The new Dairy Milk ad is all everyone's been talking about since Friday. We spoke to the creative and production teams that created it.
A young boy blushing while hugging a girl, Shankar Mahadevan's voice echoing in the background across the stadium and heavy rains lashing out. These may sound like elements from a romantic Bollywood film, but these are just some of the things that Ogilvy's creative team and the production house Good Morning Films experienced while recreating the iconic Cadbury's ad.
In a conversation with afaqs!, the creative minds behind the new ad film-Sukesh Nayak, Harshad Rajadhyaksha and Kainaz Karmakar- and its director Shashanka Chaturvedi aka Bob shared what went into recreating the most loved and memorable Cadbury’s ad film three decades later.
Created for Mondelez India, they have reimagined one of India’s most loved ad films - Cadbury Cricket 1993, where a girl dances on a cricket pitch to celebrate her boyfriend’s century- as a sign of the times we live in and what our girls are achieving every day. The new version is a scene by scene recreation of the earlier ad but with a role reversal. It shows a young woman cricketer (played by Kavya Ramachandran) scoring a winning run and her boyfriend (Prabhneet Singh) running towards the field dancing with an unabashed glee, celebrating her smashing performance, as the crowd cheers on. The film ends with the powerful message of #GoodLuckGirls in recognition of today’s equal world where women are breaking barriers and pursuing all their dreams.
The ad was launched on Friday, first on digital platforms followed by a television debut during Sony Television’s Kaun Banega Crorepati on Friday night prime time. The ad immediately went viral post-release and was widely shared on social media. Over the weekend it has garnered over a crore views on YouTube.
And to think of it, all this frenzy began with a simple thought from two youngsters at Ogilvy- Samyu and Swagata. They suggested their idea to recreate the 90s ad with a woman cricketer to their boss Tanuja. The idea was then presented to the Chief Creative Officers- Nayak, Rajadhyaksha and Karmakar- on WhatsApp and they loved it. Since the original ad was created by Piyush Pandey, now the Chairman Global Creative & Executive Chairman India, Ogilvy, it was pitched to him and he also loved it.
“We pitched it to our client saying ‘Can you remember the most iconic ad of Cadbury? Now imagine it with a girl holding the bat and a guy dancing for joy. That's all we said and it was sold. We had the deck with us, but it was not required as he immediately warmed up to it and said, let's do it. It was not a long thought out process and was one of the quickest approvals in our careers,” said Karmakar.
The 1994 ‘Asli Swad Zindagi ka’ ad not only changed the perception of chocolates of India but it also broke away from the stereotypical image towards adulting. Recreating an ad as iconic as this comes with its pressures. They knew that they were setting themselves up for a million opinions. Yet they didn’t have the ‘pressure of outdoing anything’. What helped them in this journey was the fact that they had access to the original team who created this film almost three decades back.
“Piyush was constantly involved as a guide in all this. Bob reached out to the original director, Mahesh Mathai for inputs. So we had a lot of existing knowledge about how the original had happened and the things they had looked at during casting and performance. In many ways the entire earlier team lent their expertise to us and we built on that,” said Rajadhyaksha.
Realising the monumental task at hand, Pandey advised the team not to feel pressured to replicate everything and only take the spirit of it and go ahead fearlessly. He also suggested they keep the dance unrehearsed and spontaneous as the more the boy rehearses, the less spontaneous he will be. Even while shooting the original, their only brief to Shimona Rashi was to be exuberant on the screen. Though they did many takes of the dance, they took the first take because that was the most spontaneous. Even Prabhneet Singh landed it in one of the initial takes.
“Piyush’s advice was that the more the cast gets conscious, the more the moves will become measured and practiced, and you will lose the dance’s magic,” said Rajadhyaksha.
Though the original ad was a guide for them they also felt a responsibility to make it lively. “Unlike the first one, now the story is known. Yet as soon as the film starts playing it keeps the interest alive in each scene. Bob did that by bringing all his expertise of being a master filmmaker to the table,” said Nayak.
“The main challenge was to not try to make something new out of it and not add or subtract anything to the original. We had to try and capture the emotion and nostalgia in the same manner as the first one. It’s such a classic you don’t want to mess with it. The easier part was that we had a bible to follow,” added Chaturvedi.
The ad was shot over two days and in two different locations- first day at Brabourne stadium and the second day at Andheri Sports Complex. “We were shooting in the middle of heavy rain alerts. It rained on the first day. We also lost our location and then had to find another ground. Then we had to shoot the remaining parts in an absolutely new place. Maintaining continuity was a task,” said Chaturvedi.
While Karmakar could not be present for the shoot due to an elbow injury, Rajadhyaksha and Nayak took turns to be present on the shoot for a day each. What were their most memorable moments during the shoot?
For Nayak it was seeing Prabhneet Singh blush when he was asked to hug Kavya. “I love the way the boy blushed when he had to hug the girl. It was the cutest thing and made me feel like I was back at school again. It's the most innocent reaction I've seen for the longest time. Bob told me ‘Arrey, it's okay you can hug her. It's all right.’,” he said.
For Rajadhyaksha, the best moment was hearing Shankar Mahadevan’s voice echoing in the stadium. “We were playing the music on the speakers in the stadium for the actors’ cue. Having grown up watching this ad, that day when it was played in that stadium on massive loudspeakers, the feeling was so beautiful and surreal. With the whole stadium echoing with that beautiful track, you felt like you were yourself in the middle of the film. To me it was a really memorable feeling,” he said.
After the film was completed they showed it to the girls who had originally pitched the idea and asked them if it was what they had imagined. They responded that it was better than that. For Karmakar that remained a beautiful moment.
What other creative minds think of the ad film:
Swati Bhattacharya, CCO, India, FCB Ulka
When they create a version of an iconic ad, it's almost like we are sharing an inside joke with the brand. Intimacy is the algorithm of creativity. And this is intimacy twice over. The last time this ad came I was a young girl. Now this ad makes me feel young and old, and everything in between.
For me, even that ad was feminist where a woman’s joy could be so uninhibited. Because even though it was a boyfriends match, before that moment, we hadn't seen that kind of an ‘un-inhibition’. Her dance was not gendered. And when you see an unmasking of a human being, that too in a 30-second-ad, it is very inviting. I remember being so seduced by the girl that the next year, as part of JWT, I was launching Dabur cosmetics called Samara and I used the same girl.
Abhik Santara, Director and CEO, ^atom network
This one is an absolute gem. And it is so charming because the team didn't try to over-intellectualise on the so-called 'millennial insights' to tamper with the purity of this simple human emotion. Proving once again that no matter how much we keep debating about changing techniques of brand building, good storytelling is still the center of communication.
Recreation of a classic is not a new method, Lyril, Nirma, Bud, Pepsi, Orange and many other brands have tried doing it at some point. But most of us had picked a particular, and what we think is the most memorable asset of that communication - the music, the visual , the celeb or the expression - and tried to give it a new cover. The Dairy milk one retains everything intact and copied frame by frame. The bravery is in that and that's what makes it so simple and charming. Kudos to Harshad, Kainaz and Sukesh for coming up with this and delighting the audience and the fraternity. I just hope other brands don't follow and start rolling out briefs to recreate their own old assets - because not every ad has been as memorable as 'Shimona'.
Rahul Jauhari, Former Chief Creative Officer, Rediffusion
I think something like this was long overdue from a leading brand. The fact that Cadbury Dairy Milk did it - well, the choice of brand and the choice of ad, both are a perfect fit. You don’t always have to drive home a point with aggression. Sometimes a gentle, sweet statement can get the point across as well. The original ad was glossy and premium, everyone was well turned out and pretty. For me, the characters are more real, more in tune with today in the new one. And that works. Keeping the music, the steps, the moments and the actions close to the original one was charming as well. But these are ingredients - the very act of doing a flip on an iconic ad itself is the coup. My compliments to everyone who contributed to this effort.
However Vani Gupta Dandia, an Independent Business Consultant at CherryPeachPlum Growth Partners, in a LinkedIn post, said that the ad is a "forced attempt to tick off all the boxes - dark skinned girl playing cricket, supportive surdy hairy boyfriend."
(With additional inputs from Namah Chawla)