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Some things in life are inevitable. Death tops that list. Some of the worst advertisements aired on television in recent times will be slaughtered in this blog without a morsel of kindness. But even the bloodiest criminal is asked his last wish before he faces the noose. So I guess it’s only proper that the ads that are gonna face death penalty here in the coming days & the near ‘n distant future are given a li’l reason to celebrate before bowing down to their inevitable fate. One last dance of glory –a dance that’ll take them nowhere but straight to their grave.
Good news is that 2010 was not all that bad for the agencies & production houses that jointly make the advertising industry. Can the same be said about the majority of ads that were churned out of these pompous self-absorbed establishments??? I doubt that. Although a good portion of them showed that there’s still hope for us to be frontrunners in the international advertising arena, some of the ads made by the so-called top-notch agencies & production houses bared the fact that they are after all a sad copy of its mushy, melodramatic, over-the-top cousin Bollywood. These ads were clearly driven by the clichéd formulae of B-Town featuring some of the worst actors in even worse concepts you could possibly imagine. Sadly enough, what you got in the bargain was pure Bollywoodish material –glitter on the outside, bullshit inside.
To leave some amount of hope for the ad industry & possibly a final chance at redemption, here’s the video of the winners of NDTV PROFIT -Best ads and advertiser of 2010. The video shows an episode of NDTV Profit’s show ‘All About Ads’ [AAA]. What you see in this video is a bunch of ‘lucky’ ones who made it to the top ten. By no means are they to be mistaken to be the best of the lot that came around in 2010. ‘Why so?’ You may ask. Well… who and what decides that these 10 ads get to represent the best among thousands of advertisements that fought for precious screen time on our television channels throughout the year? The advertising fraternity, of course. Knowing very well that eye brows are gonna be raised, the anchor of the show quickly mentions that even ‘You & I’ have liked these ads too. You, I assume must be pretty sure that ‘you’ didn’t vote for these ads & I am pretty confident about the fact that ‘I’ haven’t voted on any myself. So there! We have NO say in the final list whatsoever. The ‘You and I’ are probably all the family members of these ad film makers or at the most 300 odd people selected from Mumbai, Delhi, Pune, Kolkatta and Chennai for a survey they have absolutely no clue about. So let’s assume that these 300 people made a random selection which was lapped up wholeheartedly by the advertising fraternity. What’s wrong with that, you might think. How do we know that the sensible & creative ones have been included & it’s not a bunch of lousy ones that made it to the list? Are we to believe that these people or the fraternity represent the choice of an entire nation or maybe even those outside the nation? I don’t think so. Now… Does my thought matter? Of course it does, it’s MY blog, remember?
So, let’s get back to the video of the NDTV show. With tinselled charm and unabashed mawkishness the anchor then proclaims that these are ads that are culturally relevant & those that have definitely broken the clutter. For one sorry moment I believed her. But that was until I saw the list that finally made it to the show. I would be called a demented fool for speaking my heart out if I said that the whole list was rigged. No, it isn’t rigged. But I would be fooling myself if I believed that this list has been prepared without a deliberate decision among the fraternity to include the biggies, lest you earn their dissatisfaction and face the severe consequences. As a result some of the most uninspiring ads have crept into the list that’s otherwise populated by ads that show an intelligent flair for creativity. How on earth would you explain IDEA Cellular’s ads being part of the top 10 well made ads of 2010…? It comes as a shocker considering the fact that the series of ads by IDEA Cellular in 2010 are absolute no-brainers disguised as ‘ideas’ that would change our environment, country & our mobile experiences respectively. I may have at least felt a bit better if it featured somewhere down the countdown. But number three????? WTF!
I don’t want to waste my time dissecting IDEA ads in this post simply because every single ad made by them this yr was pure nonsense and each of those pukeworthy pseudo intellectual ads will be reviewed separately in future posts. Let’s take a look at the ads featured in this countdown & try to fathom if they deserve to be in the list or not and for what reasons.
Tempting Jewellery: Starting from the bottom at no: 10 is Tanishq Wedding Jewellery. Some women may have rightfully felt that this ad portrays them as a species of gold-jewellery fanatics, but since the motive was to promote Tanishq as ‘jewellery that makes you wanna marry’, the ad’s concept seems appropriate. Also it’s a woman [the girl’s mother] who convinces the girl by luring her with wedding jewellery when her father’s attempts at getting her to agree to a proposal from a groom in San Jose fails to arouse any interest in her. The ad plays well in establishing the relationship between the old & anxious parents and the independent daughter as well as between the parents themselves. Having got the girl to come around and agree to the proposal put forth by the father, the mother sends a sarcastic sms to the father of the ‘bride-to-be’ telling him that it’s been 25yrs and yet he has not learnt a thing about women. This reinstates the fact that only a woman can read a woman’s mind. Not much room for complaint & Tanishq deserves a place in the top 10.
On time is a wonderful thing: Indigo airlines with a well crafted ad at no: 9 tells us about the importance of being ‘On time’ and thereby stressing the fact that they are the most punctual airline in the business. Excluding the fact that the ad came out at an awkward time when Indian media was crying loud about the ‘worst air crash in a decade’, an unfortunate plane crash near Mangalore that killed 159 people in May 2010; this ad had everything going its way. It was catchy and attractive & the makers made sure it flashed across all the important TV channels numerous times making a mark in the audience minds thus deserving to be in the top 10.
Bold & the Beautiful: At no: 8 is Coke with a simple but interesting concept told in the typical new generation ‘bindaas’ fashion with terrific support from an absolutely fresh & bold cast –Imran Khan & Kalki Koechlin. A strange pair on paper but an absolute relief on screen because of their unconventional yet ‘International’ appeal. It stays faithful to the coke caption of ‘open happiness’ and makes everyone who watches it happy enough to gain entry into the top 10.
India’s Favourite Car: Here’s Maruti with an ad that you can call ‘Made In India’ and truly ‘Made for India’. For a country that’s obsessed with mileage you cannot make an ad better than this. The only flaw in this entry at no: 7 would be that there was a similar ad [Juno: The spacecraft to Jupiter] among the three ads made by the same director for the same product with the same theme that deserved to be in the competition for being slightly more funny & interesting.
Painting Lessons: I have no idea how an ad like this that’s awfully unimaginative and uninspiring made its way into this list at no: 6. Asian paints has somehow managed to get into the competition by painting a good picture of itself. It’s surprising that such a silly ad with a premise as old as Methuselah found its place at no: 6 above better and deserving ads. Disappointing entry at 6!
A Touch of Humour: At no: 5 is a rib tickling innovative ad for Havells Geyser. It is simple and relies solely on the creative talent of the actor playing the part of a miserable man who has to resort to mimicking sounds from various regional channels on television to save electricity. This ad deserves to be on this countdown for its sheer simplicity in conveying the message that it’s much easier to save electricity by getting a Havells Geyser than resorting to silly tricks.
The Latest Fad: At no: 4 is Blackberry clearly giving out the message that it is no longer a business man’s phone. People from all walks of life have now embraced the Blackberry, so much so that India now runs on a Blackberry. The ‘Blackberry Boys’ theme succeeds in delivering the message but falls flat on its face in creativity. Having a hummable song for your ad & making it available for download as a ringtone doesn’t account to having made a successful ad. The song in itself shows the lack of creativity on the maker’s side because it’s a bad rip off from the popular title track of Rajkumar Hirani’s blockbuster ‘Lage Raho Munnabhai’. Doesn’t deserve to be in this list and definitely not at no: 4.
Ideas That Never Take Off: IDEA cellular at no: 3 is the most undeserving candidate for its sheer stupidity & dissembling campaign to make the entire country believe that an atrociously impossible idea can change your life. It may not have changed the audience’s lives but definitely changed the life of the makers. First by making them richer & then by getting them on the top 10 list of this year’s ads and that too so high up at no: 3 when there were several other deserving candidates inside as well as outside the list. Shame on those who made it no: 3.
On The Right Track: The Indian Railways ad comfortably manages to make it to the no: 2 position. But the only reason I think it made it to the list and that too as high as no: 2 is because it brought something as neglected as the Indian Railways back into the spotlight. It also makes use of a catchy old Bollywood hit song “Rail Gaadi” sung by Ashok Kumar from Hrishikesh Mukherjee’s 1968 hit Aashirwaad instead of getting a new jingle composed like most ads do. Using an old song that’s close to every Indian music lover’s heart and getting the audience in a nostalgic mood is a wonderful thing to do but the inspiration should have ended right there. Instead the main theme or concept too borrows shamelessly from an old railway advertisement from Hong Kong. The 1993 Hong Kong ad had children in it playing ‘train’ in a park and had kids of both sexes. However the unofficial Indian remake of the ad decided to keep women away from it & faced a lot of flak for that matter. Women or no women, this advertisement managed to capture the attention & appreciation of at least half of the 1.18 billion people annoyed at the 2010 Common Wealth Games, Delhi that was tainted by scams & bad organization. This ad premiered on Doordarshan during the Commonwealth Games and instantly became the talk of the town. For winning people’s hearts during such a tough time & also managing to associate the Indian Railways as a common man’s transport, this ad deserves a place on this list. Maybe not no: 2 but nevertheless a place in this countdown.
A Shadow of Creativity: Just when I was beginning to think that this list was not to be taken too seriously I get an assurance that creativity & hard work always gets its due. I’m gladly surprised by the winning entry at no: 1 and I must say it’s a well deserving one. A state as beautiful as Madhya Pradesh, the huge heart of India, deserves a fabulous ad like this one that is so full of life & brimming with incessant energy. The rustic voice of Raghuvir Yadav along with the innovative traditional shadowgraphy by Amar Sen, Sabyasachi & Team does wonders to the video. Kudos to the team for making such a refreshingly wonderful ad.
The Advertiser of the Year is someone who has the ability to move millions with an idea. It looks like the judges took their job way too seriously when they decided to give the prestigious award for the ‘Advertiser of the Year’ to a company that goes by the name IDEA Cellular. The anchor shamelessly announces that IDEA Cellular has been awarded for its consistent & creative communication and also for its excellent strategy. The strategy I must say has been excellent, no doubt. To make a lousy ad with a huge budget with a star son & shove it down the throats of millions of people who have no ‘idea’ what they are seeing. It is indeed the simplest of ideas, like the anchor of the show tells us but I must disagree with her that it has been executed fabulously by chrome pictures. They have made a mess with an already messed up concept. The only smart thing they did was to play out the ad enough times on enough channels to create an impression that they are trying to break through the ad clutter, when in fact they were the ones causing the maximum clutter. I was even more surprised & rather shocked to know that the Creative head of Lowe Lintas, R. Balakrishnan a.k.a ‘Balki’ has directed this horrible chain of ads. It’s especially shocking when this comes from a filmmaker who has done films like ‘Cheeni Kum’ and ‘Paa’. I could go on & on about this but I’d rather discuss this like I mentioned earlier in a separate review of IDEA ads.
The ‘Integrated Campaign Of The Year’ winning initiative ‘Aman Ki Aasha’-An Indo-Pak Peace Project, a joint venture of the Times of India & The Jung group fills us with diverse emotions and makes each one of us feel pleasantly warm inside just by the mere thought of the possibility of peace across the border. And what better way to show it than this wonderful piece of creative advertising along with other sections of the media like print, radio and internet chipping in along with the organization of mass events to create awareness. The promotional video shows us that hatred & rivalry are washed away with music & unconditional love and brotherhood triumphs over 60 years of hostility between the two nations that were once a part of a single nation. Finally a major movement from both parties to establish peace over irrational hatred.
For having made some pretty decent ads that do not test your patience, Footcandles Production deserves the award for the ‘Best Production House’ of the year. But on second thoughts, if we are to judge a production house only based on the good ads that come out of its stable and not on the bad ones and also the people who made it, we would be doing injustice. Footcandles Production can of course be proud of the fact that a majority of ads in this list were from their production house. Vinil Mathew may have made for them this year’s winning entry but he has also made for them some of the lamest ads in advertising history. Those will be reviewed later in this blog. Most of Vinil’s ads are absurd and outright silly & takes the audience to be fools while Ayyappa always hits the bull’s eye with his humorous & creative ads. Unlike Vinil, Ayyappa is a director with an edge for his intelligent creativity & use of just the right amount of humour. If Footcandles Production intends to be a worthy winner next year I’d suggest more of Ayyappa and as less of Vinil as possible and if possible show the idiot the door. Would work wonders!
The Creative of the year has gone to India’s Ad Guru Piyush Pandey, Executive Chairman and Creative Director, Ogilvy & Mather South Asia. This comes shortly after the Advertising Agencies Association of India (AAAI) honouring him with the AAAI Lifetime Achievement Award in August, 2010. Piyush Pandey needs no introduction. He has single-handedly put India on the advertising world map even before he became the national creative director of Ogilvy & Mather India in 1994 and being inducted to Ogilvy’s worldwide board later in 2006. Who can forget ‘Mile Sur Mera Tumhara’ in 1988 that was written by him. The ‘Chal Meri Luna’ ads created by him ran for 7-8 years winning all kinds of awards and shortly after that, in 1988, he made the ‘Haisha, dum laga ke haisha’ ad campaign for Fevicol. The completely different ad which talked about three generations of carpenters who use Fevicol ran for over a decade. Piyush Pandey has been associated with some renowned ad ideas like Kuch Khaas Hain Zindagi Mein for Cadbury’s Dairy Milk, Vodafone Zoo Zoos etc. It may come as a surprise to many that this former Ranji Trophy cricketer tried out a lot of different jobs from tea testing to construction before he finally found his calling in advertising. The year was 1982 and Piyush Pandey was 27 and since then he has been doing what comes naturally to him -Connecting with the regular Indian viewer. He has picked up over 500 Indian advertising awards and has also been named the most influential man in Indian advertising for four years consecutively by The Economic Times. In 2004, he became the first Asian to be the president of the Cannes jury. Apart from that he has also won two Cannes Gold for The Anti-Smoking campaign for the Cancer Patients Association. He was also the judge at the Asia Pacific Advertising Festival Awards, 2007. The list of achievements and accolades is endless. Truly an icon and all I can say is that the award is blessed to be in his hands & other winners in this list must feel privileged to share space with some like Piyush Pandey.
Finally the Agency of the year -Ogilvy & Mather. No prizes for guessing why this one deserves the award. Even a self doubting Arjun fought a war against thousands of men with the lord driving the chariot and leading the way. The case isn’t any different here.
That is all for now. I’ll be back soon to butcher some crappy ads quite mercilessly. Have a nice time watching TV and stay away from those lousy ads that make you mind-sick. Enjoy the good ones that bring a smile on your face and be happy. If there is an ad you want me to tear apart here, send it to firstname.lastname@example.org
Until next time, take care. Cheers!