Thums Up: Action in your imagination

By Neha Kalra , afaqs!, New Delhi | In Advertising | September 04, 2009
The new Thums Up commercial is not action packed - something which is unlikely for the brand. afaqs! wonders at the lack of action

When a Thums Up advertisement is missing on action, one probably misses that it is a Thums Up commercial! The kinship of action with this strong masculine brand has been established through numerous ads for many years. For the first time, Akshay Kumar, the face of the brand, is not seen whizzing through streets or jumping off rooftops - afaqs! finds out why this deliberate effort to keep the action away.

Creative 'Mil gaya, boss!'

The TV commercial opens on actor Akshay Kumar driving slowly through a street, displaying a lot of attitude. The onlookers are aghast. His car comes to a halt at a traffic signal. A youngster seated in another other car is anything but amused to see the actor in a battered BMW, which is literally falling to pieces. Extremely pleased at being able to get hold of a bottle of Thums Up, Kumar shares his victory with the young man, saying, "Mil gaya, boss!"

His battered BMW takes to the road again to reach his girlfriend's house. He's still brushing off a flame on his shoulder when he rings the bell. She catches him at it when she opens the door, with a 'you're not going to change, are you?' look.

Kumar is happy to share the victory with her, too. While he's sipping his Thums Up, the natural question comes up, "Tum kuchch aur kyun nahi pee sakte (Why can't you drink something else)?" This time, silence is Kumar's choice and he lets her have a sip of the drink, too. After sipping the drink, the girl tugs at the bottle, while returning it to him half-heartedly. Kumar pulls it back with determination. The commercial ends with the Taste the Thunder signature music, and the logo.

Kashmira Chadha, director, marketing, Coca-Cola India, says that till now, it has been about what Kumar can do to get hold of a bottle of the drink that he simply can't do without. "This time, it's about two things - one, like always, the achievement; and second, about him enjoying the brand. If you notice, he shares the thrill with the young man in the other car and his girlfriend, too," she says.

Sainath Saraban, executive creative director, Leo Burnett explains that this time, the action is left to the imagination of the viewer. "We don't show Kumar running around for his Thums Up, but the clobbered BMW and the flame on his shoulder give a sense that he has done his bit for it."

Going unisex?

By offering the drink to his girlfriend in this commercial, one wonders if the brand is attempting at bringing in women as a part of the Thums Up brand space.

Thums Up is strictly a masculine brand and it will not take a unisex stance, Chadha says tersely. "It is about the ladies in each of the Thums Up commercials always being sceptical of Kumar running around for the drink. This time, it's about acceptance - an acceptance that the bottle is worth it."

The fact is that both males and females consume Thums Up. However, the communication has had a masculine flavour always, and if it requires involving the lady opposite Kumar as part of the thought, it will be that way.

One wonders if viewers will get to see a sequel of this piece of communication, with the woman being as much a part of the communication as Kumar. Chadha doesn't deny such a possibility.

Who's missing the action?

afaqs! spoke to a few professionals of the fraternity - quite a few of them have missed Kumar's tactics. Here's what they had to say:

Raj Nair, senior vice-president and executive creative director, Contract Advertising votes for the slick production, the shooting and the music. However he feels that the story is a tad predictable. "From the moment I see Akshay in his car with his Thums Up going 'Mil gaya, boss', I know why the car is banged up and why his jacket is smoking," he says.

However, for him, the bigger problem is that it seems like two different stories. The first is the beat up, falling apart car and the smoking jacket. Then, the arrival at home and the entire interplay with the girl and her half-hearted attempt to keep the Thums Up seems like another story entirely, he says. "The two don't really come together for me," he adds.

For Saumya Chattopadhyay, planning head, Rediffusion Y&R Mumbai, the entertainment quotient is way lower this time. "With the high adrenalin chase each time, you expect him to surpass the previous attempt. It is a trap that Thums Up has fallen into, but no one is complaining, with everyone looking forward to the next 'macho' commercial."

He adds that masculinity and adrenalin have grown to become the brand language for Thums Up. He highlights the attempt to rope in the woman and wonders if the brand is considering shifting from its male-centric positioning.

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