Irony? Hypocrisy? Need a job?

Do the top Indian placement websites have a pact among themselves to not air their commercials when the other parties’ are on? For quite some time now was advertising like crazy with its “caught in the wrong job” spot while was off-air. Now that Monster is not that visible on air, Naukri seems to have woken up.

Let’s keep the market dynamics aside for a moment to discuss another issue, shall we?

The spots, the most famous of which has been the ‘Hari Sadu’ one, where an employee spells out the name of his bad-tempered and abusive boss as “Hitler Arrogant Rascal Idiot”, all have one idea – that if you have lost your job, the place to go to is Pretty strong idea I must say. Everyone who is working in a job either empathises or sympathises with the protagonist. The ad simply rocks, because it demonstrates a problem most of its target segment is troubled with – that of a bad boss. The commercial is indeed one of the most famous ones of these times, especially among office-goers. We have all played the ‘game’ of expanding the names of our respective bosses at some time or the other after this commercial started airing.

Now one of the reasons for changing or quitting every placement consultant out there will ask you to avoid mentioning is that you and your boss could not get along. It is a taboo to mention in an interview that you had a ‘bad boss’. Isn’t it ironic then that the most famous and talked about placement agency advertisement is centred around exactly this one issue? The sticky-ness of this ad bears testimony to the fact that this remains the leading reason for people to look for change from their current jobs, so why are we so wary to own up to it and say clearly to a prospective employer that “yes I quit because my previous immediate superior and I could not get along, and I hope that you and I will not go down that path”?

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?