Addendum is a fortnightly column that takes a sometimes hard, sometimes casual, sometimes irreverent, yet never malicious, look at some of the new or recent advertisements, and comments on them.

All or nothing

So there are a couple of TVCs for undergarments, which show neither cheesecake nor beefcake. Not even the undergarment. And they work like a charm. Contract has created two TVCs, and one has a young lady driving on a deserted road in a convertible tourer, a breezy song playing in the background, with nothing by her side except a golden retriever. They both seem to be enjoying the drive. And the super announces: “Unconditional love or no relationships”. Wow! Or should I say, Bow! If man's best friend becomes the woman's best friend, men had better look sharp. Hey, there's no way I could compete with an adorable dog for a woman's attention, and hope to win! The second TVC has two handsome footballers, one of whom appears to be obsessed with playing the game, while the other prefers to play the field. And when two lovely young ladies appear, you understand what they mean by the super, “Play to win, or don't play at all.” Nice! The different approach to undergarment advertising is refreshing. No wonder the French say, vive le difference!

All’s well that begins well

The saga of auspicious beginnings continues in style. The new one from the Cadbury's stable, created by Ogilvy, has a young boy and girl at a typical wedding scene. They compare notes about their relatives and each one's typical proclivities, and then the girl asks the boy if there was anyone on “his side” like her. The boy replies that it would be himself, and offers her a piece of Cadbury's chocolate. Yet another great beginning. Sometimes, when you have a great idea and stick to the concept, everything seems to fall into place. Just like good beginnings.

Connecting with the audience

Anushka Sharma and Rannvijay are having a blast in a series of films for Reliance Netconnect. The idea is to show how fast their dongle is, how many people are using it (everyone from Bunty and Babli to Amar, Akbar and Anthony) and where it is being used (every little town you have heard of, and some you haven't). And the latest is the one where Rannvijay eats peanuts on the bus tickets and throws the tickets away, and Anushka is connected from some Godforsaken place with her powerful Reliance 3G Tab on an Android platform. I must say, it is a very charming set of TVCs. One of those series of advertisements that is actually entertaining while doing its commercial job subtly yet effectively. While the script and direction is uniformly good (credit to Grey Worldwide), what really takes this series to a new height is Anushka. With her impish smile, impeccable dialogue delivery and great timing, she carries the series on her pretty shoulders. Sorry Rannvijay, but don't fret — any male actor would have suffered in comparison.

Shubh Arambh.

A bankable ad

HCL have created a wonderful property in the form of the HCL man and the banker. The series of TVCs have developed the character of these two, such that one associates the HCL man with all that is hi-tech, solution-oriented and innovative. The banker provides a great foil as a slightly bumbling but good-natured character. The latest TVCs show the duo on an exotic beach, heading to a bikini party on a speed boat, but getting marooned on an uninhabited island. While the banker bemoans the uselessness of technology on an island that doesn't even have cell-phone connectivity, the HCL man retains his sangfroid, uses a battery to get a smoke signal going, and manages to attract the attention of a helicopter. The TVC ends with the banker as usual getting us to smile as he gets his shirt on fire. Actually, these are two films, and even if you miss one, you really don't miss out on the essence of the plot. The HCL man does his job of positioning the company as one that can adapt to any environment and provide solutions, and the banker does his of keeping you entertained. It's difficult to build and maintain properties, and HCL has really shown the way

Say it with ... idlis!

You have to be a South Indian to know that the best idlis are described as those that have a “flower-like” softness. And that is the nuance that Lowe has used in the TVC for Havell's mixer grinder. In this gorgeously shot film, idlis are used to replace flowers in a marriage setting. The Carnatic music in the background with the nadaswaram and the slightly quicker beat in between make the film come alive. But then, you have to be a South Indian to love the adaptation of “Maha Ganapati” and one is perfectly happy as long as this film is only for South Indian audiences. Yet, one might then point to the fact that Punjabi music and words are liberally used in many songs and TVCs. I guess one would then have to admit it is time the Empire, or the Southern part of it at least, struck back.

And the award goes to…

Satyamev Jayate has ended what I might wishfully call its first season. We might endlessly debate the importance of celebrities in communication, and this would be one shining example of how celeb-power can be channelised to highlight important social issues. Take a bow, Amir Khan — and hurry back. There's more to be done.

Ramesh Narayan is a communications consultant.

(This article was published on August 9, 2012)
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