You are watching your favourite show and the commercial break comes on when you decide to leave your seat to get your bath water ready. Eyes still on the television, you suddenly find yourself tracing back your steps, your interest suddenly piqued by the commercial that is being aired.
Bite-size stories, not ads evoke an emotion
Possibly the fondest memory that you have of a product is not necessarily that of the product itself, but of the emotion that it was able to invoke in you. In movie theatres (between popcorn munches) you would occasionally come across the 'softie' digging into their partner's shoulder during an emotional scene. In a similar manner, the audience would like to reach for their handkerchief or have an off-hand joke thrown at them to make them smile or even take them down memory lane enriching their day a little more.
Think about it...didn't you feel like calling your granny after watching the latest 'Fortune Oil' TVC? The audience constantly seeks to connect. India as a nation has grown up with mythological and folk tales at the core. Helping us relieve emotions that are innate to us, emotional ads have surely created a special place in our minds. Going down memory lane, ads such as 'Hamara Bajaj' invoked pride in the economic progress of the country, while others such as 'Dalda' (that adorable child saying 'jalebi?') have helped us visit anger, surprise and happiness at the same time.
Whether it's the launch of a latest automobile model or a new variety of food, the audience likes to envision what they would feel should they be in the place of the protagonist in the commercial. If they are able to fit into the story line and see themselves in that place, they are certainly more convinced of the product as a solution to their particular needs. Moreover, in this digital age with multiple channels of communication, the human touch plays a great part in breaking through the marketing clutter.
Power of the Mascot
'Ishi kare, ishi karon...he he he!' Didn't understand a word, did you? Yet, this language of the ZooZoos, the popular mascot from Vodafone (yes, you already knew that) was music to our ears. Whereas the concept of the word 'mascot' originally emerged from a French philosopher Edmond Audron's opera series named La Mascotte (1880), brands all over the world have adapted and made mascots the storytellers for the masses.
Apart from adding value to the brand identity, mascots have steadily acquired an identity as a person. Did you know that the Amul Girl was born in 1967? Today, 47 years later, she is one of the most popular brand mascots in India and an active participant commenting on social, political and sporting activities in India. It is not difficult to remember the tag line of 'Utterly butterly delicious - Amul' on sighting her. Double brownie points for the brand!
The use of mascots has not only helped increase longevity of brand recall, but has also helped to expand beyond the realm of advertising to the consumer. For example, Coca-Cola's Santa Claus (red and white to match the colour of the brand) was so loved by consumers that they paid very close attention to the commercials - so much so that when anything changed, they sent letters to The Coca-Cola Company. This included when Santa's belt was backwards and even when he was pictured without his ring (What happened to Mrs. Claus?!!) Fictional or real, mascots add the 'wow' and 'how' factor often doubling up as on screen solution providers to the consumer.
"Oh! I didn't know that was even possible!" Just as sudden twists in movies excite us, we want to see something exciting in an ad campaign as well. Brands like Surf Excel were able to capture the attention of the audience through this. That's how you have children celebrating in dirt than being afraid of it. How about the Happy Dent white ad showing you the main protagonist running across to keep his date with the focus being on light? This surely increased your interest in watching the campaign till the end!
Just seven seconds
"Har ek friend Kameena Hota Hai". Yes, this Bollywood song was released way after Airtel's "Har ek friend Zaroori Hota Hai". Surely if you did not hum to this tune, you would have definitely seen it splurged across sms jokes and status updates, forcing you to remember the tune each time it was written. This jingle not only created a fond recall for the brand but resonated through college hallways and peaked on friendship day! Who doesn't love being wowed by some awesome music?
According to a 2014 Consumer Report by Nielsen, the first seven seconds of an ad are the most crucial in capturing a consumer's attention and can boost a consumer's opinion of the brand by 15 to 20 per cent. Music features here, and an instant connection is made. Remember Hema, Rekha, Jaya aur Sushma? Yes, surely as kids we have sung that jingle to our classmates sharing the same name! How about Idea's 'Hunny Bunny?' Not only on your TV set, this one stayed with us on caller tunes and ring tones!
Ah! So is the selfie trending? Or is it about the big muscular body? Ads are often a reflection of popular culture in society. That is why you probably see celebs taking selfies or doing the 'in thing' to stay connected to the audience. In essence, culture means the ideas, customs, and social behaviour of a particular people or society. So if you smirked at the Imperial Blue 'men will be men' commercial it's possibly because you have seen that happen around you.
As a consumer, your comfort level with the brand increases when you experience familiar situations taking place. Be it the language or the design elements utilised in the ads, several ad campaigns have been tweaked in order to give a feeling of familiarity to the consumer. 'Kanna keep calm' was Pepsi IPL 2014's tagline referring to situations you can get stuck and offering the best alternative.
How about Vodafone portraying the 'open book' life of the girl through social networking? Yes, we have been there, done that so we can relate. Similarly ads such as Flipkart's 'No Kidding' explored how our precious little ones seem to be growing up so fast that they can actually be imagined being bothered with adult tensions.
So what is the solution to the perfect ad you may ask? While most ads will successfully combine two or three of the above elements, sometimes the audience can be taken by storm even when the focus is just on a single aspect of the ad. Being rooted in in-depth consumer research and plain connecting with your audience helps create memorable ad campaigns.
(The author is the founder and creative director of Eeksaurus, a production house)