executed. Pant himself does not over-shadow the narrative. He is just what he is supposed to be: the eager busybody, the 12th man. There is nothing starry about Pant, just the rookie who conveys the main message of the ad: to play for the team, you have first to be a part of the team. Nice thought. And yes, a nice ad.
I have often been asked of late why I invariably pick ads with celebrities for this column. The answer is not far to seek. Well, almost 60-70 percent of all ads these days feature celebrities. Big, small, emerging . but a famous face, for sure. Also, having spent so much money hiring a celebrity, these brands then willy-nilly feel the need to spend top dollars in running those creatives on television to ensure maximal return-on-investment. So, whether I like it or not, my choice every week gets biased by the visibility of the communication, and the impact of the celebrity.
Which is not to say that brands that do not use celebrities do not succeed. The best contra example of a winner brand is Fogg. It is the market leader by far in the deodorant category; has never used celebrity endorsers; constantly puts out newer and newer and better creatives; has a clear USP for each of its offerings; is very product-benefit focused; is very problem-solution oriented; is a heavy and astute media spender; and continues to innovate with interesting products. But there are very few examples like this.
The current World Cup (as was the IPL) is full of Shahrukh, Aamir, Virat, Dhoni, Ranveer, Ranbir, Akshay, Devgun, Deepika, Alia, Anushka and many more stars and starlets. Some like Virat, Dhoni and Akshay are in multiple ads which sometimes leaves you wondering if the brands they advertise for are actually getting confused/ dwarfed/ overshadowed/ forgotten by the aura of the very celebrities hired to sell them. The day is not far when outliers like Fogg will stand out even more because they chose not succumb to the charm of a well-known face, instead built their own equity sans celebrity glitter.
(The author is an advertising and media veteran)