A young man drives into a bar with his bike. He walks up to the barman and says, "Give me Red". What ensues afterwards is that everything turns red. Everyone at the bar is shell shocked. The electric drink moves across the table to the man who asked for it.
The ad, shot in 1992, was a very electric and spunky advert then and grew to become a consumer cry.
Eveready has come up with a new ad now for Eveready Ultima, a variant.
A century old company, Eveready Industries was set up in India by Union Carbide. The 'cat with nine lives' logo was also created by the parent company.
In 1992, Rediffusion Y&R, the agency on record, cracked the 'Give me Red' tagline that the brand continues to use.
In 2004, Amitabh Bachchan was appointed as brand ambassador for a period of two years, during which the agency came up with another 'Give me Red' campaign.
The brand has kept a low profile over the past few years. Following the Bachchan ads, it was only earlier this year that Eveready released an ad titled 'Boxing'.
Keeping it light
The commercial starts with a super that informs viewers that the ad that they are about to view has been created using torches, LED lights and digicams powered by Eveready Ultima batteries.
The film shows outlines of people (smiley faces, like emoticons) made out of a flash light, as they sit on a couch and watch TV. The figure is created by repeatedly moving a flash light in the desired shape. As they watch the idiot box, a mouse (again an outline) eats up their food. To take revenge, they draw a cat (the Eveready cat) with another torch, which comes to life and goes after the mouse. A chase along alleys follows till ultimately, the cat catches up with the mouse.
According to the Rediffusion Y&R team, the ad is a product demonstration to show off the power of the Ultima range of batteries.
The camera is set on long exposure and as everything is caught in slow motion, the trail of the light can be seen. This is also referred to as light painting. This art of light painting - called Pikapika - is believed to have started in 2003 by a Japanese crew of lightning doodle artists.
Anandaroop Ghosh, creative director, Rediffusion Y&R, tells afaqs! that since most of the youth gadgets of today do not require a battery to charge up, it was difficult to establish a connect with them. Which is when the agency realised that to re-establish a connect, it would have to take a lateral leap.
"That's why we made a commercial that used only batteries to run the equipment," explains Ghosh.
The film has been directed by Frank Vroegop. Two production houses worked on it, Happy Dog (India) and Dynamo F. S from Paris.
Ready, steady, go
An important objective of the campaign is to bring back the imagery of 'Give me Red'.
Back in the 1990's, the slogan spelt aggression, attitude and spunk. V Shantakumar, chairperson, Saatchi & Saatchi India, was the creative director at Rediffusion Y&R back when the idea was cracked.
When asked whether the new lives up to the old sheen, Shantakumar says that he doesn't see the same imagery of Give me Red. Furthermore, he feels that this effort is more suited to be a viral than a TVC, considering the consumer today has moved beyond convention and is co-creating. "But I guess the brand is probably at a different stage now," he allows.
Partha Biswas, senior general manager, marketing, Eveready Batteries India, says that the consumer has evolved since the early Eveready days, and is prepared for such 'clever' advertising.
The brand has planned college and school events for greater involvement with the youth. The school activity, titled Eveready Ultima Inventor Contest, is a platform for school children to invent something simple that will use a dry cell battery. The light painting will be extended to colleges.
While the Red Lightpainters paint TV screens in India, ad folk reminisce about another ad which, not too long ago, used a similar technique of light painting in its communication - the Sprint Ahead TVC created by Goodby, Silverstein & Partners for the US mobile service provider, Sprint, in 2007. While the idea is different, the execution is in the same space.
Naren Multani, films division head, McCann Erickson, says, "The execution route taken by Eveready has an uncanny resemblance to the Sprint Ahead commercial."
Multani, though, is impressed with the attempt. "It definitely is very 'today'," he states.
Another ad filmmaker, Sainath Chowdhary of Corcoise Films, feels that it's the first time the technique of Pikapika is being used in India. However, he doesn't see the connection of the story with the brand. "You could use that technique with any other high power battery - it isn't anything unique to Eveready," he says.
KV Sridhar aka Pops, national creative director, Leo Burnett, applauds the attempt of using light to create the entire ad, though he is quick to add that it could have been better in terms of execution.
With a little prodding, he admits, "A story is probably what's missing. It could've been much more entertaining." However, he hopes the brand takes ahead the light painting thought.
Naresh Gupta, executive vice-president, strategic planning, Publicis India, is on the same chord as Pops: that the ad lacks a story to tell, product demo notwithstanding. Gupta sees two briefs working its way in the same ad - one that tries to say that Eveready now has a battery with better power, and the other that tries to resurrect 'Give me Red'.
All said and done, Gupta feels that the cat and mouse chase and the execution should go down well with Eveready's target group.