Ashwini Gangal

Flashback 2010: The Good, the Bad and the Noisy!

afaqs! quizzes industry folk on the most memorable TV campaigns of 2010; we're calling them the 'Big Noise' TV campaigns of the year gone by.

Some television ads have a way of living on in the mind of the viewer. We asked our experts to think back and recall the TV ads aired last year, to find out which ones lingered on in their memory long after they were first aired. The reasons vary from visibility, popularity, spends, 'repeat watchability value' and the ability to amplify their effect with each airing.

Overall, 2010 turned out to be one big Ogilvy Gala as the agency's campaigns for Cadbury (Shubh Aarambh), Indian Railways and Vodafone (BlackBerry Boys) were loved by almost everyone. If Ogilvy had the starring role others were in no way inferior. Here's a round-up of the top five.

A job well begun

Cadbury's Shubh Aarambh ad campaign takes the cake, the bakery and the baker's big white hat. The three-film ad campaign has made it to the 'Top Five' list of all the eight creative heads we quizzed. Most voted in favour of the bus stop TVC, which portrays the start of a sweet little love story between two teenagers.

Flashback 2010: The Good, the Bad and the Noisy!
Flashback 2010: The Good, the Bad and the Noisy!
Flashback 2010: The Good, the Bad and the Noisy!
Flashback 2010: The Good, the Bad and the Noisy!
So what is it about this commercial that has managed to catch the fancy of so many seasoned ad men? Speaking specifically about the bus stop ad, Sagar Mahabaleshwarkar, national creative director, Bates 141 has this to say, "It was a lovely extension of the brand thought, Kuch meetha ho jaye. It is very easy to create communication for new brands but far more challenging to extend an existing thought forward with something new. And all this without losing the basic essence of the campaign."

Mahabaleshwarkar thinks that while this particular ad is "nice and fresh", all three films had great insight and have managed to tap into the right emotions. Others also agree. Ramanuj Shastry, national creative director, Saatchi & Saatchi, says that the Shubh Aarambh ad campaign has used great insights. "The bus stop TVC could have gone wrong in a nano second," Shastry enthuses, "but was handled beautifully." He adds that the film figures in his list because it is startling, sweet and romantic. "The guy in the film doesn't look anything like a loafer; in fact he looks like a bechaara. The bechaara to kameena twist was a good move," he explains.

Shastry however didn't care much for the other two Shubh Aarambh films. According to him, the two films that were broken after the bus stop one served to take the whole Shubh Aarambh campaign on a downward slide. Bobby Pawar, chief creative officer, Mudra Group, finds the bus stop film cute. Taking the explanation further, KV Sridhar, (Pops), national creative director, Leo Burnett India, says, "What's awesome is that the brand is trying to say 'Celebrate the attempt to succeed rather than celebrating success alone'. This is amazing as those who succeed are very few but the ones who attempt good things are plenty!" He adds that the campaign hits home in terms of strategy, positioning and casting.

Explains Santosh Padhi (Paddy), chief creative officer and co-founder, TapRoot India, "Good ideas are best kept simple and this TVC clearly reflects it. Steering away from the mandates and myths in this category, the television commercial beautifully integrates the great Indian insight of sweet beginnings with lovely casting that not only makes a difference to the film but in a subtle way also targets those that consume the most in this category."

He particularly likes the way the Indian touch has been slipped in during the part where the boy says "Meri maa hamesha...." Prasoon Joshi, executive chairperson, McCann Worldgroup India and regional creative director, McCann Asia Pacific, chips in with his take on the insights and calls it "nice and human," as does Satbir Singh, chief creative officer, Euro RSCG India.

KS Chakravarthy (Chax), national creative director, DraftFCB Ulka and McCann's Joshi adored the Shubh Aarambh campaign, but they don't rate the bus stop film as their favourite. Their choice is the 'slice of life' spot with the jeans-clad aunty who embraces modernity for the first time.

Chax says, "I thought pehle tareekh hai by Cadbury was a stumble - taking the brand away from the powerful association of chocolate with Kuch meetha ho jaye - Shubh Aarambh reclaims Cadbury's stake in the 'Great Indian Sweetstakes' with a vengeance." Joshi agrees, "A brand like Cadbury doesn't need to keep communicating product benefits - it needs to strike a deeper emotional chord and that is precisely what this campaign has done."

Men to boys

Vodafone's commercial for BlackBerry ('We are the BlackBerry Boys'), also Ogilvy's baby, came in second on the popularity stakes. Shastry is particularly amused with the fact that just one small little application - the BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) - managed to swing market sales in favour of the gadget.

He is also thrilled with the fact that this ad by Vodafone for BlackBerry (BB) is totally different from the existing ads for the phone. "Interestingly, this application is not even the main feature of the phone. That's why it's great to see how this app alone has changed phone-purchasing behaviour on part of the youth," he exclaims.

Pawar has something similar to say and calls the ad a brilliantly executed, catchy film that rides on a simple idea. "The phone was made for hardcore, no-nonsense professionals and was highly functional. The broadening of the TG (target group) beyond suited-booted corporate employees, however, is so much fun," he justifies his stand.

Pops gets personal with his appreciation for this ad as he uses a BB phone himself. He says the campaign gives him pride in using it. "I don't want to be an old fuddy-duddy uncle who uses the BB. I have lots of fun using it and this ad highlights this feeling of mine," he confesses. "It would have topped my list had it been created by BB itself instead of Vodafone," he complains nonetheless.

Right on track

Flashback 2010: The Good, the Bad and the Noisy!
Regarding Ogilvy's commercial for Indian Railways, TapRoot's Paddy feels that the ad is bang on, short, sweet, simple and very human. "For something that is part of every Indian's life, the product demo is charmingly delivered through a human train comprising folks from different groups of society," he says, reminiscing about how as kids we all have done this at some point in time.

He likes how such a simple human device is used to drive home the message. "The film is shot with a bit of raw earthiness which makes it more real and believable," Paddy adds. He also loved the base line, which in his opinion, is a big idea by itself. "They have picked the right track for this campaign - the voice of Ashok Kumar is apt for this situation; most of the time popular voices are used just because they are popular," he smiles.

Pops calls this ad 'a quintessential Piyush Pandey' and applauds the insight. "I don't remember when I travelled by train last but this ad makes me want to go again," he exclaims. When you are amongst the largest railway networks in the world and without any competition, you perhaps don't need to advertise is Singh's opinion. "This was a superb exhibition of simply endearing the brand to people. It evokes warmth and nostalgia," he says. For Singh, the sign-off, 'Desh Ka Mel- Bhartiya Rail' is the icing on the campaign.

Pawar, however, begs to differ. "This chuk chuk gaadi idea was a rather obvious one," he says but goes on to add that it was "nonetheless, executed beautifully."

Other gems...

The campaign for Pan Vilas (again by Ogilvy), was another that was appreciated for its script, execution and positioning effort. Paddy calls the two ads for Pan Vilas, 'Nawab' and 'Happy New Day', a breath of fresh air considering the size of the category and the aggressive way in which it has grown over the years, largely with clichéd work. "It's good to note that an investment has been made to give the brand a premium feel- and why not? At the end of the day it's the industrial honchos and CEOs who are the main patrons of pan masala," he elucidates. The other ads that struck a chord with Paddy include JWT's Deewana Bana De campaign for SET Max and Stark Communications' campaign for Kerala Tourism.

Regarding the film titled Sheesha for SET Max, he says it was a great instance of how the medium (TV) can be used optimally and appreciates the script, fast pace and the level of detailing of the film. He specifically loved the line 'Ghar aye ek biwi aur ek tv'. With respect to the film for Kerala Tourism, he feels the TVCs are a good break from the typical postcard location pictures seen in other ads in this category, and particularly loved the visual imagery and music used.

Vodafone's own ad, featuring two little school girls, didn't go unnoticed either. For Shastry, the uniquely female insight used is a sheer winner. "Doing something special for your best friend - such as saving a seat or giving her extra sweets - is something only girls do. A boy would probably get teased for the same!" he laughs. "The bit about the separate code of conduct for women towards their best friend has been uniquely done. I do not think I've written any ad using strictly female insight."

A winning 'Idea'

Moving on from the Ogilvy Fest, here's a look at the next campaign that drew admiration and applause from the experts. This one tumbled out of Lowe Lintas' cupboard and was created for Idea Cellular. This campaign carried the core thought "Bolne ke liye bhasha zaruri nahi hoti" and played on India's multi-lingual nature as well as its language sensitivity.

Flashback 2010: The Good, the Bad and the Noisy!
Flashback 2010: The Good, the Bad and the Noisy!
Flashback 2010: The Good, the Bad and the Noisy!
According to Pops, Idea's language commercial says a very simple thing - win someone over with one word in his or her mother tongue. Speaking of language, he continues with two personal anecdotes. When he was in JWT, Bengaluru, in 1988 he, Chax and Narayan Kumar had worked on a campaign for the brand Gripe Water by Woodward. When they broke the campaign the Tamil version was deliberately aired in Bengal and vice versa.

This was received very well by consumers who incidentally learnt the script of the ad in languages other than their own. The ad had only two to three sentences to the effect of 'What happened?', 'The baby was crying' and 'Give him some Gripe Water'. The second incident the Idea language ad reminds Pops of is his first trip to Japan, around eight years ago, when he was literally lost in translation.

Shastry points out that the film encourages consumers to use the phone liberally. "One will do this only if STD is cheap and this ad for sure makes it look that way. I feel like I can call Kerala to Delhi without batting an eyelid," he adds.

On his list, Shastry also finds Airtel's new campaign (by JWT) appealing, more for its execution than for the brand thought. "The metaphor of magically reuniting with your lover sans pangs of parting is sweet."

According to Chax, Idea had lost its plot somewhere along the line, but this campaign brought it back strongly.

He also liked the campaigns for Ceat Bike Tyres and Bajaj Pulsar (Fastest Indian) by Ogilvy; and Maruti Suzuki (Kitna Deti Hai) by Capital Advertising. The Idea advertisement figures in Joshi's list because he likes the brand's social take in ads, and for the fact that the ad is not about money-related issues such as talk time.

Pawar liked JWT's Kit Kat commercial with the two animated squirrels better. He, however, points out that the ad would have been even better had the squirrels been made to look more real. Joshi also likes this ad for its light-hearted feel. The other campaign that Joshi likes include Dentsu MediaTech's ad for Tata Power specifically for its 'non-addy' feel.

Another of Lowe's creations, the Tanishq ad (where a girl changes her decision to get married after seeing the wedding jewelry by the brand), was a hit with Pops and Mahabaleshwarkar. The former equates a woman's love for jewelry with a man's adoration for cars while the latter feels the execution would have been even better had the girl taken all the jewelry from her parents and then not gone through with the wedding eventually!

Honourable mentions

CreativeLand Asia's Frooti ad, Dentsu MediaTech's Tata Power ad, JWT's ads for SET Max (Deewana Bana De), Stark Communications' campaign (Your Moment is Waiting) for Kerala Tourism and Leo Burnett's Kaun Banega Crorepati series too found space in our experts' minds.

Have news to share? Write to us