Asian Paints: dada-dadi

I have been seeing this advert on television for some days recently, and think it’s effective.

Now why do I think it’s effective? In line with the previous posts on advertising (which include quite a few reviews and dissections of ads, now that I look back at it all), let me write about this ad right here right now. Okay? So here goes.

What works:

  1. Humour. Whichever ad has humour as a strong point, it’s always the first point for me. It grabs attention, entertains and makes the ad memorable. One person’s misery is another person’s humour. And in this case, the dadaji’s misery emanating from his weak memory provides moments of pride for dadiji and amusement for the rest of us.
  2. It’s a story! Stories engage us. We love hearing and telling stories. Once upon a time we painted the house… nice! And the characters from the story tell the story in autobiographical mode… nicer!!
  3. Lather, rinse, repeat. The story is in loops. We get to understand it after two of the loops – dadaji is reminiscing about an incident from old times and remembers one artifact of the story, while dadiji knows that he has made a mistake, and corrects him. By the third time, the audience is onto the game. We already know dadaji would again be making a mistake, and dadiji would correct him.
  4. The product. The yellow bungalow is prominent in the frames throughout the ad. I think the way Asian Paints present a house in their ad is well-defined in their minds, and they do it exceptionally well. Right from the first frame I could tell it is an ad for an exterior paint, most probably from Asian Paints.
  5. The story communicates the benefit very well. Memories may fade with time, but the paint would not.

Spread the cheer

Long time Flickr users, especially the “Explore” enthusiasts obviously know BigHugeLabs and their Scout service, which lists out any user’s “Explore” pictures, either those currently in the charts or those which have ever been in the charts, depending on the settings.

Those photographers who get a kick out of seeing their photographs on Flickr’s Explore frontpage keep visiting Scout to see how many of their snaps have been touched by the Magic Donkey, and whether the number has gone up since the last time they checked. It’s an addiction for some.

So I was sort of taken aback, pleasantly, when Scout tells me today that 405 of my 407 Flickr photographs are “totally awesome”. Turns out this is part of their Christmas cheer programme. A cute red Santa cap accompanies the message which tells me that. You can go back to your routine “normal” Scout. But there’s no way to get this back as far as I can see.

They brought a smile to my face no doubt, albeit with a cute li’l lie.

How are you spreading the joy in the holidays?

Merry Christmas!

Special treatments

Last Friday I was flying from Delhi to Bombay on an IndiGo flight. Knowing that it is a low-cost carrier, I was not expecting anything apart from getting me from point A to B.

So it did come across as a surprise when one of the stewardesses selling the eatables addressed me by name (though I was not sitting on the seat my boarding pass mentioned), and offered me one food and one drink item free of cost, because I was a corporate customer. At a maximum cost of one fifty rupees they left a good impression on me.

But then I flew IndiGo again twice earlier this week. Again for official reasons. But this time I did not get such a ‘surprise’ (which it would hardly have been, come to think of it).

Later I find out from a colleague that there is a line mentioning this perk on these low cost airline tickets for corporate customers. And that you can ask the stewardesses for your free items.

The pleasant experience lost its pleasantness during the later journeys.

Sure I could ask them for it. But I don’t see how corporate fliers would say “I should get a freebie” when stewardesses are asking them if they would like to buy something, especially when the value of the freebie is not more than two hundred rupees.

It’s not the money I save in not having to buy something to eat. It’s nothing compared to the money we spend on the travel. It’s the gesture that says that the airline cares for me and remembers me.

Does not take too much effort, is not too costly. The keyword here is, consistency. If they cared enough to check their roster of passengers in every flight and make sure they did such things every time they flew, the experience will be pleasurable every time.

Choices

Which do you think makes a better connect with you, or whom would you buy from?

We are your only choice
The only company selling blah-blah with blah-blah technology.
We are the only option if you want blah-blah on your blah-blah.
(In other words, if you want blah-blah and not choose us, you’re doomed. Where will you go, eh?)

or

We appreciate your choice
We are equipped with blah-blah on our blah-blah, but we appreciate that you have a choice of going to other people but have chosen us.
We appreciate that you have chosen us amongst many others who are giving similar (not the same) offerings.
(In other words, we are better, because you chose us; The blah-blah on the offering might be just one of the reasons you did.)

The Good, The Bad and The Excellent: Recent Telecom Ads

Here I pick three new advertisements from the stables of three Indian telecom houses — Idea, Reliance and Vodafone.

The Good: Let’s start with Reliance, which I’ll call the good. It’s not actually an ad I’m talking about, it’s a campaign — to advertise Reliance’s new caller tune copy service. The advertisements show one person swinging to some popular song that is playing with colourful musical notes surrounding their head. Then the person tells you that this is their caller tune, and you can press * on your Reliance mobile phone to copy it to your number. Then some other person who is in the frame, but not facing the first one hears this, presses * on a virtual keyboard that pops up in front of them and gets the same colourful notes around their head, to denote that the caller tune has been copied. The service has been around for quite some time on some other operators, and if I’m not mistaken, Idea Cellular was the first one to come up with this service and an advertisement (probably made in a south Indian language and dubbed in Hindi/English later on?) to promote it.

The execution is well-done. The camerawork and the graphics etc. along with the choice of songs is good, and the ad grabs attention. The “Hi this is my caller tune…” approach has been consistent in Reliance’s communication regarding caller tunes now, with the first campaign with lots of spots featuring different celebrities.

Interestingly the spots also have a karaoke-style line on the screen while the character is speaking, with the familiar ball-bouncing to denote the word being spoken. This is quite an unnecessary frill in the overall well-done ad, and ironically, this is the one thing where they’ve goofed up. If you look carefully, the words appearing on screen are not the ones being spoken. Why would you have it then? Especially in karaoke-style?

The Bad: Then you have our new Vodafone “musical greeting” promotion. O&M has done some really good spots in the Vodafone VAS campaign, with the man waiting in the lift for his soulmate, the man stocking up on onions in a supermarket, and the cutest one so far – the girl chasing a goat for its milk. But I think they have gone a little too far with the “down to earth, real, slice of life” approach. Three girls, holding a guitar and some other instruments standing beneath a man’s window, singing “pehla nasha”, all out of tune, rhythm and in my opinion, the guitar is being insulted in being handled that way. The idea could have run if the execution was any good. But the execution has left the idea, which is a decent one by the way, struggling. Are the greetings that Vodafone is offering us as “musical” as these girls are? If they are, then thank you very much. I’ll prefer silence.

The Excellent: My favourite commercial from the recent days is the new Idea commercial. Abhishek Bachchan is playing a tourist guide in Agra, who tries to talk to a foreigner lady for selling his services, but she seems not to understand. He assumes there is a language problem so he hands her his card, and turns around. He turns around to see her friend come to her and talk to her in sign language — they were both deaf-mute. Just then he receives a text message from her that they need a guide. We then see Bachchan tell a group of tourists about the Taj Mahal, and along with that he texts the woman whatever he is telling the others. She replies with a text – ‘what an idea’.

Truly, what an idea! To position text-messaging as a communication tool for deaf-mute people and thus increase the user base of mobile phones is truly a marvellous idea. This one is a fitting sequel to the earlier Idea spot, with Abhishek Bachchan playing a village head who replaces the usage of names for people with their mobile numbers, thus solving the caste problem plaguing his village. The spot is executed well, and the actors have played their part well. Hats off to Lowe people for an excellent campaign and another excellent advertisement in that series.

Classics Revisited: Tata Safari DiCOR

After reading the content of the last ad-dissection post someone on the same Orkut forum recounted a favourite ad of his – the Tata Safari DiCOR ad, the one we are familiar with as the “Reclaim your life” ad, and requested a writeup on that. Guess what? I also love that ad, and loved writing the following.

Company: Tata Motors
Brand/Product: Tata Safari DiCOR
Tagline: Reclaim your life
Storyboard link: courtesy agencyfaqs!

What is this advertisement selling, if it does not talk about the mileage, the grip on the road, the boot space, the leg room, the head room, the interiors, the paint, the look? It does not talk of the car at all. What is it trying to get at?

Maslow’s hierarchy of needs places esteem (not the car from the Maruti stable) at the fourth level, above physiological needs, safety and love/belonging and lower only to self-actualization. What needs does a car satisfy? There is a basic (call it physiological if you will) need, which Kotler calls “core benefit”, of transportation, and there is safety – you would prefer a car to a motorcycle to a bicycle because it is safer to the latter options. Lastly, there is one need that a car satisfies, more in the younger crowd, and that is esteem. A 14-year old is thrilled about getting to drive a car, and a 24-year old is thrilled about owning one. The world over, a car is one of the most treasured possessions of a man. Your car in a way defines you. Why else would wannabe playboys drive around in big shiny sportscars hoping to impress the women?

With the economy moving the way it is and with the average age of the first car buyer coming down (with the result that people are buying their first cars at 25 rather than 35, which was the norm 15 years ago), along with the fact that more and more younger professionals are getting their dream jobs with dream salaries, dream locations etc. (with the result that even the first car can be a B+ or C segment instead of the earlier 800/Alto/Santro class), it is a good idea for a SUV to focus on the young professionals as their consumer segment.

So what this ad does, is that it takes the aspirations of young and otherwise successful people, people whose parents would no doubt be proud of them, and shows that the ‘normal’ life is keeping them from pursuing what their heart desires. They would rather be doing something else.

Now what works here:

  1. The positioning – bang on. The car for the young successful professional who wants to be a maverick. With the new-style Safari, the designers at Tata successfully moved away from the boxy Bihar/Jharkhand-road chhaap Sumo image and delivered a sleek, sophisticated looking SUV.
  2. The immediate connect – if you are a young successful professional, you definitely have a wish to do something extraordinary with your life which you are unable to do right now because of the rat race you are stuck in. You have to identify with the faces in the ad.
  3. The tagline – reclaim your life. This urban life with the 9 to 5 job and pressures of the family etc. have taken away your life from you — the life that actually belongs to you, which you should be able to live your way. You should now get up and reclaim it for your sake. Notice the direct call to action – it’s not a ‘buy now’ or ‘hurry till stocks last’. It is so much of a non-hardsell line that it appeals to you much less like an ad but more like a caring friend or a movement that you’re part of (why am I reminded of Woodstock?).
  4. The production – there are two parts to the film: the first where the people talk about their unfulfilled dreams, and the second where the car is shown. First you feel connected to the people and as soon as you feel comfortable, a high-speed unstable film appears with a powerful SUV negotiating tough roads like you would like yourself to be doing right here right now. The director of the spot has done his job brilliantly in getting both parts of the film to talk properly to the target audience.

Classics Revisited: Asian Paints

A few days back while I was asking the people on a community on Orkut related to advertising to get out of the “list any ads that come to your mind” mode and instead give some thought on analyzing and trying to find what made those advertisements click with the audience, one of the people there asked me to start. Someone had written about the “Waah Sunil babu…” commercial on that thread, so I picked it up for analysis and posted the analysis there.

Now for the benefit of readers of this blog, here’s what I had written:

Brand: Asian Paints
Product: External emulsion
Storyboard link: courtesy agencyfaqs!

The things in the advert that work in its favour are:

  1. Demonstration – the ad demonstrates the USP of the product being offered – longevity. The paint lasts longer than your car, your wife’s figure, even you!
  2. Dramatization – the demonstrations were dramatized, exaggerated to grab attention. Who would believe that a house once painted around the time of a young man’s wedding would still look the same when he is dead and his wife has found a new lover?
  3. Taboo – The wife’s new lover. People love taboo topics, especially when handled with humour, because then the social stigma of the taboo topic is masked by the “we’re just sharing a joke”. Had the ad stopped at just the car being bad and the wife being fat, the impact would not have been that much – the ad simply dragged it too far — it lasts longer than you — so much that your wife and her new lover would enjoy it after you’re gone!
  4. Simplicity – the events are pretty simple. The man gets married, gets a new car and gets his house painted at the same time. The name – Sunil – is a very common name, much less than a Rahul or Rohan, for the middle-aged family people it targets. We haven’t seen many lead characters in Hindi movies named Sunil (only KHKN – and none other than SRK at that! – comes to mind at this time). The punchline can be delivered to anyone named Sunil (or not) in jest… people started speaking in the same tone to their friends and acquaintances wherever they met them. It is simple, it is believable as something a regular neighbour says to another neighbour in the morning on whatever things he sees at the moment – the new house, car and wife (incidentally the three essentials for middle-class people in India).
  5. Humour – don’t need to explain that do I?
  6. Execution – the art, the music, the acting of the cast – especially the person delivering the lines, the props – the motorbike, car, the clothes etc. have been taken care of well enough.

What do you think?