afaqs!

Too warm for comfort?

By Shibani Gharat , afaqs!, Mumbai | In Advertising | December 01, 2011
The new TVC for Amul Body Warmer amplifies winters in India. afaqs! finds out whether the TVC lays it on thick, or merely warms up with creative liberty.

The colour grey, dark textures, human beings clad in woollens, and bonfires are all symbolic of the winter season. However, in the advertising world, the onset of winter follows on the cue of a bevy of body warmers or thermal wear ads. Amul Body Warmer's recent TV commercial, which features an old man lying on his death bed, has used the usual symbols.

The grey texture stays, the members of the old man's family are clad in woollens, and a bonfire is lit using the wooden furniture of the house. To keep the bonfire going, the old man's bed, which is also a family heirloom, is ultimately dragged out. The message given out in the end is that had the family worn Amul Body Warmers, they could have easily battled the cold, and there would be no need to burn the family heirloom.

The TVC is created by Ogilvy India, which is also the agency behind the quirky Amul Macho ads of J G Hosiery.

In the ad, winter in India is exaggerated and is taken to the next level.

"Exaggeration is fine if it makes a point. One is allowed to take advantage of creative liberty," says Santosh Padhi, chief creative officer and co-founder, Taproot India. However, Padhi feels that the ad is weakly executed. "I do not understand the need to throw the family heirloom when the wooden windows and doors are still around. Why doesn't the family simply pick those up and throw them in the fire?" observes Padhi.

The thermal wear category has witnessed intense exaggeration in the past. Rupa Thermocot's ad, based in mountainous terrain, featured a little boy saying 'Sardi main laye garmi', followed by a female model saying 'It's very very hot'. Amul Body Warmer's earlier TVC claimed that it provided 'Kamaal ka garam' and showed a chicken hatching out of an egg placed inside Amul's body-warming T-shirt.

A few years ago, with the 'Thandi' ad, the brand had compared life before and after Amul Body Warmer. This TVC featured a family posing for a photo, students in a class, actors enacting Draupadi's 'vastra-haran' sequence, a pole dancer and her audience in the bar, all covered from head to toe with blankets. With the entry of Amul Body Warmers, the scenario was transformed and all the mentioned sequences were repeated, sans the blankets!

A series of Lux Cottswool ads portrayed actor Boman Irani in different avatars, which had the actor in the role of a hair dryer, a room heater, and a water heater. He effectively heated up the elements around him just by wearing a Lux Cottswool garment. There was a series of other ads featuring actor Satish Kaushik and Paresh Rawal respectively, both communications showing how Lux Cottswool was instrumental in bringing 'Sardi mein garmi ka ehsas'(a feel of warmth in winter).

Padhi feels that the category has done a lot of exaggeration in the past, while citing the example of the egg-hatching TVC. "Advertisers either exaggerate the problem, or exaggerate the solution," he says.

Ramanuj Shastry, national creative director, Saatchi & Saatchi, on the other hand, feels that the whole idea is to demonstrate that it is so cold that you need a body warmer. "On one hand, they show relief, while on the other hand, they show exaggeration," he adds.

Short winters in India

The winter season lasts only a couple of months in India. Hence, the market for any kind of thermal wear is very seasonal and temporary. "It has a very small window for sale and tries to hammer all its communication in the little time that it has," explains Shastry.

Exaggeration to grab attention

Josy Paul, chairperson and chief creative officer, BBDO India, feels that exaggeration is a dramatisation of the truth. "It's a way to grab eyeballs to underline the point -- not just in advertising, but also in life. It's a human response that cries for attention. Like a baby's high-decibel scream or the over-the-top arrangements at weddings -- exaggeration is life shouting to be heard," he comments.

Paul gives the example of the television news shows. He says, "Just look at our news channels -- the reporters and news readers are screaming as if it is a violent rock show. That's what I call extreme exaggeration." Advertising is tame in comparison, says Paul, defending advertising.

"Exaggeration is a suspension of disbelief," opines Saji Abraham, vice-president, planning, Lowe Lintas. The category is such that you cannot expect anything but exaggeration. There needs to be something dramatic to grab attention within a short span of time.

A different take?

"Most players in the market are doing something on the lines of winter looking like summer," defends Abhijit Avasthi, national creative director, Ogilvy India. Avasthi has worked closely on the current TVC of Amul Body Warmer. Speaking about the concept, he says, "It is the story of a loving family that was moved to take an extreme measure and throw the family heirloom -- the bed -- into the fire."

Referring to the extreme cold in North India, Avasthi mentions how it bites into the human body.

"Other brands exaggerate the positive effects of wearing something warm. We have exaggerated the winters and extreme cold, hence the need to wear something warm," adds Avasthi.

"This ad, though exaggerated, has a different approach," adds Abraham. But, he is also of the opinion that it is high time the category tried something new and different. "It could opt for testimonial advertising or even celebrity endorsements. One can also build an entire story around the product," Abraham concludes.

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