Confessions of a Failed Ad Man

So today is day 2 of the Project 1000. Yesterday I managed 1000 words. I think 500 odd here and the other 500 on the secret blog to sgMS. And I felt awesome about it. Of course it would have been perfect if I could manage some more words for Serai. Thats what I am calling the book, for the time being. 

So today's day 2. Let me today talk about something that is really close to my heart. And I have worked on it and failed. And failed how. I'd talk about advertising. Some other day, this post could have been called Confessions of a failed adman. Hang on. Why wait another day. Let me change the title right away. So people who read the blog often (all 3 of you) would know that I worked for an advertising agency at some point in time. I had joined that place hoping that I would churn out things like Jalebi and Cadburys. Only to realize that process is far more complex than merely coming up with scripts and shooting them.

Coming to the post, I shall talk about few recent ads that have caught my attention. And I would talk like a typical Indian customer, rather than an ex-planner.

So, the fabled summer season is on and that means that all the soft drink companies are going to bombard us with commercials celebrating their favorite time of the year. I would talk about Frooti, Appy Fizz (because I have worked on these brands), Coke (because I love the brand and wish to work on it some day) and some more. And I would talk about something that has nothing to do with India or with summers or with drinks. Its just an awesome piece of communication.

And again, these are unbiased perspectives of a common man rather than an ex-adman (or even an ex-planner on two of the above mentioned brands).

Frooti (and Slice)
Love the brand, love the positioning, love the legacy, love the drink. Frooti has everything going right for them. Except the competition. In the market, Frooti competes directly with Pepsi's Slice and Coke's Maaza. Slice has this really cool ad featuring Katrina Kaif. Apart from amazing production quality, great music and striking visuals, the ad is brilliant in the sense that at a subconscious level it places Katrina Kaif and Slice at the same place. So every time a guy desires for Katrina, something in him would crave for Slice as well. And once you have the share of mind, rest is easy.

Frooti on the other hand loses out. This season for some reason (which I havent been able to figure out), they are using Siddharth (who Siddharth? exactly my point!) in their ad. And mind it, in their entire 30 odd years history, they've never had a brand ambassador ever. So the ad is a story of a guy who cant gather enough balls to talk to her object of desire and everyone eggs him to try and talk to that girl. And finally he does speaks. And he does it be saying, "would you have a Frooti with me?". And this is where the entire disconnected is. Let me phrase them as questions. A. Is Siddharth being used as the actor Siddharth (doesnt look like) or as the boy next door? And it if he is the boy next door, why call him Sid? B. Is Frooti trying to make itself synonymous with love? Or with the feeling of togetherness? Or what? My peanut sized brain cant really comprehend. But then I am sure, brains better than I are on it and they have figured the puzzle out!

I dont even recall seeing Mazaa on tv yet. And if I have seen, if I cant recall the ad, it has to be really boring! So in the battle of mango drinks, for the time being, the winner, in my humble opinion is Slice.

Appy Fizz
Next up is Appy Fizz. I absolutely adore this guy. I sincerely wish I had the wit and presence of the mind that this dude has! Wait, hes not a dude, hes actually a drink. A drink with an attitude. And thats the best part. The latest line of commercials with Saif Ali Khan is actually far better than all the previous ones. The jokes are simple to understand (to someone like even I who is as desi as men in India get). Plus when they are using Saif Ali Khan, Saif is not being used as a model to peddle paint or dates or whatever. He is being used as himself. As a super hero. And he is in conversation with Appy Fizz. And Appy Fizz goes one up on him in all the commercials. Not like a battle battle but like in friendly banter than you may have with a friend. It does not pull down Saif's reputation and yet it definitely establishes Appy Fizz as a cool guy to hang out with. Or a cool drink to hang out with in this case. +1 on this one to the team. Here is the commercial. I am sure you can find more on youtube and all of them are as good (atleast the two that I have seen).

CocaCola Coke
Even before I start writing, I know that I would talk highly of coke. They cant seem to get anything wrong with their commercials. The latest ummedon wali ruh, sunshine wali aasha is super brilliant. Instead of using a celebrity to endorse the brand, they have simply used interesting and nice visuals to communicate different ways they open happiness. Open happiness is their global positioning that I think is slowly being brought to India. The latest ad, that they are playing with IPL, has just a couple of young kids, sipping coke out of the same coke bottle with the jingle playing in background. Too bad I cant find it online. I would have showcased it here. A very very simple idea, executed really well. A story that tells you everything and yet leaves so much room for imagination that makes you feel good about seeing a commercial. Coke wins it hands down.

Finally, I want to talk about Nike. A friend sent this to me. And I was literally blown away by it. Yet again, a simple idea, done very well and more importantly had all the peripheral things around it, to ensure that it does well. The story of a long distance couple, trying to cross the country and come together. Nike as a footwear company enables the two to meet. And to top it all, a catchy song/jingle to narrate the story. Finally, things like free download of the track, ability to share it with people easily, comment on a global website and stuff like that is the peripheral things that make is reach more and more people.

And I guess this is it for this edition of confessions of a failed ad man. The key takeaway for me has to be the realization that best ads are about telling simple stories well and the fact that the product being advertising has to stay in the background and be a mere enabler. (Nike as footwear enables a couple to run to each other, coke as a medium allows you to share happiness, Frooti allows you to say the most difficult words ever etc.) Will add this lesson to my repertoire of marketing and advertising lessons!

End note. So writing does not really take a lot of time. It just requires some patience and some peace of mind. Ofcourse advertising takes a lot more. No wonder :D

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The Nidhi Kapoor Story

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