afaqs!

Make way for the kid next door

By , agencyfaqs! | In Advertising | October 03, 2005
As the perfect little angels bow out, it's the likes of Samir Khan who are getting ready to rule the roost in the world of Indian ads


Remember the 'Dinku' ad & #BANNER1 & # for the Manhattan credit card, or the ice cream ad for MetLife Insurance? Today, kids are being used to sell everything from financial products to an enamel paint brand. In fact, kids are present in practically every second advertisement that's aired on television these days.

While at times, one wonders about the presence of kids in so many adverts, it's a fact that these kids continue to entice, entreat and lure the Indian consumers into buying their words.

As the biggies in this industry say, this concept of using kids in adverts will continue, but with a difference, for the trend is fast shifting from the practice of using perfect little angels to featuring their more ordinary counterparts with every day looks.

The Max 'Diwana Bana De' campaign, which starred Samir Khan with Kapil Dev, created quite a roar in the industry. The wee Khan had everyone talking about his unconventional (for advertising purposes) looks and his 'bindaas' attitude.

Ashok Karnik, vice-president, Euro RSCG, who was involved in conceiving this promo, says, "We were tired of the plastic images and opulent homes that we saw in most commercials. The idea behind casting Khan was that he resembled any boy one could see out of one's window."

He elaborates, "He is a child one can find playing in a 'gali' anywhere in the neighbourhood, not the convent educated, English speaking, well-off, fair and perfect child one sees on television all the time."

The creative fraternity has realised that it has to show real-life people in real-life situations in order to connect with real people. There are imperfections in life and quirks in every little child, and to relate to people, one needs to show that.

Priti Nair Chakravarthy, executive creative director, Lowe, says, "Today, the difference lies in relying more on the character while casting, rather than just using a pretty face."

She cites the example of the recent, much talked about Surf Commercial, in which two small children were used to convey the message: 'Daag achche hain (Stains are good).' According to Chakravarthy, the commercial stands out because the children resemble real-life kids and are not the stereotypical 'perfect kids'.

She explains, "The trend today is to use faces that represent 'you and me', and it certainly works better if one can identify with a face one sees in a commercial."

Piyush Pandey, chairman, O&M India, feels that advertising must have a sense of reality, and it has taken more than a decade for people to realise that.

Pandey says, "There was a belief that the people featuring in advertisements should look like they are from Mars, and it has taken 15 long years for them to realise that one finds life on earth and not on Mars!"

He adds, "The shift to realism has happened in movies and theatre, too. This is also because the present generation does not stick to any fixed ideas, hence the need to move away from stereotypes."

Pandey proves his point when he explains that the once often heard and used phrase, 'chocolate face', has lost its charm as people prefer to see real faces, and identify more with them, not pin-ups.

Exploring the reasons behind this shift to non-conventional kids, Prasoon Joshi, regional creative director, South and South East Asia, McCann-Erickson, says, "Today, commercials are not just about building aspirations and selling a product. There is a need to address each consumer as an individual and not as a group. A one-to-one connect is needed between the brand and the consumer. Thus, the solution lies in speaking to the common man by using ordinary faces, rather than pretty models, be it a child, man or woman."

There are a few in the fraternity who trace this trend to the increase in the number of nuclear families and the fact that children are now great influencers in the choice of a purchase.

Rajeev Raja, executive creative director, Bates, says, "Using kids alone will not suffice. Consumers today are getting cynical about advertisements mainly because of their increasing numbers. Hence, the need is to explore mediums to connect with real people."

He adds, "Indian advertising is slowly but steadily moving towards bringing real faces into commercials, be it kids or any other age group, as bringing in realism is the latest buzz."

Josy Paul, national chairman, rmg david, concurs. He is of the opinion that the trend of showing real people is not restricted to kids, but has extended further.

Paul says, "Realism showing high human values is where the latest trend in advertisements seems to be heading. Iconic brands like Hutch, SBI Life and Tata Sumo are perfect examples, which represent values like loyalty and strength of character and the message that old age can be fun."

2005 agencyfaqs!

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