Sunit Roy

A look at the most intense 'McDowell's No.1 Yaari' ad yet

Three friends, a five minute long film and a twist at the end - these are the active ingredients in the latest communication push by McDowell's No.1.

Mc Dowell's No.1 Soda, from the house of United Spirits Limited - a Diageo group company, recently launched the 'Yaaron Se Bane Hum' (We are made by our friends) campaign, which is an extension of its 'No.1 Yaari' platform. Conceptualised by DDB Mudra Group, the long-format campaign represents a new perspective on celebrating the bonds of friendship.

The over-five-minutes digital film, shows a group of three friends going for a trek. The film shows them running through a farm, and reaching a water body. When they try to cross a river, across which a tree bark serves as a bridge, one of the boys gets hesitant. The other two motivate him to take that one first step, and the boy heeds their advice and makes his way across.

A look at the most intense 'McDowell's No.1 Yaari' ad yet
Lying down in the forest, the young man who was hesitant to cross the river, says, "Everything has changed." His friends, however, disagree and say, "Nothing has changed, and nothing will ever change." They, then, reach a waterfall. While two of the boys get excited, the hesitant and introvert friend steps back. The two insist he take the plunge, but he refuses angrily and says, "I can't do it", and that he's fine sitting down. Then one of his friends tells him that everyone is fine in their place, but they are born to fly. The next moment it is revealed that the boy, who refused to join his friends at the waterfall, is physically-impaired. He removes his prosthetic leg, takes support of his friends, and jumps off the cliff. The film concludes showing him extremely delighted as he emerges from the water, and in the next shot the brand's message 'Yaaron Se Bane Hum' appears on the screen.

The film strikes an emotional chord with the audience as the essence behind 'Yaaron Se Bane Hum' gets amplified with the beautiful lines - 'Jeetun mein toh jashn manati, Haarun toh taaqat ban jaati' - that is part of the poetry written by Sonal Dabral, chairman and chief creative officer, DDB MUDRA Group, for this campaign, while Bollywood actor Ashish Vidyarthi has rendered his mellifluous voice in orating it.

The film was shot across three days at serene locations of Mauritius, used as the backdrop, and features Paresh, Imraan and Anuj - as the three actors. While the trek part was shot at the Black River Gorges National Park, the cliff jump was at Rochester Falls. It has been produced by Kailash Picture Company and Tapan Basu captured the emotions from behind the camera.

"This was a complicated script to pull off, as on one hand it needed to have the intimacy of deep friendship, and on the other it had to capture the daunting outdoors that the protagonist was up against. The weather became the biggest challenge; rains followed us everywhere. As a director, I had decided that this film will only work if moments we capture are 100 per cent authentic. You can't fake friendships, brotherhood and deep personal journeys. The search for these authentic moments between the three friends, and to do it when the weather was against us, was a huge task. So, there are moments in the film where we decided to shoot even when it was pouring. In hindsight, the overcast skies add to the slight melancholy mood of the film before the final act that I had in any case desired," reveals Dabral.

A look at the most intense 'McDowell's No.1 Yaari' ad yet
A look at the most intense 'McDowell's No.1 Yaari' ad yet
The brand has been celebrating the bonds of friendship for quite some time, and has released ad films centered upon the said theme. In 2014, McDowell's No. 1 Soda launched the
with an over 7-minute digital short film and a heart-warming song by Mohit Chauhan. This year, in the month of August, the brand launched
, a short film that gives a glimpse of MS Dhoni, the Indian cricketing legend and his 'asli yaari' as he goes back to meet his closest friends in his hometown, Ranchi. The new ad film 'Yaaron Se Bane Hum' has been launched on digital platforms, such as YouTube, in two-minute and over five-minute formats, and as a 30-second TVC. Soon, its two-minute version will hit cinema screens.

According to Subroto Geed, senior vice-president, marketing, United Spirits, this is our biggest campaign to date and has been crafted with media-first thinking. We are releasing it with an intelligent multimedia approach where the 30-second version will play across General Entertainment Channels (GECs) on TV, and on digital we have released the film in both long and short format.

"While the film itself will be reaching a wider audience on broadcast and digital media, we will be launching a very Gen-Y engagement journey on digital. The journey is inspired by the instinct that when something excites you, you reach out to a friend, and share all about it. Therefore, what better way to do so than our thematic sticker/emoji pack that will be deployed on Facebook, iTunes app store, and Nimbuzz through the Liveinstyle platform," says Geed.

A Recent Trend

If you are one of those who is quite active on social media, chances are that you must have come across some form of content where physical impairment has been exploited as a plot for the narrative. In fact, an increasing number of brands are opting to be more realistic in their representation of society through advertising.

A look at the most intense 'McDowell's No.1 Yaari' ad yet
Recently, Adidas started selling uneven pair of shoes - two lefts/two rights - and launched the ad campaign 'ODDS' that captures the journey of India's first blade-runner, Major D P Singh, a Kargil war veteran, and one of the first Indians to run a marathon with an artificial limb. The film was shot in Gurgaon, at real locations, whether it was Major Singh's home or the places he practices in.
A look at the most intense 'McDowell's No.1 Yaari' ad yet
HDFC Life also chose to go for the long format in its ad campaign '#MyFamilyMyPride', launched in May 2016. The three-minute film, features a heart-warming story of a father and his beloved daughter who dreams of being a dancer. Her prosthetic leg never comes in the way of her dream, as the encouraging father instills a habit of independence and self pride in her.
A look at the most intense 'McDowell's No.1 Yaari' ad yet
Following the trend was KFC India, which released an ad film for the launch of its 'Friendship Bucket' in July this year. The film, conceptualised by Ogilvy & Mather, brings to the fore, friends that are different, yet together. The film shows two friends communicating in sign language at a KFC outlet, and one of them being specially-abled. The specially-abled person questions his friend on why he hasn't gone out for a movie with his other friends, since he cannot speak. The latter responds by saying that while the specially-abled friend says that he can't talk, he has been prattling all this while. Thus, amplifying the thought that 'Dost jitney alag hote hain, Friendship utni kamal ki hoti hai!'
A look at the most intense 'McDowell's No.1 Yaari' ad yet
Reiterating a similar thought was Birla Sun Life Insurance's ad campaign titled 'Khud ko kar buland'. The three-and-a-half-minute-long film has fetched over four million views on YouTube, ever since it was launched. The film shows the story of the protagonist - a loving, tenacious, single father of an autistic boy - who decides to battle the odds and give his child a beautiful life. The voice-over says, "Honi ko aap rokh nahin sakte. Par honi bhi aap ko kahan rokh sakegi" (You can't dodge the inevitable. But fate can't really stop you from moving forward).
A look at the most intense 'McDowell's No.1 Yaari' ad yet
Following the trend was Sony Max 2, a Bollywood movie channel under Sony Pictures Networks India, which rolled out a film to celebrate its second anniversary in August this year. The film opens with a couple welcoming guests to their anniversary party. While the woman's younger sibling announces that her sister will sing a song on the occasion, for her brother-in-law, her husband stops, with a worried expression on his face. Her younger sister starts playing the popular Bollywood love song 'Pehla Nasha' on a piano, while the woman, celebrating her anniversary, uses sign language to express the lyrics of the song. Thus, revealing the reason for her silence until now. The lady continues teary eyed, and soon the man too joins in, also through sign language. The voice over says, 'Kuch filmon ka jaadu kabhi kam nahin hota. Max 2. Yaad rahega'

These are a few of the many such ad films that have been trending off late, as brands and online content creators seem to have found a new plot to convey the message.

So we asked, 'How different is the new campaign 'Yaaron Se Bane Hum'?' from the ongoing trend.

"Brotherhood is the most aspirational and emotionally connected form of friendship. The brand's narrative has seen great resonance especially among our youth audience, for whom friends are second family. The newest ode to the 'yaari' is our attempt to continue to connect and resonate with their view of friendship. And when a brand manages to reflect the consumer's personal value, it certainly sees the brand love translating into the product as well," says Geed.

"McDowell's No.1 is a brand that celebrates the deep bond of brotherhood. The way the brand defines this relationship is that these are ties akin to family and they're with you as you make the most difficult journeys and decisions in their lives. We are looking at a series of thoughts with provocative, engaging stories that establish the brand's thought," says Dabral.

Industry Speak

So, while we have noticed that 'physical impairment' is highlighted, rather celebrated, in various ad films, afaqs! asked the experts whether there is a chance of dilution because a lot of brands creating ad films on the same line of thought?

A look at the most intense 'McDowell's No.1 Yaari' ad yet
A look at the most intense 'McDowell's No.1 Yaari' ad yet
According to Carlton D'Silva, CEO, Hungama Digital Services, it started with the Paralympic team results for the Indian contingent and the emotions it evoked by the audiences that brought light to the subject. But I don't think that agencies necessarily look at the differently-abled and say let's make an ad with them in it. "I feel the story is first thought of and then if there is a good fit then the same will happen. If the idea is strong and the figment is not forced then I don't see brands needing to be afraid even though there are a fair bit of ads," says D'Silva.

So, 'will consumers be able to connect with the brand or the product?' "It's that basic formula: show happy people... twist with challenge... throw in emotion... hope that it works. Emotional stories garner greater views online, but although, the ad has been shot well, things are getting just too predictable when it comes to this brand," he explains.

Bikram Bindra, vice-president and strategic planning head - Delhi, Grey group, says, "Honestly, brands have just scratched the surface when it comes to representing the non-majority in their narratives. The worry should not be that of dilution, but of representation. Fortunately, the cause of the differently-abled is being championed by various brands, and I feel it is an encouraging move. For too long, we have been subjected, in popular media across channels, to a very specific demographic, not taking into account a larger diversity at play. This is part of a larger dialogue that brands are trying to have, where they are pushing their own boundaries and trying to show a more inclusive world."

Bindra adds, "We live in a very transient and transactional age, and somewhere the core audience for this brand will connect to a time which they felt was so much better than their current realities. Nostalgia as a theme has a deep richness to it, and connecting to it through the prism of old and lasting friendships works, irrespective of the brand. Yes, the product connect is tenuous, but the theme of bonding is a relevant one for the brand."