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AdAsia campaign goes whole hog in spoofing cult advertising

By , agencyfaqs! | In | September 16, 2003
The four-ad print campaign created by O&M is a takeoff on advertising that the global advertising fraternity has acknowledged as having broken new ground in brand communication


'Hello boys.' It was in 1995 that these perfectly harmless words first caught the attention of so many red-blooded males and roused, among other things, a mini storm in world advertising. For accompanying the words was a racy picture of curvaceous Czech model Eva Herzigova, wearing a vixen smile, a pushup bra and oodles of oomph. Recall for Wonderbra soared, and the campaign went down in advertising history as one of the most audacious ever.

'Hello boys.' The stirring words have been staring at us from Indian publications over the past week or so. But far from raising a storm locally - with assorted regiments of our moral police baying for ban and blood - the ad has been received like any other. For the simple reason that the picture alongside isn't that of a cleavage-displaying Eva, but one of a dusky Rajasthani village belle smiling into the camera, traditional choli and ghunghat firmly in place. The occasion: AdAsia 2003.

This takeoff on the Wonderbra ad is part of a four-ad print campaign that O&M India has created for the upcoming Asian advertising congress being held in Jaipur, Rajasthan, from November 10 to 14. And it's not just Wonderbra that has been spoofed. The entire campaign is a takeoff on legendary advertising; advertising that the global advertising fraternity has acknowledged as having broken new ground in brand communication.

So one of the spoofs shows the weather-beaten face of old Rajasthani man, beside which the copy runs: '"I never read The Economist." - Camel trader, Aged 72.' The third ad has the visual of one of those sadhus-by-the-bathing-ghaat, seated in one of those impossible yoga postures. The line aptly reads, 'It's got to be Guinness.' The fourth ad shows the picture of Jaipur's famed Hawa Mahal. Look closely, and you notice that one of the windows in the centre is shaped like a telltale bottle. 'Absolut Jaipur.'

The campaign is not limited to print - three radio spots and a television commercial are scheduled to break through this week. An utterly bizarre rendition of Budweiser's famous 'Wassup' campaign (created by DDB, Chicago), the television commercial is about this banal telephonic conversation between an anachronistic maharaja and a guy getting a shave. Their conversation quickly assumes manic proportions, with the rustic populace screaming itself hoarse wanting to know 'Wassup?' Describing the ad - produced by Corcoise Films, directed by Apurva Lakhia and dubbed brilliantly by Chetan Shashital - won't be doing justice to it, so let it suffice to say that the answer to 'Wassup?' is suitably addressed by this 'modern-day town-crier', who informs everyone about what to expect at Jaipur in November. The radio spots, though funny, are less spaced-out, and aren't really spoofs.

The idea of doing spoofs wasn't part of the brief. In fact, there really wasn't any specific brief to speak of. "As the chairperson of the AdAsia Advertising & Publicity Committee, the responsibility of creating a buzz around the event fell on me," says Piyush Pandey, group president & national creative director, O&M India. "We had to create hype around Jaipur, around the event and around the fantastic lineup of speakers we are getting. The good part is when you are dealing with advertising-savvy people who know the game, you don't need much to start off with. We simply briefed Mahesh (V) and Rajiv (Rao) and their team, and told them to do something that was relevant to the event, that had a Rajasthan focus and that had high impact. The team came up with this idea of doing takeoffs on great advertising ideas. Given our target audience (the advertising and marketing communities), this made perfect sense, so we went ahead with it." He adds that the idea was "readily received by everyone" on the AdAsia committee.

The spoof idea was actually cracked by creative duo Sujit Unni and Santosh Patil. "Santosh and I are the laziest people around in advertising, and we love to find the easy way out," Unni laughs. "For the 'asterisk' ad (for the Cancer Patients Aid Association), we simply copy-pasted everything off the Net, and that got us a silver at Cannes, so we figured this works well. So when we were asked to do some cracker ads for AdAsia, we just figured that instead of outdoing other cracker ads from around the world, let us simply crack those cracker ads by putting a spin on them. All we had to do was find a link between these famous ads and Jaipur." He adds that they had some seven-eight 'spoof' ideas, of which four were finally taken.

Interestingly, the campaign started out purely as an exercise in print. "When Sujit and Santosh first cracked the idea, we were only looking at print," says Mahesh. "Then Sujit and I thought of this script for the film based on 'Wassup'. Piyush approved it. Then Piyush, Rajiv and I did the radio spots. The whole campaign has shaped up very well, and I am sure it will work for AdAsia." For his part, O&M's creative honcho sees value in stretching the idea across media. "We must do everything to give the event the importance and pride associated with having won the bid and brought AdAsia to India after 21 years," says Pandey. "This is a big thing for India, so let the world know." © 2003 agencyfaqs!

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