Ashee Sharma and Shweta Mulki

Netflix India and Anurag Kashyap mock the 'Great Indian Diwali Spot'

The streaming service's latest digital film targets cookie-cutter ads to promote the cause of 'entertainment'.

It's that of time of the year when everything you see on television seems to be festooned with lights, and everyone seems a tad too cheerful. The festival of Diwali makes most brands go all out to tug at their consumers' heartstrings - and purse strings, resulting in an assembly line of seemingly prototype ads.

In its latest digital film, Netflix, which is currently ad-free, targets those very ads with a spoofy film replete with the same formula -- sentimental families, perky children, 'diyas' and sweets, and the unravelling of gifts. And the fun bit here is that it has roped in film director Anurag Kashyap to play the stereotypical man of the house.

Netflix India and Anurag Kashyap mock the 'Great Indian Diwali Spot'
The film, made by the digital agency Glitch, has a satire-laden voiceover take us through various Diwali ad clichés including the 'man gifting jewellery to wife' shot, the 'children playing with sparklers' moment and even a 'grandfather playing the piano' visual. Somewhere in the middle, the 'grandfather' mentions that he's appeared in 137 ads. Towards the end, when the family nestles together for a selfie, the slow motion stops, and Kashyap, finally turning to the camera, asks viewers why they are still watching the ad.

The film, then shows quick flickers of three of its original shows, The Crown, Narcos, and Luke Cage, and ends with the message: Ads may never change, but your entertainment certainly can.

This film follows Netflix's recent promo with Tanmay Bhatt, stand-up artist and member of the popular comedy group All India Bakchod (AIB), promoting the show Narcos.

Incidentally, Netflix's first announced original series in India 'Sacred Games' is produced in partnership with the Kashyap co-founded Phantom Films.

So, does the film succeed in its 'entertainment trumps ads' mantra?

Anshul Sushil, co-founder and CEO, BoringBrands, says, "When it comes to ideation and execution, I think a little more is expected from Netflix, especially when you have an iconoclast like Anurag Kashyap. Netflix, in India, is still at a very nascent stage, and the audience is very niche, hence, I don't think it is meant to be mass content, but rather, comes across as an interesting content-driven campaign for its selective target audience."

Netflix India and Anurag Kashyap mock the 'Great Indian Diwali Spot'
Netflix India and Anurag Kashyap mock the 'Great Indian Diwali Spot'
Netflix India and Anurag Kashyap mock the 'Great Indian Diwali Spot'
He adds that Netflix's target audience in India is evolved and understands offbeat celebs, but the day it decides to go mainstream it will have to look beyond that. "Globally, Netflix produces content that caters to a very mainstream sort of audience. Hence, it has a mass appeal. However, in my opinion, in a country like India where it is still at a nascent stage, Netflix is trying to cater to a very evolved and niche audience in Tier 1 cities. Therefore, the approach to advertising is different," says Sushil.

Ankita Pande, AVP - operations, iProspect, says, "The ad has a rather quirky and satirical approach, and humour is always a strong peg. While it highlights the USP of content consumption without any disruptions, I think it also highlights the need for relevant messaging and accurate targetting, an area where digital irrefutably wins, but marketers still have a long way to go in ensuring the same."

Commenting on Kashyap's casting, she adds, "The choice of these celebs is indicative of the brand's preference to connect with a more evolved, urbane, digital-first audience. They have a large and almost cult-like fan following. Mainstream celebs would just lead to a lot of spillage, largely outside Netflix's primary audience segment."

Priya Jayaraman, co-founder and business director, Propaganda India, says, "I'd like to believe that people are on Netflix for the content it provides, and not because you can watch it uninterrupted, Diwali or otherwise. I am surprised that a brand like Netflix is not playing up its content repertoire. It is an elaborate production that makes a mockery of a festival which the entire country looks forward to, however cliched it may be. And, a complete underleveraged use of someone like Kashyap."

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