Eyeballing 2012

Dec 18 2012, 02:13 IST
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SummaryUneven creative output marked the year gone by. If there was anything new, it was that telecom gave away its pride of place in Indian advertising to internet start-ups.

Uneven creative output marked the year gone by. If there was anything new, it was that telecom gave away its pride of place in Indian advertising to internet start-ups

It wasn't the best of times. It wasn’t the worst of times. In terms of advertising output, 2012 was the kind of year that did not distinguish itself in any particular way that history might want to look back upon and smile. It is true that advertising goes through these cycles of creativity, where suddenly some new burst of energy, either in the form of a exciting category, new media forms, a new way of seeing understanding consumers, unconventional influences that take creative work to hitherto unexplored areas, or the influx of fresh talent, comes in and sets a new course for creative output. In the last few years, we have seen some evidence of this — we have gone through spikes in the quality of creative work from time to time because of a combination of the above factors. The year 2011 for instance had some blockbuster campaigns — Airtel's Har ek friend zaroori hota hai and Cadbury’s Shubh Aarambh come readily to mind. The year 2012 has nothing equivalent to offer — neither in terms of scale nor freshness.

In terms of what is new, perhaps it is the moving away of telecom as a category that defines the centre of gravity in advertising, leaving behind a vacuum of sorts. That is not to say that telecom has been absent this year, but the combination of business pressures on the category combined with a certain amount of creative fatigue seems to have taken a toll. Airtel’s follow-up campaign Jo tera hai woh mera hai was competent but seemed to rely too much on its predecessor to stand out on its own. Vodafone’s post-pug-post-zoozoos campaign featuring a crochety old man and a young teenager was just about average. Idea’s idea of cross-religious celebrations was, in keeping with its last few efforts, more than a little contrived. Its most recent Honey Bunny campaign, while executed with a degree of self-consciousness, seems to come from a fresher place and looks poised to do well. Tata DoCoMo might have missed the mark with Ranbir Kapoor as an old man, but its ‘incomplete stories’ effort was significantly better; its problem, of course, is to settle on a brand idea that has any resonance with consumers, otherwise it finds itself living from campaign to campaign.

The category that seemed to be coming into its own, at least in terms of visibility, was that of the various internet start-ups that, flush with valuation-backed funding, have populated our screens with great gusto. The most consistent performer here, in terms of advertising, has been Flipkart; the idea of kids acting as adults might by itself not be a creative breakthrough, but the executions have been charming, and thanks to its consistency and visibility, the campaign has delivered some sense of coherence to the brand. For the category as a whole, of course, coherence is the one quality that has remained remarkably elusive. The typical advertising in this category tends to be exaggerated to the point of being somewhat unhinged; prime examples being the trying-so-hard-that-it-bleeds attempt by Quikr featuring Bob Biswas and the decidedly strange offering dished out by Godaddy.com. Salman Khan’s presence made a ham-handed Yatra.com campaign worse. Untethered by having to cater to too many ground realities, internet and e-commerce start-ups seem to reside in a world of their imagination. The pressure to be whimsical makes for some very uneven creative output; 2012 was certainly a great illustration of this aspect.

Some of the better work this year included Cadbury’s on-going campaign—though less distinguished than last year’s effort it continued to move along a very clear and well-defined trajectory. This year the quality was less consistent, but there were winners like the ‘in-laws, outlaws’ commercial featuring a young couple talking on the sidelines of a wedding, and the one where a wife tells her husband she is pregnant. The Cadbury’s Milk Shots campaign that featured Anurag Kashyap looking for appropriate people to cast in a new film worked well, although the same could not be said of another brand from the stable, Oreo, which is too cutesy for its own good. In the case of Oreo, one senses the heavy hand of international campaign formats lurking somewhere in the background.

Tanishq was another brand that did some consistently good work; the wedding gift and the solitaire commercials in particular, use a simple idea to exceedingly good effect. The depiction of a taciturn husband displaying affection for his wife in a gruff understated way was executed flawlessly in both cases. The idea of making jewellery conversational without losing out on its specialness is a delicate task and the brand has managed it well. In the media space, The Hindu scored with some telling comments on the dumbing down of the media discourse; in this category, Mumbai Mirror had a powerful campaign that featured a lot of angst ridden Mumbaikars but it might have been a case of advertising overselling the product. The IPL campaign was spectacularly mounted and took the cricket-as-entertainment idea to new heights. Kurkure is another brand that has maintained a consistent tone of voice. It took its ‘tedha hai par mera hai’ zaniness to an interesting place this year with its ‘tedhi mummy idea’ with the perfectly cast Juhi Chawla. The idea of a mother releasing her children from the pressure of expectations while being released herself was a powerful one; it helped that it was delivered in such a branded way. Kurkure is a brand that has used a brand ambassador really well and done so year on year.

In terms of the misses, Vespa lost a golden opportunity to signal its iconic status by doing some forgettable and thoroughly unstrategic work. For a brand with that kind of residual power to come back into Indian lives with such a whimper was a waste of great potential. The most controversial campaign of the year would have to be 18 Again, a vaginal tightening gel. While the advertising, though well executed, tried its best to pretend that it was marketing something routine, the nature of the product itself legitimately caused outrage.

It looks as if advertising is waiting for something to happen; perhaps 2013 might have those answers!

The author is MD &CEO of Future Brands

Top 10 Ads

Vodafone

I, me, myself

Campaign: Made for you

Brand: Vodafone

Company: Vodafone India

Agency: Ogilvy India

The Ad: This was a series of three ads that talked about the different needs and expectations people have—the first spot was set in a tailor’s shop, the second at the barbershop and the third in a gymnasium.

In the first ad, a bevy of girls make a beeline for the local tailor (masterji) with varied fashion choices. In the second spot, one young man wants a cool-dude look, another a pigtail, and another wants his head shaved.

In the final spot, the issues vary from the biceps, to the triceps, to the tummy, and then to the mug. The voice-over for all three ads went: Dial 121 from your Vodafone number for customised plans. In other words, alag log, alag zaroorte (Different people, different needs).

Our Take

So, here goes our vox populi question: What’s interesting about a work-out? Or for that matter, a trip to the barber or discussing necklines with the masterji? Answer: Absolutely nothing. Unless you took into account the diverse wishes of every one there and their overall quirkiness quotient. Vodafone is one brand that knows how to have fun with its communication, and often does so at the expense of its customers. Of course, it does this in a completely charming, tongue-in-cheek way and with stealth, delivers the goal. The ads just breezed along and offered a great slice-of-life. They played on real life portraits and magnified their eccentricities. We’ve seen these people before, haven’t we? Their demands are as unreasonable as they are ludicrous. The sub-text is that human beings are a diverse set, and Vodafone is a new-age, customised solutions telecom brand. It is versatile in addressing the many needs of the customer. It takes care of the individual in you. By dialing the magic number 121, one can avail the ‘Made for you’ packages. The brand delivered the message with charming finesse all the way. The ads were targeted at socio-economic class (SEC) A and B audiences and the anecdotal responses were so full of hot air, that they made the viewing experience fun.

Here’s what is great about Vodafone and its advertising. It doesn’t follow the beaten path. There are funny tweaks and turns and nothing interrupts the magic of the narrative. They use a simple idea. Different strokes for different folks and the brand achieves a masterstroke.

Flipkart

Father of man

Campaign: No kidding. No worries

Brand: Flipkart

Company: Flipkart.com

Agency: Happy Creative Services

The Ad: In this campaign, Flipkart spoke to its target group on why it is the best online shopping portal. All the ads in this campaign featured kids made to look, behave and talk like adults – at home, at a beauty parlour, in an office, in a cafe, etc. The films touched upon various issues and concerns that a consumer might associate with online shopping, be it a replacement guarantee or cash on delivery or even questions that a potential customer may have -- the ads through the use of visual humour and children in an adult avatar, sought to address these concerns and make the consumer comfortable with the idea of shopping online on Flipkart.

Our Take:

The success of this campaign can be easily ascertained from the fact that it’s been running for over a year now. Initially launched last year, new ads were added earlier this year to a series that became one of the most talked about ad campaigns of recent times. The ads executed the basic idea of creating awareness about online shopping while tickling the funny bone.

In a market cluttered with ads from e-commerce websites on a rapid expansion mode, this campaign enabled Flipkart to stand apart from the rest and created a sort of advertising benchmark that remains elusive to most other internet start-ups. The concept, the creative and the execution created a formidable mesh that resulted into this commendable, and enjoyable, campaign. If Flipkart can claim today to be one of the most recognised online shopping brands in the country, much of the credit goes to this campaign.

It created a buzz about Flipkart, and that’s precisely why the company has been following the same formula. Why change strategy when you’ve got a tried and tested winning concoction?

The only risk that the campaign ran was the risk of overkill. Somehow, because of varied content and great execution and performances by the child actors, the audience’s affinity towards the campaign just grew with each new instalment. Maintaining or even bettering the viewer and consumer response is a challenge for any brand and creative agency, and Flipkart as well as Happy Creative Services deserve an A+ for their effort. In advertising, humour is considered a particularly difficult and certainly risky element but Flipkart sat comfortably on the right side of humour. What remains to be seen is for how long will Flipkart be able to sustain this campaign. Till then, smile away.

Fevicol

The bond movies

Campaign: Fevicol Marine ferry

Brand: Fevicol Marine

Company: Pidilite Industries

Agency: Ogilvy India

The Ad: The ad opened with a boatman rowing his boat, which is filled to capacity with wooden chairs. An old man waves to him. The boatman thinks the old man wants to hitch a ride and as the boat is full, he declines. But it’s the old man’s young and pretty daughter who wants to hop on. The boatman starts pushing chairs into the water to make space for the girl and her other belongings, which include a huge hay stack and even a goat. The commercial closes with the girl and the boatman happily continuing with their journey, while the chairs are all tied to the boat and are being pulled along, submerged in water. The accompanying voice-over is: “Wahi mazboot jod, paani mein bhi”. (The same strong bond, even under water).

Our Take:

Fevicol has over the years given us some memorable ads, with a few becoming a part of Indian advertising folklore. That’s precisely why the adhesive brand has enjoyed top-of-the-mind recall for a good two decades now. This Fevicol Marine ad did well by following the winning formula that has been working well for the brand for some time. The earthy Indianness was retained with the look and feel of the ad, particularly with the interesting folk-music background score, which frankly has become one of Fevicol’s signature elements in an ad. Fevicol’s trademark humour element also underlined the television commercial that provided it with further strength to cater to Indian sensibilities with a no-frills, simple, humble and honest ad. The tagline, “Wahi mazboot jod, paani mein bhi,” also worked well pushing forwards Fevicol’s established image of a trusted adhesive.Also, after a long time, Fevicol broke away from using metaphoric representation of an adhesive to employing the product in the imagery. And they did it well, for it lent something new to this ad while not really breaking away from their tried, tested and much loved formula.

The ad delivered the intended brand communication, was humourous and enjoyable, and made an otherwise staid product category stand out in its communication. But given the legendary status of some of the previous Fevicol ads, this ad may not leave that lasting an imprint. When you have a history of some brilliant ads, even a good ad seems just average in that distinguished company. So if anything went against this ad, it was the history of Fevicol’s advertising campaigns.

Idea

Jingle and mingle

Campaign: Idea festive campaign

Brand: Idea

Company: Idea Cellular

Agency: Lowe Lintas

The Ad: This three-part campaign that came out around Diwali was focussed on the idea that all festivals should be celebrated and should bring happiness to people across communities. The first ad showed a Muslim man standing outside a shop wistfully looking at the expensive watches on display, until the shop owner shows him a 50% Diwali discount card. The shopkeeper wishes him “Happy Diwali” and the man buys a watch for his wife, and sends her a picture of the watch on her Idea phone with a “Happy Diwali” message.

The second television commercial showed a Hindu couple. The wife asks her husband to take the day off, to which he readily agrees. He further declares that the two will go out for lunch. Bewildered but happy, she then gets an “Eid Mubaarak” message from Idea and calls her husband’s bluff of taking an off on a holiday. Dumbfounded, he hugs his wife and wishes her “Eid Mubaarak”.

The final ad had an old Sikh man dressed as Santa Claus. From the payment he gets for his Father Christmas role, he asks his wife over the phone to buy the new fridge that she wanted and wishes her “Merry Christmas”.

All three ads end with the voice-over: “Dharam jo bhi ho, har tyauhar manaana acha idea hai”. (Whatever be the religion, it’s a good idea to enjoy every festival).

Our Take:

So Idea did not employ the services of Abhishek Bachchan for this campaign and still dished out quite a good one.

Well done. It might have discounted the brand ambassador in keeping with festival discounts, but did well to stay true to the core of its advertising and brand communication. It retained its ideology of “beyond telecom” advertising, mostly served with a larger message for society – be it environment, health or social harmony.

Most of Idea’s campaigns over the years have left us with something more than a service provider desperate to sell SIM cards. A larger, and often humourous, social message within a communication lent respectability to the ads. This campaign too worked well on these accounts. It was relevant in terms of timing, released at the height of the festive season rush.

The campaign while delivering the message of social and communal harmony did not appear to be preachy or overbearing. As usual, the product and the service was left jostling for space and importance in the campaign, but that’s been Idea’s mantra for quite a while now.

The campaign, like the festive season itself, left a sweet after-taste that ensured that the three ads created an impression that might not be as stark or vivid as some of the earlier memorable Idea campaigns, but was still good enough.

IPL

In a league of its own

Campaign: IPL carnival

Brand: IPL

Company: Board of Control for Cricket in India

Agency: Ogilvy India

The Ad: Two schoolboys stroll along, when they hear some noise, from the other side of the wall. Intrigued, one of them looks through a peephole and to his delight finds there is a carnival being held inside. A man with a funny hat invites them to join in. The boys enjoy the rides and games. The film ends with one of the boys gesturing to the host, “What is this?” He replies: “Yeh IPL hai, boss”. (This is IPL, boss).

Our Take:

On the other side of the wall, lies a land that razzles and dazzles. A land with bright lights, fun rides and games, and spectacular sights and treats. This is the land of the Indian Premier League (IPL), and isn’t it a lavish and boisterous one? This land stepped straight off from a fairy tale that every child has read about. Which made the IPL carnival advert truly noteworthy and exceptional; it talked to the child in you.

A child who gazed with open-mouthed wonder at the dizzying rides, the charming circus people, the dangerous magic acts, etc. Spectacular show, and the slick special effects and loud colours made it a great watch. The agency germinated the idea from the insight that during each game of the IPL, the viewer is subjected to an emotional and exhilarating rollercoaster ride.

Hence a showy circus (mela) was the perfect backdrop. They were not wrong, here. The ad hit bull’s eye. In the background, you could spot fun games and rides such as Dhoni Dhamaal, Vettori Twirler, Viru Whammer, Slinga Malinga, Pathan Pounder, Gilly Funda and Master Blaster. The background score Eena Mena Deeka added Bollywood jazz and ranked the commercial high on the recall scale.

This neat thirty seconder cricket ad rushed along, without a flesh and blood cricketer in the frame . The irony is that the communication was designed for a top-notch cricket property that spanned a little over two months. But the huge production scale and the perfect casting made it a collector’s item. “Yeh IPL hain boss,” said the funny man with the funny hat in the ad. He said it with a great deal of authority and we believed him. No raggedy cricket show, this one. This show was in a league of its own.

NIKE

The long march

Campaign: Parallel journeys

Brand: Nike

Company: Nike India

Agency: JWT India

The Ad: The commercial highlighted the parallel, almost identical, journeys of aspiring cricketers and established ones where each day offered a new challenge.

The spot took the viewer on a vigorous ride through long roads, early morning practice sessions and stiff training. The ad highlighted how cricketers across levels take to the field and practice before their big games. Before the first ball of the match is bowled, the Nike tagline ‘Just do it’ cut across. The background score was intense and over-powering.. The players of the Indian cricket team, who were part of the film, included Virat Kohli, Ajinkya Rahane, R Ashwin, Yuvraj Singh, Gautam Gambhir, MS Dhoni, Irfan Pathan, Virender Sehwag, Zaheer Khan and Suresh Raina. The ad navigated areas as diverse as Ladakh and Pondicherry.

Our Take:

There are so many stories in the Indian heartland. Stories of brave young men who soldier on, through the rugged terrain and the curving roads, in order to reach their ultimate destination. The cricket field. Because in India, cricket is not just a game. It is a way of life. At any given point, there are millions in the blue billions who aspire to play for Team India. Interestingly, their lives are identical to those they wish to emulate.

Here was a fantastic advert that captured the lives of the cricketers, from the moment the sun rises till the moment the first ball is bowled. The ad evoked strong emotions. Hunger, passion, the will to succeed, the adrenaline rush and the sheer discipline of the game. The commercial showed the hard hours spent on training and the relentless pursuit to be fit and in form. This was the common thread that cut across established and non-established players. Nike used sport as a plank, but did not show Team India cricketers as magical, omnipotent beings . Cricketers Dhoni and Virat Kohli did not enjoy reverential status. Instead, they were shown going through the same emotions as other athletes and were given the same amount of frame. The snapshots aptly pictured the stark reality of the game and the tension, sweat and toil behind the sweet success. The great part about the ad is that there were no actors. These were real life aspirants. Real life cricketers. For once, the spotlight was not just on the packed stadiums and the frenzied fans. The silver light shone on the athlete and his constant battle to qualify and compete. The soundtrack added to the tension of the game. The pitch built up, along with the momentum of the ad. Until the charged climax -- when the first ball is bowled.

Very few brands have the gumption or the vision to put forth such an ad. Almost none have the attitude or the oomph to carry it off. Great work, Nike. You just did it.

KBC

Mango man’s day out

Campaign: Sirf gyaan hi aapko aapka haq dilata hai

Brand: Kaun Banega Crorepati

Company: Sony Entertainment Television (SET)

Agency: Leo Burnett

The Ad: ‘Sirf Gyaan Hi Aapko Haq Dilata Hai’ was the proposition used by the sixth season of the game show Kaun Banega Crorepati (KBC) hosted by Amitabh Bachchan, which was launched in September this year. The campaign included a series of films which talked about how education can surmount challenges and fight social evils. In one of the films, a girl was shown being discriminated against, but when she was able to use her education and knowledge to win R1 crore at KBC and is asked by Amitabh Bachchan if she has a message for the world, she says, ‘Ladki hui hai. Mubarak ho.’ (You have a girl child, congratulations). In another spot, the protagonist was shown being derided for his poor English skills but when he wins a huge amount at KBC, he proudly attributes his success to “Hindi medium”. In the third film, a boy was shown being ignored because his father was not an influential man but when he wins at KBC, Bachchan concludes that knowledge can get one anywhere.

Our Take:

A promo for a reality show such as KBC gets a narrow window to make its impact. Therefore, this campaign had to be emphatic enough to draw in the audiences without losing any time. Like earlier KBC campaigns including the last two ‘’Koi bhi sawaal chhota nahi hota” (No question is too small) and “Koi bhi insaan chhota nahi hota” (No man is too small) conceptualised by Leo Burnett, this year’s campaign also was built around an interesting proposition: Only knowledge can help you get recognition and respect (Sirf Gyaan Hi Aapko Aapka Haq Dilata Hai). This year’s KBC campaign celebrated the power of knowledge – a great leveller in our society – which can help overcome various biases of gender, lineage and language that our country is plagued with. The campaign comprised four films, each with a distinct story which talked about these biases. The campaign used simple but relevant insights. It was based on the idea that whatever one’s situation, knowledge can take one places. While the ‘Bada Baap’ and ‘Hindi Medium’ films had a comic touch to them, the film about the girl child was serious throughout. That was probably the only inconsistency. Otherwise, all the three films were written brilliantly. The ads films had a a very Indian feel to them and people could relate to them easily.

The aam aadmi (common man) premise in the ads certainly had a deep connect with the Indian audience, especially in the hinterland. The problems that the characters faced were universal and evident in every section of the society. The shift in the positioning from a show which was all about the excitement and the chance to rub shoulders with Big B to a show where even the underdog could win helped in bringing the brand closer to the common man. This campaign was able to reach out to its core audience – the common man who wants one chance to change his destiny -- and was thereby able to capture the core value of the show and the channel. What was interesting was that the aam aadmi was not disheartened by the obstacles, but remained optimistic and confident of his ability to come up trumps. Kudos to the team for the one-liners in the ads, especially in the ‘Hindi medium’ ad.

Blackberry

Course of action

Campaign: Action starts here

Brand: BlackBerry

Company: Research In Motion

Agency: BBDO

The Ad: This television commercial was essentially a montage of people from different walks of life each doing their own thing, singing a catchy song about action. So we saw a young woman in a greenhouse singing to her plant, “Our action is to turn the world green”, then a woman jogging and singing, “My action is to look a little more lean”, joined by a young male who sings, “My action is to get into my old jeans”. A young man in an art class, three cyclists riding along a picturesque beach to catch the sunset, a little girl lingering at a cake shop, a young business woman sitting at a cafe, and so on, each proclaiming their wishes which they are realising into action. The film ended with a rock concert where the lead vocalist screams passionately, “My action is…!” and points the microphone towards the crowd. The crowd chants the anthem in unison, holding up signs on which BlackBerry’s red splat can be seen. The music continues as the voice-over says, “Whatever your action, it starts here. BlackBerry — Action starts here”.

Our Take

In an era when social media and texting can play a pivotal role in inspiring a revolution, BlackBerry’s “Action starts here” campaign is an apt allegory. This year the smartphone brand launched its new campaign around the concept of “action starts here” in the Asia Pacific region, and India was one of the countries that saw the red splat that resides in every BlackBerry phone as the new symbol for action. The new campaign promoted the red splat as a rallying sign for those who seek to act and find opportunities in any situation.

From print advertisements to retail elements, digital campaigns, social media and a television commercial, BlackBerry proclaimed that it was the brand for the man/ woman of action. This BlackBerry campaign was activist oriented, especially if one went by the outdoor and print ads, which tried to rouse people into action. However, the TV spot was more of the feel-good type with its emphasis on happy times. Since its debut in India, BlackBerry’s target group has changed from corporate suits to young people, so ably brought out by its earlier ‘We are the BlackBerry boys” campaign. This latest ad was a step forward in that direction.

Tanishq

Go for the gold

Campaign: Diwali Gift

Brand: Tanishq

Client: Titan Industries

Agency: Lowe Lintas

The Ad: This commercial launched around Diwali showed a middle-aged married couple. The wife chances upon a Tanishq jewellery set casually kept on the bed. She looks at it in surprise and wonders who it is for. Her poker-faced husband informs her casually that it belongs to his friend Rajesh, who is giving a surprise to his wife. Could she please write a nice message (for the lady) from Rajesh’s side?The couple indulges in a dialogue on whether they should buy a set as well. The wife looks longingly at the jewellery set but is cautious. She says caustically that they should not spend extravagantly this Diwali. The husband points out that buying gold is an investment. Ignoring his remark, the wife asks him what message to write and in the process finds out that it’s actually her husband who has bought the jewellery for her. The voice-over goes, “Khul ke manao Diwali. Yeh saal mein sirf ek hi baar aati hai.” (Celebrate Diwali. It comes once a year only).

Our Take:

In the midst of merriment nobody talks about gloom and doom. But this Tanishq ad turned this theory on its head as it successfully addressed the biggest marketing challenge of the year – how to make the customer make an expensive purchase in the midst of an economic slowdown. For, in 2012, the festive season came accompanied by inflation and recession. With an economy that seemed to be unable to come out of the doldrums, most families were likely to exercise caution on expensive buys. Jewellery and other luxury items could potentially take a hit. Which is where Tanishq swooped in cleverly, and reminded the Indian middle class just why they should be purchasing gold. Because gold is a significant investment. And Diwali comes only once in a year. A wonderful ad and subtly executed. The surprise element made all the difference.

Tanishq has been coming out with some interesting ads and the earlier ones that featured celebrity couple Amitabh Bachchan and Jaya Bachchan were certainly interesting. This year the brand chose an anonymous, everyday couple to tell its story, and it was even better. The actors played their parts convincingly, supported by a great script and insightful dialogues. The commercial was under-stated and believable. A long-married couple that has seen many a difficult time is something the great Indian middle-class is certainly familiar with. Caution is what steers them along. They are unlikely to give into spontaneous buys. The terse, tense exchange between the couple towards the beginning of the commercial made way for a wonderful surprise in the end. It turned out to be a charming, heart-warming story and one of the better ones this year. This one gets the gold, literally.

Coca-cola

Play is the only way

Campaign: Cricket Ki Khushi

Brand: Coca-Cola

Company: Coca-Cola India

Agency: Lowe Lintas

The Ad: This ad opened with a group of children in an arid part of the country playing a game of cricket, completely unperturbed by the soaring temperature, their bleak surroundings or the lack of any proper equipment or cricket pitch. The voice-over talked about how despite playing in such unfavourable conditions, cricket remains a source of happiness for these children and the country. Sachin Tendulkar then signs off by encouraging everyone to keep playing and be happy.

Our Take

A make-shift stump, just two bats which had to be shared by everybody and a ragged bunch of barefoot players: This ad showed cricket shorn of all glamour and razzmatazz. It was also the debut ad for Sachin Tendulkar as Coke’s brand ambassador. Featuring the legendary cricketer, it spoke of cricket as a source of happiness for the people of this country, regardless of where they come from, their social status or purchasing power. The searing sun, the glistening brow, the dust-laden air was not about how a cricket match is viewed in the huge stadiums, but how cricket is played in the alleys of small towns and the dusty patches of the hinterland.

In advertising, cricket over the years has been somewhat eclipsed by its superstars and their larger-than-life personas. But there was nothing extravagant about this Coke ad unlike most others that feature cricketers. This ad broke the clutter, played to the sensibilities of a cricket crazy nation with its slice of life moments thus presenting a story which a large number of Indians could identify with, and finally topped it up with probably the greatest ambassador of the game delivering a simple, feel-good message: Keep playing and stay happy.

There have been many cola ads made by Coca-Cola and its arch rival Pepsi around cricket – some brash, some funny and some plain silly. This cola ad broke the trend with its sublime message. The brand preferred to remain in the background, and allowed the game to be the hero. An honest and simple message behind any campaign is what sustains it eventually, and Coke has done a good job of it with this ad.

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