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.
The end of the winter in India is signalled by Mahashivratri, Holi and a fresh set of TVCs all aimed at relief from the great Indian summer. First off the block are the fizzies. I still remember the series of films on the theme “ Sprite bhujaye pyaas, baki sab bakwas ”. It was young, cocky and very entertaining. Building on the same theme and aiming at the same teen audience is the new theme ‘Sprite, Rasta Clear Hai'. The first TVC (I am guessing there will be a series) is entitled ‘Guitar'. It shows this hunk of beefcake on the beach hogging all the female attention with his guitar. Our young hero sees his girlfriend running to sit with the guitarist and decides that something out-of-the-box needs to be done. As the ice-cold effervescence of Sprite glides down his throat he is energised to find a creative way around the little hurdles that face all teens in their daily lives. He walks up to the hunk, compliments his playing and says such music deserves a dance. In a trice, he is grooving on the beach with his girlfriend, all the erstwhile admirers are rocking to the music and the poor guitarist is reduced to the human equivalent of a “minus one track”. As the poor sport walks away into the setting sun, the young teen, Sprite in hand, wins the day! O&M, and Prasoon Pandey can uncork the bubbly Sprite and raise a toast to teens and their victories.
Full of flavour
How do you make the common-place things seem very special? How do you make the most commonplace dishes taste extraordinary? For example, a cucumber salad is a cucumber salad, right? And a boiled egg is, well, a boiled egg. Not if you have Tata Flavoritz Salt (salt in four flavours) and two delightfully simple and effective TVCs from Leo Burnett. The setting for each film is carefully chosen. The art direction is spot on. The casting is great. Little touches like a little boy incredulously lisping “Boiled eggs?” when his friend is waxing eloquent about the boiled eggs his mother makes really set these films apart. And the action orientation that the line “ kha ke to dekh ” brings not just to the script but also to the audience is really spot on. Everything about the TVC's is simple and yet made in a manner that makes simple simply enjoyable. I intend trying out the black pepper and the red paprika flavors. Flavoured salt. What a cool idea!
Somehow when I think of Fevicol I always think of the Feviquik ad that swept the award shows in the dying days of the last century. The South Indian with the terrible Tamil accent as he counted the number of fish he had caught by applying Feviquik to his fishing rod imprinted itself on my memory cells. Many memorable films have come and gone from the Fevicol/O&M stable and the latest is the one made for Speedx, a new fast-setting adhesive with nano magnet technology that apparently bring molecules closer very fast resulting in a great bond. Shorn of the techno-babble, you have Speedx which would rate as the fast food of the adhesive industry, and the new TVC from O&M is set in the carpenter's equivalent of an Udipi restaurant. The customer telephones to give specifications for a cot he requires. The carpenter listens and keeps snapping out instructions at the other end of the telephone line. At the end of the call when the customer enquires how long it would take to construct and deliver the cot, the carpentry team arrive at his place, huffing and puffing but pleased as punch. A little exaggeration goes a long way in communicating a message effectively and that what the film does. It's nice, but give me that Madrasi with the terrible Tamil accent any time.
Simply not enough
Reliance ADAG's Big Flix+ introduces a premium movies-on-demand service with a rather simple film. I know I've said simplicity is great, but there's a simple idea and there's simple execution. And when things get too simple, they lose their zing. Anyway, the message is simple. For a subscription of Rs 249 you can just click, download and play movies from a menu of 500 blockbusters. What's more you can play these on your laptop, your tablet or even your mobile. And the TVC goes on to say you have total control. There are no ad breaks. No ad breaks? Here's a TVC promising you no other TVCs. What blasphemy! I'm stopping this review right here. I'm taking an ad break.
Wake up and smell …
I picked up my morning newspapers (I get quite a few) in Mumbai and kept wondering where the smell of coffee was coming from. Since I am a bad South Indian who doesn't drink coffee and the house was still asleep, the mystery deepened as the aroma increased when I sat down to read. Well, I realised that when Bharat Kapadia (who masterminded this media innovation) says wake up and smell the coffee he really means it. Hindustan Unilever had an advertisement for its Bru Gold in a local newspaper that exuded the aroma of fresh coffee. This new technology makes the “scratch and sniff” method look primitive. Evidently, this is sprayed on, and it doesn't stain the paper at all. Next time I walk in and smell something great, I better be careful before spraying my compliments around.
Vox pop: N. Mohanraj writes in and wonders why The Hindu ad sought to drag in a competitor's name surreptitiously. “If you are going for the jugular, do it openly,” he says. We are listening …
Ramesh Narayan is a communications consultant. Addendum.firstname.lastname@example.org