Some three years ago, there was this outstanding commercial for The Times of India (TOI) that took a charming little dig at advertisers who signed on big-time celebrities as endorsement vehicles. The ad also poked gentle fun at celebrities for endorsing every second product in the market. So, there was this Tendulkar look-alike who was seen modeling for, among other things, toothpaste, suiting material and a soft drink, even as he took his guard at the wicket. In fact, the poor chap played less and endorsed more - precisely what the commercial was trying to suggest.
Since then, the underlying theme of the commercial - which was exposing one of the myriad idiosyncrasies of this country - has gradually become the peg around which all of TOI's advertising revolves. 'A day in the life of India.' is how the idea is embodied.
Take the latest commercial for the brand, crafted by TOI agency Enterprise Nexus. The 'paper pusher' ad, as the commercial is called, starts in a typical sarkari office. A man carrying a sheaf of papers approaches a table where a babu is assiduously thumbing through a file. "Excuse me," the man bearing the papers bleats, hoping to catch the babu's attention. The babu looks up. The man with the papers enquires where he needs to deposit his pension papers. The babu instantly points towards another room down the corridor.
As the pensioner moves along the corridor, the ad goes into 'fast motion'. The Hindi commentary of a hockey match resonates in the background. "Left side se aakraman… behtareen hockey ka pradarshan… dribble karte hue pahunche centerline par…"
"…par bahut hi achchi tarah se intercept kiya Dharampal ne, aur deflect kiya Sukhwinder ke paas…" A uniformed guard blocks the pensioner's path and diverts him to another table. The man seated at this table quickly motions towards yet another table ("…Sukhwinder ne pass kiya Balwinder ko…").
The poor pensioner is shunted from one table to another, one room to another, before he finally makes his way up a flight of stairs towards the office of some high-ranking officer ("…ye D ke taraf mud gaye… ye D mein pravesh…"). However, a peon stops the pensioner in his tracks ("…par defender ne attack kiya…") and refuses to allow him to go any further. However, another babu comes over to the pensioner and offers to help ("…referee ne intervene kiya…").
The babu motions with his hand for money ("…ye green cards ki appeal…"), and the pensioner obliges ("…aur ye green cards nikal aaye…"). Instantly, the babu takes the papers and signs on them ("…aur ye penalty corner…"). He then asks a peon to take the papers to the officer, and as the peon disappears with the papers, the VO booms, "…aur ye goal… Bharat jeet gaya!"
Talking about the campaign, an Enterprise Nexus spokesperson says, "If you look at all the ads done for TOI in the past, a topical situation prevailing in the country has been chosen. Politicians visiting the city (the 'arch' ad), Sachin Tendulkar being sponsored by various companies, corruption in Government offices… All of them portray a typical day of ones' life in India."
Some feel this campaign is aimed at shedding TOI's 'pro-establishment' image by giving it a crusader appeal, while others look at it as a depiction of the it-happens-only-in-India-and-can't-be-helped syndrome. The Enterprise spokesperson agrees with the latter. "It is an attempt to show how the idiosyncrasies are a part of India, and how people have come to accept them. TOI just highlights this in a humorous fashion," she says.
"Being the market leader, TOI can afford to talk beyond numbers. Every media planner today knows that he cannot afford to be out of TOI if he is planning any activity in Mumbai or Delhi. The consumer too is aware of the credibility TOI stands for, and considers the paper as an integral part of her life. The corporate advertising basically reiterates the leadership position," she explains.
Agency : Enterprise Nexus, Mumbai
Creative : Mohammed Khan, Zarwan Patel, Prashant Godbole
Production House : Highlight
Filmmaker : Prasoon Pandey
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