Monday, March 31, 2014

Rotary Polio Ad: Hits the right chords!

Reviewing this ad feels like a double whammy - a double reason to celebrate. A good cause, a great ad - could it get any better?

Rotary International used the medium of advertising spots to declare that India is now polio-free - and proudly so. A boy shackled with ropes against a background of fine lines, is struggling to break out of his tied feet; just when he spots a playful football nudging him. He decides to not give up, wrestles with the ropes, frees his feet, finally jumps on to the next set of fine lines, and kicks the football victoriously. Needless to say, the ropes here denoting polio, the fine lines are the 'fate lines' of human hands and the final kick is the victorious glee - a celebration of breaking free.

The 1:30 second Rotary Ad for Polio-free India

Why the hands? Because eradicating polio has proven that polio is no fate to be lived, Senthil Kumar, JWT's National Creative Director believes. "Logic says you can't change fate as it is sealed in the fate lines on your palm even before you are born. But the magic of two hands coming together can change fate and make miracles happen. This was how we came up with the idea of bringing these fate lines to life; just like the new lease of lifelines on a newborn."

While we normally don't yap about the client/brand of an ad, in this case we can't help but swell with pride. Polio is a huge handicap for any child in their most special and growing years and Rotary International has shown tremendous determination in making anti-polio drops a household vaccine that every mother knows of. Retrospectively, in January 2011, the last case of polio was discovered in West Bengal. Three years later, we haven't discovered a single case, which will now compel World Health Organisation (W.H.O.) to officially remove India from its list of polio-endemic countries (leaving just Afghanistan, Pakistan and Nigeria in that category).

JWT Kolkata does complete justice in transforming this deep sentiment onto screen in those 60 seconds. The use of animation (wonderfully put together by Team Eeksaurus) keeps the ad simple and lets the idea stand out - the hands signifying the mutual group effort that has led to this international success unitedly, and using simple elements to highlight the plight of the polio-struck kids help in instant connect without getting too layered, confusing or preachy.

The brilliance of this simplicity gets its soul from the background score that is the sail for any wordless advertisement. And that is somehow the most exciting part, when we got to know of HOW the music for this one came to birth. Senior Creative Director Arjun Mukherjee reminisces, "The idea for the music came after several rounds of brainstorming between Rajat Dholakia (National award winning Music director), Suresh Eriyat, Senthil and myself. As the metaphor for polio was demonstrated through the usage of creepers or vines, the idea was to use various single stringed instruments to bring alive the drama. So when Rajat played the Ektara / Gopichand, it was master percussionist Taufiq Qureshi who brought the ethos alive by playing the Berimbau - a single stringed, bow-shaped brazilian instrument that evolved several centuries ago. But it was an idea from Senthil, which really gave the film its lump-in-the-throat moment musically. Instead of using trained singers for the background vocals, the children of Pratham Music School were approached to lend their voices. These kids stay in the slum area of Mumbai's Govandi. Some of them were rescued from child labour while some work in the surrounding garbage dump. As they stepped inside a recording studio for the first time and sang their hearts out, the boy caught in the creepers suddenly found the strength to break out."


Arjun puts the story of this music piece so beautifully that we refrain from editing it one bit. Hence, we quote. Cherry on the cake here? Rotary's brand ambassador's Amitabh Bachchan's rich baritone concluding the victory at the end, "When we join hands, miracle happen."

Well sometimes, there are brilliant ideas and some times, those ideas manage to wonderfully translate on screen and retain their paper-perfection even after execution. This ad is one of them.

Additional Credits :
Raji Ramaswamy - Senior Vice President, JWT Kolkata
Deepa Sridhar - Director, Corporate Communications - JWT South Asia

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Thursday, March 27, 2014

Blue Star: The dancing boss is far from blue!

The ads amplifying the cooling AC's of Blue Star have most times managed to attract attention. This time it goes a whackier step further, with a dancing boss jiving ludicrously to Daddy Cool.

Blue Star's latest ad, Daddy Cool

You know it is a striking ad when you un-mute in between programs only to watch an ad that you get intrigued by. So while by habit I hit mute when the news program goes on a break, I am instantly caught up by this extremely grim looking man, in suit and tie, acting absolutely unlike a man in suit and tie! He dances weirdly with a straight face, jives, shimmies in his office (don't miss the funny step with the xerox machine), all to the beats of Boney M's famous number Daddy Cool. The interesting part is when abruptly stops dancing on exiting the office and regains his crazy dance when he reaches home. What is the message here? Get office like cooling at home. Bang on.

The dancing boss of Blue Star and Christopher Walken for Fatboy Slim video have stark similarities.

This ad very strongly reminds me of Christopher Walken's bizarre dance in Fatboy Slim's music video  Weapon Of Choice (directed by the unconventional Michael Gondry) which is quite a rage online. Executed by Interface Communications, Blue Star's ads have always been quirky and National Creative Director For Interface asserts that this one is going to be on the same track.

Fatboy Slim - Weapon Of Choice music video

What's heartening is that carving a niche for Blue Star's unique quirkiness in the advertising world may have taken its own sweet time, but they haven't given in to the over-information loaded, fast-editing format of most attention-seeking ads. It stays true to its genre and in the process, delivers content that makes it stand out from the rest. Haven't tried the AC yet but the ad cooled me instantly.

A previous ad from the same team for this product that tickled me was the one were the 'boss at office' and the 'boss at home' are instantly cooled amidst their arguments. Witty, besides being an ad with perfect music sense.

Update: The 'dancing boss' is played by actor Denzil Smith.

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Tuesday, March 25, 2014

'Goodness' personified : Nestle's new campaign

It is not uncommon that food and drinks' ad campaign encourage sharing as a way of caring (Remember Coca-cola?). The latest campaign by Nestle banks on this initiative, terming it - 'Share Your Goodness'.

The  extended version ( Source: YouTube)

So while Nestle has taken the liberty of making two version of the films (the longer one - 3 min and the shorter on 1.30 min), each of it pretty much summarises how food can truly be a common point of contact and concern that humans share. A touching take on a family that newly adopts a daughter, it gives us a sensitive insight into the little initial hiccups that their son has to come to terms with - sharing his space, sharing his parents' love, sharing his books and so on. However it all falls into place when she sneaks into the kitchen and shares a cookie with her sibling with absolute innocence and purity - that is all that takes to bind them together.

With the advent of high-end editing softwares and camera technology,what still seems to have the maximum effect is a strong script and a simple, no-frills execution. Conceptualised by McCann Erickson and produced by Nirvana films, what sets the mood is the linear, non-dialogical story telling with an apt music score - nothing fancy, right to basics of human emotions. This will help the campaign not only cross language and cultural differences, but also gains widespread acclaim on the universal, ideological and relatable issue of adoption and sharing.

This ad serves an umbrella covering all the products by Nestle in India under the 'goodness' category.

The campaign originates from Nestle's belief that 'each of us has an element of goodness and it comes from the values, beliefs, strengths, ideas and understanding that we have learnt through others. I absolute agree with their observation that 'in our culture in India, consuming food goes beyond the pleasure of consumption and nutrition and is a natural opportunity to share our lives and build healthy relationships with our family and community.' Their research seems right on target and the ad wonderfully addresses and supports this observation.

This one is definitely one of the more deserving ads that stands by its tagline #ShareYourGoodness which it slowly wishes to sustain with the help of more campaigns that will follow on the same lines (the dabbawala ad, coming soon).

The Coca-Cola campaign that was on very similar ideology of 'sharing is caring' was their 2013 campaign with newbies Aalia Bhatt, Varun Dhawan and Siddharth Malhotra. This campaign was carried worldwide with different regional stars and commoners with lot of success.

Other Credits for Nestle:

Chief Creative Officer: Prasoon Joshi
Creative Team: Prasoon Joshi, Pradyuman Chauhan, Rohit Devgun
Media Agency: ZenithOptimedia India

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Saturday, October 26, 2013

Paint Wars : Asian Paints' Army Man or Nerolac Excel's Umbrella?

India is a nation run by emotions. And the most evident proof of that spills in our Indian advertisements. One look at our TVC's reveal that majority of the ads talk about how you would feel after buying their products or your social stand with it, while the rest focus on the actual utility of the same.

With Diwali around the corner, it is not surprising that the paint companies have started wooing the audience with their latest ads. Two distinct ones that caught my attention are Nerolac Excel and Asian Paints.

Nerolac Excel has the face that is difficult to forget and probably the face that has been explored by brands a bit too much. Shahrukh Khan, in this rather amusing ad, emphasises how others will have to opt for an umbrella if they do not go the Nerolac way. What really stands out for me is that desi voice going 'ambarellaaa' in a rather jolly voice, right off a raw rural track. Completely fits the plot and makes it so so relatable to the actions of the people struggling to offer that humungous protection to their houses. The slow built up of of that umbrella travelling with that utmost care does make you sit up and take notice, wondering where it all leads.

The Nerolac Excel Umbrella ad with Shahrukh Khan
Directed by - Eric Morales
Produced by - Earlyman Films

Executed by Publicis Ambience, the ad hits the selling point of the product, being protection from harsh weather. No doubt, we find the location changing from the rustic sunny streets of Jodhpur to the wet rainy lanes of Kerala. This one very much, drives the point home.

On the other hand is an army man, a dignified firm army man taking his newly married wife to see his new house, their new house. One really wants to see what unfolds when this pretty looking mushy heart enters an almost clinical house like that; the last thing you expect is that stern face to be the mushy heart in this little story. How the ad beautifully unfolds and flips its emotion in a matter of 30 seconds is commendable. And of course, it clearly uses the emotions we attach to our homes and our rooms to drive its product.

The Asian Paints Army Ad 2013
Conceptualised by Ogilvy & Mather

This Asian Paints ad does manage to gush your heart with warmth and will leave a lasting impression on most minds, women mostly. And if it is females shopping for house products or taking the last call, its easy to guess which one will win their loyalty. 'Kitne pyaar se koi apna ghar sajata hai, Harr ghar such kehta hai,' says the ad in the end. Pretty much summarises the love and care associated with homes, not houses in this brief period. Equal credit to the actors for underplaying it - expressing sparingly and thus keeping the flow of emotions tight.

So logic or love? The battle continues. Each would have its own takers we guess! The execution of Nerolac and the emotion of Asian, win it for us.

P.S: The desi background song has been penned by Ashish Khazanchi (National Creative Director, Publicis Ambience), composed and sung by Bollywood Composer Pankaj Awasthi.
The dusky actress in the Asian Paints ad is Radhika Apte, better known for her role in 'Shor in The City.'

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Wednesday, October 16, 2013

American Tourister: The dancing bags.

How often do you spot an ad with tamil lyrics and a young bunch of enthused models having fun on the exotic sunny streets of Paris, all together? Well, the latest TVC for American Tourister is just that. And they did get it, spot on.

Created by JWT Hongkong, what really attracts me is its vibrant youthful energy that the ad radiates, obviously impersonating the young range of Vivolite. I mean, wouldn't we love lighter luggage in fresh cool colours like these? Honestly, I am done with black. High time we add colours to travelling. And to those conveyer belts.

The sunshine look of the ad has been executed with some brilliant camerawork and of course the pacy editing that packs a lot in those 30 seconds.  The soundtrack, put together by Mortan Wilson of Schtung Music reminds me of the Nike cricket ad with those Goan lyrics (incidentally made by JWT India) that instantly makes you want to get up and add some sizzle to your life. While Mr. EPS Menon, CEO Samsonite South Asia believes that their brand reaches out to the growing Indian segment of youths world over, it is not surprising that the campaign goes out of its way to justify that with an indianised soundtrack, customised especially for the Indian market. The rest of Asia has the ad backed up with an english soundtrack.

Though I don't know what those lyrics mean (and most of us may not), I am sure it would stir up the travellers to have some fun.  Seems like it IS going to take on the world.

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Saturday, October 12, 2013

Old Spice: Mantastic or Tacktastic?

Milind Soman for Old Spice's latest ad for the Mantastic campaign - Product: Deodorant 

At first look, I am surprised as to why the supermodel Milind Soman would do an ad like that.

Then I realise, on paper, this concept must have really looked great. The masculine charm of the two, that voice and the class you associate the two with - makes complete sense. What suffers, is the execution.

This concept of the Old Spice commercial has already been tried in the international markets and a success to the effect, that the ad became viral online within a few days of its release. While the agency Wieden & Kennedy bagged two honourable Cannes for it, actor Isaiah Mustafa shot to instant fame posing as that 'guy from the Old Spice TVC'. And honestly, that's so much more believable. And of course, deserving.

Old Spice: The Man your man could smell like - International campaign (2010) - Product: Bodywash

The association of Milind Soman's testosterone-pumped image is fully justified with a brand like Old Spice, specially when they are trying to talk about what really makes a man, a man. Sadly, the execution of it, in the hindi version, is hilarious in parts, stunning for some few seconds, and tacky for most part. The only part through his speech that I genuinely find funny is when the camera loses focus while he speaks and Milind calmly commands, "Focus guys, focus."

While it is very refreshing to see Milind Soman back on the small screen after long, despite the grey hair, the smile is still as disarming and that baritone, so soothing. But the words, the creatives and the execution is truly disappointing and a waste of his manliness to say the least. That script - honestly it is a little embarrassing to watch an intelligent man like him mouth such sleazy lines. I cringed almost every time I saw it.

The 'Mantastic' concept works with the international ad, purely because of the changing frames that keeps your attention (don't miss the special effects that aid smooth transition of one scene to another), and the actor's poker face that makes you wonder what is going to pop up on the screen next. The indian version stays simplistic, but sadly lacks the punch. Of course, it is one of those ads which will get noticed by one and all; because its one of those ads that you can either love or hate, but you just CAN'T, ignore. May work for some. For us, the balloon just burst.

P.S. The resemblance between Milind Soman's smile and Pierce Brosnan is uncanny. Dishy, these two. Why isn't he in a sensible bollywood movie? Oh wait, my bad. That, does not exist.

Uncanny!: The resemblance between Milind Soman & Pierce Brosnan is striking.

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Tuesday, October 8, 2013

The Mystery of the Pout.

So I am at a camera service centre, and while I patiently wait to be called, right opposite my sofa, is Anushka. No, not in person, but on a poster, pouting down at me, apparently trying to tell me that this camera noted at the bottom of the poster is worthy. Of course, I'd believe her. I am using the exact same brand. But wait, did her pout tell me that?

Anushka Sharma in a print ad for Canon.

And then I walk out, get into my car, and I am very shabbily overtaken by an overworked driver in an under-serviced mini-truck, the truck carrying some aerated drinks, profusely jingling as he drives on. The back of this truck has our very own Priyanka Chopra, holding the aerated drink, and doing what? Yes, you guessed it, pouting!

Priyanka Chopra in a print ad for Pepsi.

Now may be the pout in her case is different, it's wide-eyed and has more of a look of surprise, probably trying to tell us that well, its an offer to steal! Do buy! and stuff like that. But hey, she is still pouting.

Which brings me to this echoing question in my head. Why do women pout? I see a lot of that on social profiles too, mostly selfies, gracing a lot of display pictures. Of what I see, girls really enjoy it. I for one, can't stand it. But why do our kinds pout anyways?

Researchers say that the shape of the lips symbolically represents a woman's vagina. So by their surveys, red lips have the maximum potential to attract men, because apparently they represent a swollen , aroused pair of vaginal lips. How much sense does that make? Or is it reading between the lines (or lips in this case) too much? 

They also say that lips represent one of the most sensual aspects of a woman's body and play a critical role in human sexual attraction. That, I'd believe. A women with a bright lip shade on her definitely attracts more attention to the face than someone who puts on a plain lip balm. And that could be one of the reasons why it even matters to us that these women in the posters are pouting and not smiling. The point is, it got them noticed. Works for them, right?

A pout most naturally is seen on a baby. Mostly when they cry, or when they are trying to communicate displeasure. Somehow, it looks really cute on them. It makes you want to give them anything and everything that they desire, for a baby looks vulnerable, helpless and requires one's validation to deal with their needs. There thus is ingrained some human playful behaviour when a person pouts. Someone who wants you to notice, permit and validate what they are trying to communicate. It calls for our attention in a dainty, innocent way. What better way to have pretty women do it then, where it does not look like a marketing pitch, but just a pretty dainty little girl having fun?

A baby pouting is a very common sight.

Does it really work? Of what I see, a smile or a look can be used only so much to sell a product, mostly only if it is a beauty product. A laughter or a pout for that matter probably shows one is pepped up and having some fun. So for all we know, this probably works at some unsuspecting level. Will I be caught in a picture with laughter? May be. With a pout? NEVER. 

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