Admen call these clutter-breakers

By Anushree Bhattacharyya and Biprorshee Das , afaqs!, New Delhi | In Advertising | September 13, 2011
Creative ad professionals remember their creations for various reasons. We asked eight creative top shots about their favourites when it came to clutter-breaking ads that they had created. Each of them were asked to pick three that they are proud of.

Piyush Pandey

Executive Chairperson and Creative Director, Ogilvy South Asia

The three best ads in public opinion should be the Cadbury's Dairy Milk, Fevi Kwik and Asian Paints.

On Cadbury (Year 1994; Agency: Ogilvy)

I remember those were the days when the idea of adults eating chocolates was being pushed. On a visit to Disneyland and seeing two 80-year olds there reminded me of how the child within you always comes back.

In this TVC, a batsman hits a ball in the air. As the spectators, including his beloved (with a Dairy Milk in her hand), worry that the ball will be caught by the fielder, it sails over the boundary. The excited girlfriend catches everyone by surprise as she runs into the ground breaking into an impromptu jig.

I wrote this ad on my way back in the flight on my boarding pass.

Clutter-breaking factor: Age is no bar for chocolate.

Fevi Kwik (Year: 1998; Agency: Ogilvy)

I was in a regional board meeting in Bangkok. Numbers - that least interested me - were being discussed and I was busy taking notes. That is when I hit upon the fishing idea. Taking a break, I took Ranjan Kapur aside and shared the idea with him asking him what he thought of it.

The film showed a suave looking man being disturbed by a loud South Indian while fishing. The latter, nonchalantly, puts three drops of Fevi Kwik on a piece of wood that he dips in the water and, much to the amazement of the tired-looking fisherman, pulls out four fish stuck to the wood. The ad put forward the Chutki Mein Chipkaye proposition of the brand. And it stuck in minds.

Clutter-breaking factor: New meaning to the word Catch.

Asian Paints (Year: 2002; Agency: Ogilvy)

This ad was written at a time when we just moved in to our new apartment. My wife designed the interior and the thought used in the ad was on the back of my mind all the time. Every house owner is always very proud of it. It is very personal.

This film featured a mosaic of shots of a home where lives a loving family. A voiceover said how every home speaks a lot about who stays within introducing the Har Ghar Kuch Kehta Hai proposition of the brand.

Clutter-breaking factor: The personal touch of a house-owner.

KV Sridhar

NCD, Leo Burnett

I will talk about three films made in three different eras.

Taj Mahal (Year: 1987; Agency: JWT)

At a time where most brands were trying the western route by going for a more westernised appeal, Taj Mahal decided to break away and adopt a desi feel. It was in 1987 that for the first time a campaign featuring tabla maestro Zakir Hussain was launched with the famous punchline - Wah Taj.

At the research stage for the campaign, we found that a small packet of tea (then available for 10 paise) lasts you for a whole day and people - especially daily labourers - took pride in having it. Therefore, we decided to give the brand a more Indianised look. It was a tough call and a very courageous decision for a premium brand like Taj to latch on to something Indian. It went on to become very popular and is still used today - only now, the campaign features other key personalities.

For this campaign I worked with my partner K S Chakravarthy at JWT and Dharen Chadha, the then marketing consultant.

Clutter-breaking factor: Indianising a premium brand.

Saint Gobain (Year 2001; Agency: Lowe Lintas)

We created a TVC that showed two men eating in a restaurant. Suddenly, one of them looks worried as he spots a black woman poised to throw a bucket of water at them. The woman walks up and throws the water. As both of them try to get out of the way frantically they realise that there is a glass in between and the woman was only trying to clean it. The idea was based on the thought that nobody takes glass seriously.

Another part to the story is that I felt bad that almost 60-70 per cent of the client's budget was being misused and also he was being over-charged. Therefore, I took it up as a challenge upon me to create something interesting - we shot the film for just Rs 8 lakh.

The idea was to break the perception of Saint Gobain being a brand from Ludhiana. The task here was to show a foreign brand as a foreign brand - Saint Gobain was a French company. At that time, most of the Indian brands tried to look foreign. The TVC became a hit and was an aired in 10-12 other countries too.

Clutter-breaking factor: Glass as the cornerstone.

Thums Up (Year: 2006; Agency: Leo Burnett)

This was made at a time when the soft drink industry was under attack after there were reports about soft drinks containing pesticide. So we used a 60-year-old man holding a bottle of Thums Up explaining why he has been drinking it regularly over the last 30 years despite people asking him to reduce the intake. He admits that though he cannot claim to live longer (drinking Thums Up) but those who are happy will live longer. Next, he is shown bungee jumping.

In a way, the TVC put an end to all sorts of controversies. It was a breakthrough for the rest of the soft drinks brands too. This one campaign is very dear to me.

Clutter-breaking factor: Clear, direct message.

Prasoon Joshi

Executive Chairperson, McCann Worldgroup India

Chlormint (Year: 2005; Agency: McCann Erickson)

We created a landmark series of films such as the paanwalla TVC - where a young man comes to buy paan and also gets a Chlormint as the paanwalla does not have change. He asks the paanwalla,"Why do we eat Chlormint?" To which, the suddenly-angered paanwalla holds the man's head and dunks it in a bucket of water thrice, saying, Dobara mat poochna (Don't ever ask again).

The challenge was to mask the main idea which is about 'bad breath' - the reason why Chlormint is eaten. We suspended the logic and turned it into a fun brand by saying that we don't need a bad reason to have Chlormint. We created a bizzare concept and language since the question is as absurd as the answer. The idea became so popular that, during the Football World Cup, virals were made based on Zidane's famous head-butt.

Clutter-breaking factor: Masking the 'bad breath' proposition cleverly.

Saffola (Year: 2006; Agency: McCann Erickson)

Before it came to McCann, Saffola was a brand based on the notion of fear. We changed this notion by asking people to use Saffola out of love, not fear. Consume it for the health of your family.

The campaign showed a thief running after snatching a woman's purse. Her husband chases after him but fails to match the pace and falls behind. But he does not accept this and thinks up an excuse. This is where we say that it is time to change. The campaign had many more legs to it and I am proud to say that we were able to create a sound communication strategy.

Clutter-breaking factor: Converting fear into love.

Media Brands - NDTV (2003) and Radio Mirchi (2005), McCann Erickson

There are two other campaigns close to me as I have been involved in both brands since their inception. The first is NDTV - which started off as a separate channel after Prannoy Roy broke with Star. I met Roy and conceptualised the entire campaign, Khabar Wohi Jo Sach Dikhaye (platform of truth). While creating the campaign, the challenge was to use existing footage, as the company did not have a lavish budget for the launch. Then we launched the next campaign Shuruaat to karo, badlega India which later went to become a programme for the channel.

The other media brand that I worked since its launch is Radio Mirchi. Launched in various parts of the country, we created the brand's image as a happy one and hence I wrote the line Radio Mirchi sunnewalle always kush'.

Clutter-breaking factor: New-launch excitement.

Josy Paul

Chairman and NCD, BBDO India

It is important to note that these campaigns were done with friends and colleagues.

Gillette WALS (Year: 2009; Agency: BBDO India)

The campaign got over $2.5 million worth of free media conversation, and a place in the Guinness Book of Records and quite a few awards.

Nielsen research indicated that 77 per cent women prefer clean-shaven men. So (we thought) why not make women the crusaders for shaving? This led to a women's lobby group called WALS - Women Against Lazy Stubble. The Facebook page was inundated with messages of support and we realised that we'd struck a nerve. There was energy in the idea. This led to all partners - digital, PR, activation - growing and expanding the idea to create a movement that generated much engagement and buzz.

Clutter-breaking factor: Women becoming crusaders of shaving.

Quaker (Year: 2009-10; Agency: BBDO India)

We chanced upon a news report from WHO that said - 60 per cent of the world's heart patients will be from India'. This was the trigger. India needed Quaker Oats, which reduces cholesterol. What if we created a digital platform that provides a useful service? What if we let Indians to take a free online heart health test? What if we engage people and provide information and advice from experts to help them manage and control their cholesterol levels.? Thus was born Quaker Mission to Make India Heart Healthy in collaboration with Apollo Hospitals and The Times Of India.

Clutter-breaking factor: Going into the heart of a country.

Alpenliebe Lollipop (Year: 2005-06; Agency: rmg David)

It started as a series of films that created a huge buzz. The phrase, Lagey Raho, soon became part of popular culture. A few months after the campaign, we were thrilled to see Raju Hirani release the movie, Lagey Raho Munnabhai.

Alpenliebe Lollipop had an advantage over other lollipops. It lasts longer. This gave rise to the clever catch phrase Lagey Raho. The first film was an entertaining story of a mother who solves her son's thumb-sucking problem by using the product. It was the client's (Mr Ashok Dhingra) idea to turn the phrase into a cult statement by creating many short films. Alpenliebe became the No. 1 lollipop brand beating the leader within a year of launch.

Clutter-breaking factor: Longevity with desi catchphrase.

Priti Nair

Founder and Director, Curry Nation

These ads were made by a collection of enormously talented, enormously mad people who were completely committed to doing something meaningful.

Balbir Pasha (Year: 2003-04; Agency: Lowe Lintas)

It was a pitch on HIV-AIDS awareness. We had no idea where to begin. How do we do something that will really make a difference? Our intention was not merely to win the pitch - we wanted to get something there that would work for the people at risk.

It all happened one day when we got back after interviewing the TG. It opened our eyes to see how impossible it was for them to believe that they could get infected. We did a 360-degree campaign that was thought through entirely. We even shot scratch films for the presentation and got the business. And for the first time, at least in my career, the client stood by us, backed us fully and ran the campaign that was presented in the pitch.

Here, for the first time, was an HIV/AIDS communication that didn't preach and tell people to stop what they are doing. Instead, it acknowledged what they were doing and told them how dangerous it was. This woke up the whole target we spoke to and even others. Balbir Pasha soon became a bad word in Hindi.

Clutter-breaking factor: An HIV-AIDS communication that did not preach.

Surf Excel (Year: 2005; Agency: Lowe Lintas)

It was the launch of the 'Dirt is Good' campaign in India. Typically, you launch a global idea with a large-scale kind of 'ra ra'. But we decided to go tell a charming story that would touch the heart.

The fact that the mother accepts the idea of Daag acche hain had to be done in a manner where she sees the good that the child does. No washing, no mother being upset about stains. It was just a lovely endearing story. Again, a detergent commercial that didn't show what you always see.

This changed how people looked at detergent advertising. We had creative people wanting to work on the category and directors wanting to direct films for this brand, which is a big achievement.

Clutter-breaking factor: Making dirt look clean.

Greenply (Year: 2005; Agency: Lowe Lintas)

A non-involvement category, we needed something that brought the brand to high saliency. Funnily enough, this was a shelved script that we resurrected.

I played a true creative director role on this. For the first time, you saw a Sardar speaking Tamil. And, all the way, the story hinged on the product proposition. It is one of the most remembered commercials in this category. It boosted the saliency of the ply brand and boosted sales. Even today, it brings about the same emotion from people as it did then.

Clutter-breaking factor: A Sikh speaking Tamil while story hinged on the product proposition.

Satbir Singh

Managing Partner and Chief Creative Officer, Euro RSCG India

Red FM (Year: 2005; Agency: Euro RSCG)

I'm quite happy with my work for Red FM. A few years ago, the FM space comprised parity offerings. What's probably worse was the fact that even in image terms, there wasn't any differentiation.

That's where Bajaate Raho broke through the clutter like a hot chain-saw through a tonne of butter.

Funnily enough, a few top actors including Junior B refused to endorse it in soundbytes saying Bajaate Raho was a tad risqué Look at where it's gone today. Red is the only aggressively different station there is.

Clutter-breaking factor: Taking a chance with risqué.

Incredible India (Year: 2003-04; Agency: Ogilvy)

I'm very proud of the Incredible !ndia work that I created with V Sunil. Most of it hasn't been seen in India as the TA is the travelling foreigner. It was massively successful and created a distinct upmarket position for our country. It turned India into a destination for your mind, body and soul.

What I find funny is the number of people who claim to have created it! But if you pick up Amitabh Kant's acclaimed book Branding India, you can see most of my work there!

Clutter-breaking factor: Rediscovering India.

Harvest Gold (Year: 1997-98 Agency: Equus Red Cell)

If you're from Delhi you would have seen the Harvest Gold campaign, probably the longest-running newspaper campaign in this country. Harvest Gold was a newcomer in the world of breads. I started the limerick campaign which turned the bread into a household name within weeks.

Swapan Seth has been relentlessly churning out delicious stuff for the last 12-13 years. The campaign caught Delhi's fancy so much that school kids started maintaining guard books from newspaper cuttings of the weekly ad. Hundreds of people would write their own Limericks and mail them to us or the client.

The best thing was I put my own mugshot in the first one. Then my art partner Mrinal cribbed and we put his photo in too. What scared us was that the client might get upset so we put her headshot in as well and released the first ad!

Clutter-breaking factor: Limerick with a local flavour.

Gullu Sen

Advertising Professional

Maruti (Year: 2001; Agency: Rediffusion-Y&R)

Maruti was gearing up to face competition from foreign brands. So the idea was to talk about a unique proposition - the company's service network.

In order to turn it into an interesting proposition, I thought of a story where we showed two guys lost in Ladakh. The friends who are looking for food and boarding come across a young Ladakhi lad (Kancha) whom they ask about a place to stay. He says no to food and lodging but when they ask about a service station he points the way to the nearest Maruti service station. This ad really changed the perception regarding Maruti.

Clutter-breaking factor: The service station beats basic necessities.

HDFC Standard Life Insurance (Year 2005; Agency: Dentsu Communications)

It came to me from a personal experience when I once extended my hand to help my father but he refused it, saying, "I might be old, but I am not crippled." I realised that financial independence is about self-respect and has nothing to do with good living.

I conceptualised the TVC wherein a man goes to get his parents from the railway station. While getting off the train, the father refuses to accept his son's offer to help him out, as does his wife. At the platform, the old man's grandson trip and falls. However, the son stops his father from going to the rescue of the child. Sar uthake jiyo brings out the essence of a self-respecting family.

Clutter-breaking factor: Money is about self-respect, not lifestyle.

Toyota Innova (Year: 2005; Agency: Dentsu)

The main thought was to show the versatility of the car. We used characters from popular Aamir Khan movies (starting with Lagaan) to demonstrate the fact. Later, we launched another campaign that said: "How many roles are you playing today?" featuring Aamir Khan, once again.

Clutter-breaking factor: Versatility through the roles of an actor.

There is another ad that I would like to mention. It is not a TVC but the Airtel signature tune I created with A.R. Rahman and the first TVC I shot with him. The tune became the brand's mascot.

Sonal Dabral

Creative Head (Asia) and Chairman, Bates 141 India

Virgin Mobile (Year: 2010; Agency: Bates 141)

The first piece of work that comes to my mind is also the most recent of the three (thank God for that). It's the Indian Panga League campaign for Virgin Mobile.

The challenge was two-fold. How do you participate in the IPL with a budget that is minuscule compared to the biggies? Second, how do you talk about the low inter-state tariff in an engaging Virgin Mobile way? It was interesting and daunting. Thankfully, sometimes you don't need cash in your pocket, just ideas in your head.

I remember we were relaxing outside one of the studios at Film City when Mr Prasad Narasimhan, then chief marketing officer at Virgin, and our very daring client posed the problem to me. As soon as Prasad had finished talking I looked at him for a brief moment and rattled off the idea of friends who are loyal to different teams calling each other to take pangas. Like all big ideas it felt simple, fresh and clever.

Once the big idea was cracked we generated close to 300 scripts and ruthlessly cut them down to half and finally shot over a hundred. The campaign was released only on the web and became an instant hit. It not only won the hearts and minds of millions of cricket fans and our target audience, but also won us a slew of awards. That included an Abby Gold and the Yahoo Big Idea Chair.

Clutter-breaking factor: Using ordinary people and cricket teams, not cricketers.

Social Awareness - Anti Smoking (Year: 2000; Agency: Ogilvy, Malaysia)

I conceived this (The Journey) in Ogilvy Malaysia where I was the creative head at the time. I was on my way, with a senior colleague, for a rather difficult meeting. It was a hot day and the AC in his car was on full blast. I was a chain smoker and asked him if I could smoke. He looked at me and replied with obvious sarcasm "Let me be nice to you," before lowering the windows. Here, I was polluting his car and, there, he was, being nice to me. My mind got into top gear and I kept wondering why, if I'm polluting his car, is he being nice to me. There was conflict and drama in the line. By the time we reached the meeting I'd got the film.

An old man gives up his seat for a young guy who has just lit a cigarette in a crowded bus. Voice Over kicks in and says, "A person loses seven minutes of his life every time he lights a cigarette. Be nice to smokers because they don't have much time left." My dear friend Prasoon Pandey directed the commercial. It was an instant newsmaker the moment it started its run on TV. It also got me a Grand Prix at the Media Awards 'Spikes'.

Clutter-breaking factor: Slow build-up to a hard-hitting closing line.

FHM (Year: 2007; Agency: Ogilvy, Singapore)

This idea took birth when I was the executive creative director at Ogilvy Singapore. It was a print and poster campaign that we created for FHM.

The insight was a universal one. FHM is full of great centrespreads and photo features on such great looking models that no one should bother reading the magazine. All we did was to write ads using visuals. The headline, body copy and charts were made up of tiny pin-up girls in stages of undress. It was a clever, cheeky and sexy solution.

It became talked-about and got us tons of awards at major shows and with 2 Golds, helped me lead Ogilvy Singapore to the second runner up position for Agency of the Year at Cannes in 2008.

Clutter-breaking factor: Visuals as words.

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