Aishwarya Ramesh

From Cadbury’s feminist take on a retro ad to Swiggy’s equality focussed cookbook - a round-up of the best of adland from 2021

Missed a good campaign this year? Don’t worry, the team at afaqs! has you covered…

2021 started out on a hopeful note. We felt like we had left the worst behind us in 2020, with the number of cases declining in January. Little did we know what lay in store for us.

Reopening of the economy meant people ventured outdoors to shoot too. This meant there were new ads, new campaigns and new marketing messages. During the second wave of COVID, many brands pitched in to try and help people access oxygen cylinders as well as food and other resources.

As the second wave relented, we saw a glimmer of normalcy returning to advertising too. Soon, ‘stay home stay safe’ messages were forgotten as theatres reopened, and establishments invited vaccinated customers back to their premises.

In a whirlwind year that’s been caught in the midst of so many ups and downs, team afaqs! chronicles the one campaign that they enjoyed the most. These ads struck a chord, making us remember why we write about the mad ad world in the first place. Read on…

Aakriti Kochhar, New Delhi, Delhi

Cadbury Dairy Milk – Kuch Khaas Hai (2021)

My favourite one from this year has to be the recreation of Cadbury Dairy Milk's 'Kuch Khaas Hai' ad with a woman cricketer. Cadbury beautifully recreated the 90's ad keeping the same concept, and same tune while inculcating a gender swap to convey the message.

I loved how the giant was able to shatter the stereotype image of girls and show how they are better off today and no less than anyone. It brought back a sense of nostalgia and struck the right chord with the viewers.

It ended with a powerful message - #GoodLuckGirls, with which this ad found a place in people's hearts for legit reasons. I was just one of the millions whose heart was mesmerized by this ad. And I am sure you too smiled ear to ear while watching Ogilvy's masterpiece. Didn't you?

<div class="paragraphs"><p>(Top L-R) Aishwarya Ramesh, Aakriti Kochhar, Benita Chacko</p><p>(Bottom L-R) Shreyas Kulkarni, Namah Chawla</p></div>

(Top L-R) Aishwarya Ramesh, Aakriti Kochhar, Benita Chacko

(Bottom L-R) Shreyas Kulkarni, Namah Chawla

Benita Chacko, Ahmedabad, Gujarat

Swiggy Instamart's The Better Half Cookbook

Though Swiggy Instamart doesn't deliver to my location, it is still the first brand that comes to my mind when I think of instant grocery delivery. And without a doubt it is due to their aggressive marketing efforts throughout the year.

Amongst its many campaigns, #TheBetterHalfCookbook is my most favourite as it reflects my personal beliefs. I deeply believe in the potential of cooking together and have strongly opposed age-old patriarchal notions of the kitchen.

While many brands, in the past, have spoken about doing household work together (eg. Ariel's #ShareTheLoad), Swiggy's this campaign translates its words into action. By designing a cookbook in such a way that both the partners can equally contribute to the meal preparation, the brand gives a strong call to action. The integration of the QR code to order the ingredients is definitely another attraction.

Bollywood films make cooking together look like the most romantic thing married couples can do. Well, it's none of that, but something more that these films do not say. It brings equality and respect in the home. Hope the men are listening.

Namah Chawla, Agra, Uttar Pradesh

The Man’s Company’s #GentlemanInYou ad campaign

While it seems obvious for a male grooming brand to release an ad on the occasion of International Men’s Day, what makes this one by The Man’s Company special is the effort they had put to localise it.

The beautiful verses with striking visuals in the ad film speak for themselves. The regional versions of the poem that were featured as print ads weren’t translated mechanically by language translators but by professionals who understood the particular Indian language.

What is even more special is that the brand thought about the audience that most brands don’t consider while creating their campaigns. The ones who don’t need a language to communicate. They can listen and speak with their hearts.

Shreyas Kulkarni, Mumbai, Maharashtra

Amazon India’s ‘Deliver The Love’

While government apathy bloomed in the first six months of the year, the feeling of helplessness festered without abandon in all of us. We all knew someone down with Coronavirus, we all tried to help someone of our own, our social media handles which became our window to the world since ‘20 turned into an unending ticker of SOS calls. Every night, in those few months, I’d wonder if something were to happen to my family or me, who’d come to our aid?

Amazon’s ad for Diwali answered this question and showed us how we lessened the potency of that utter helplessness in those months. It showed us divine intervention does not come from some being that arrives from the skies or a pompous leader who is all talk and gas, it comes from someone as unremarkable and ordinary as you and I.

Diwali has different meanings and relevance for different regions in India, the common thread is of good’s victory over evil. We haven’t defeated evil, but we’ve not bowed down either. I wonder how many of us will be able to watch Amazon’s Diwali ad next year.

Aishwarya Ramesh, Chennai, Tamil Nadu

Marriage conversations by Tanishq

If you’ve ever been a part of planning or pulling together an Indian wedding, you’ll know what a crazy process it is. This campaign from the house of Webchutney features conversations between couples that focus on their lives ahead, after they get married.

The idea that the team worked with was to focus on “the marriage and not the wedding”. True to the idea, the conversations discuss a variety of topics such as mental health, financial stability and adopting children. The visual treatment of the ad makes us feel like a fly on the wall listening to an intimate conversation and yet, it doesn’t feel intrusive at any point.

It was refreshing to see the brand make an ad like this after a similarly progressive ad was attacked last year for offending religious sentiments. The brand could have played it safe with an ambiguous message, but they went the extra mile to drive the point home and for that, they definitely deserve a ton of brownie points.

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