"Women cannot write the best Imperial Blue films": Ogilvy's Ajay Gahlaut on 'Men will be men' ads

By Suraj Ramnath , afaqs!, Mumbai | In Advertising | January 09, 2017
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"Not because they're not talented! It's because they don't think like men," clarifies the witty adman.

19 years back Ogilvy & Mather cracked a tagline which in a way is true, 'Men Will Be Men' for Pernod Ricard's 'Music CDs' brand - Seagram's Imperial Blue. The brand came up with its first TVC in 1999 and has been advertising on TV and other multimedia platforms with the famous tagline. The ads made by Ogilvy & Mather are funny and relatable that it focuses on how men actually think.

The brand's primary target audience comprises men across all age groups.

Seagram's Imperial Blue recently launched three new TVCs under its famous tagline. We asked Ajay Gahlaut, executive creative director, Ogilvy & Mather, Delhi about how difficult it is to get a different angle every time they make an ad under the same theme.

He says, "It is not easy and we don't want to make it easy. There are lots of male insights but we don't want to go with the obvious ones because that is not too entertaining. We want to go with stuff that people haven't thought about but when they actually see it happen, they say "Oh ya, this happens, man!" That's where you get maximum engagement and connection. It is not easy but it is fun to do so."

In the office TVC, we see that three colleagues (2 men and a lady) brainstorming about work and suddenly the men hear the sound of a shoe heel rapping against the floor (during which the two line ghazal written by Gahlaut himself starts playing) and look at each other's face out of excitement thinking it is a lady who is walking in the corridor and when one of them curiously looks outside to find out, he is shattered to see that it is one of their male colleagues who was walking.

Ajay Gahlaut

Talking about the insight of the ad, Gahlaut says, "The office ad is based on a true story - it actually happened with us. We were actually working on Imperial Blue, trying to come up with something different and then suddenly we heard the sound of heels. We imagined some sexy woman walking down the corridor and we got real quiet and thought let's see who this is and it happened to be a male colleague of ours. It was so disappointing and we all looked at each other."

About the now famous ghazal he says, "I have written the ghazal 'Pyaar Ki Rah Me Chalna Seekh'. It is just two lines but the fun part is people have just loved those two lines and they search for the song and they have discussion forums. This year I am going to complete the song and will launch it."

The other two ads too, have insights from real life incidents, says Gahlaut. "Every ad that we have done resonates with real life incidents. For instance, the aircraft ad could have happened to any guy. Right from adolescence, boys dream of a really good-looking and sexy woman sharing space with them and it never happens. It just never happens. You only keep dreaming about it. It is a very male thing that all men will relate to."

Interestingly, most of the ads under the 'Men Will Be Men' campaign make fun of men and the way they think without showing them in negative light. About the challenge, Gahlaut says, "The challenge lies in treading the correct path and that comes from having done this for so long. So you know this territory is nice and will get people to smile and laugh without offending anyone."

What about offending the womenfolk? "You got to be very careful," he warns, adding, "The idea is to keep it tongue-in-cheek but stay away from being sexist and offensive.. The richness lies in the territory that makes them entertaining so that even women love the 'Men Will Be Men' campaign."

According to Gahlaut, only a man can write the best Imperial Blue film. He says, the best Imperial Blue films are those where the woman gets a little upset and a woman cannot write these. "Not because they are not talented enough but because they are women and they don't think like men. Hence 'Men Will Be Men'," guffaws the adman.

We asked Gahlaut about whether the 'Men Will Be Men' tagline is too strong and whether it overshadows Imperial Blue as a brand.

He says, "There is always the risk. People remember what they are interested in and what they are engaged by. They remember the song because they are entertained by it and identify with the story. It is not like nobody remembers Imperial Blue. It is just that a lot of people remember and some people don't but that's a risk with any brand. There are a lot of ads which people say "Acha hai par kiska hai yaad nahi" (Nice ad but don't remember the brand). We try and make sure that we guard against that but you will never get 100 per cent. With Imperial Blue I haven't found it to be that much of a problem."

Talking about Imperial Blue's positioning compared to other brands in this category, Gahlaut opines, "Each brand in this space has a different character, it has a different price point, therefore it has a different target audience. As each brand has its own space, Imperial Blue has its own space in the category."

Time to show different shades of men

KV Sridhar

According to KV Sridhar (Pops), founder and chief creative officer, Hyper Collective, the initial films for 'Men Will Be Men' directed by Prasoon Pandey were brilliant. He says, "The belly going inside, The diamond ring and party at home, they were all beautifully crafted. The situations of the new ads are fine but it is short of that kind of crafting."

Pops adds, "The time has come for the brand to refresh the angle of portraying men as men because there are so many emotions they have. They can explore men not in just a sexist view but in the various emotions of a man."

"ICICI Prudential had done an ad Bande ache hain, which showcased the different shades of men," he remembers.

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