RAMESH NARAYAN | Updated on March 10, 2018 Published on December 31, 2015


Addendum is a weekly 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.

Faith and trust

Volkswagen has launched a charm offensive. The first print ad I saw in what will no doubt be a campaign had a testimonial of a customer saying he remembered how an accident in an earlier car left him grateful that the VW Vento had been engineered to protect his family. The customer was filled with gratitude and was almost seen to be thanking VW. For what? For making a safe car? Wow!

Anyway the larger picture is to understand why VW has launched this big image-building campaign. It is to beat the battering its image took in what is known in the US and UK as Diesel-gate. So some VW cars have not stood the test of emission control. More importantly, to me, some VW cars do not stand the test of trust. And what disappoints me is that there has been no clear statement that tried to explain what really happened. Maybe they have no defence. What about a public apology, then? Instead of all this, it first remains silent. Then it breaks a campaign that aims that to tell us what wonderful cars it makes. So why am I sounding a tad ticked off? For starters, I can tolerate quality problems like what Toyota had, but find it difficult to understand what could be dishonesty. Second, I was a great fan of VW cars, not just cars which wear the VW badge but other cars in their stable, such as Audi. I even bought and ride in one. So don’t blame me if I feel a little cheated. And forgive me if unlike the person in their advertisement I am not gushing that I ride in a finely engineered car. I expected just that and paid for it. So instead of image-building may we recommend some reputation management instead, starting with a simple word … sorry!

Fashion quotient

Dressing up is always on our minds. If it’s not the festive season, it’s the marriage season. Or maybe just an event or an occasion where you want to look your best. But what does one wear? What’s “in”? And what’s definitely not in? If you are one of those who want to look their best, the question “ Kya pehnu?” must be occupying a lot of mindspace. That’s exactly the insight Amazon Fashion takes up and converts into three snappy TVCs by O&M. They show different young people in different situations, different professions, wondering aloud what they should wear for their unique need. The dialogue is set to a tune, and the speed is just right where you get what they are saying and you don’t think it is just words that are being mouthed. An interesting way to work on a good insight! Well cast (Kubra Sait makes for a fetching chef, so modelling is a logical extension for this successful, bubbly young emcee) and well-directed, it’s something that has repeat value. And that’s saying a lot for an ad.

It’s all outdoors

Every medium feels the heat when a new medium begins to grow disproportionately. For years we read that print would die in the face of television. They have both grown. In fact, one of the major advertisers in the print media are the television channels. Now digital is the new robust kid on the block and it is natural for a medium like outdoor to feel it needs to highlight its strengths. And so the Indian Outdoor Advertising Association (IOAA) has released a campaign that “everything works better when it’s outdoors”. Taproot has created a campaign that shows every major existing medium such as print, television, digital and radio being experienced outdoors through simple photographs. Simple? Sorry, I should have used a different word. Because these photographs created by Prashant Godbole are pregnant with meaning. The bold use of black and white, the amazing art direction, the focus on detail, the wonderful composition and you realise that a good picture is truly worth a thousand words. Santosh Padhi and Prashant Godbole, take a bow! A memorable campaign that will not just win metals but also communicate effectively and do its job well.

And I wish all our readers a very meaningful new year. May all your wishes come true! Wish wisely, dear readers.

Ramesh Narayan is a communications consultant. Mail your comments to

Published on December 31, 2015
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