Hero archetypes in Indian advertising change with the mood of the nation and the consumer. Now, it is the season of the protector.
If you are active on social media, chances are that you must have come across some form of content designed as a tribute to India's soldiers. Following the surgical strikes that India carried out across the LoC in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir, in response to the Uri attack, brands and online content creators seem to have found a new currency in patriotism. Or was the phenomenon triggered earlier?
For Bajaj Auto it was an opportune moment to revive its campaign for Bajaj V- the bike that contains the metal of the legendary warship INS Vikrant, with a fresh ad that calls on Indians to celebrate national pride every day.
Also leveraging the sentiment is Bollywood music channel 9XM with a new Hindi song 'Salaam Haq Se' (a play on the brand's tagline 9XM Haq Se). "Khadi Sarhad Pe Fauj Hai, Tabhi Teri Meri Mauj Hai', go the lyrics. Featuring rapper Fazilpuria, the video that is a tribute to the soldiers guarding our borders was released on October 11. It too crossed the one-million-view mark.
Heroes in making
While the men in uniform are undoubtedly the current prototype of the ad world's heroes, brands exploiting prevailing consumer sentiment is no novel phenomenon. And, hence, the audience have - time and again - got new role models to look up to.
Examples range from children who became major influencers following Lifebuoy's 'Help a child reach five - Gondappa' ad to cool and spunky grandmothers like Kamlesh Gill of Vicky Donor fame who featured in some of the most memorable ads such as the one for Tanishq and Abbott.
Interestingly, the distinction of being the archetypal hero does not belong to people alone. In a recent wave of advertising it was the unconventional professions that enjoyed the privilege. Top-of-mind ads in this category are, undoubtedly, Nescafé's stammering comedian, the cartoonist and, more recently, the radio jockey.
Varma believes that brands have a responsibility of furthering the hero's archetype rather than reducing it to a cheap, transactional opportunity. He cites the example of the Bajaj V to make his point. "Bajaj V is an example of unleashing pride into popular culture. 'Sons of Vikrant' is a classic example of how you can take everyday heroes and become a part of popular culture," he states.