Catalyst

Changing the game, literally

Ramesh Narayan | Updated on March 21, 2012 Published on March 21, 2012

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Tata AIG

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.



If I wasn't aware what Pepsi meant by “change the game” I would have called it an opportunist with a delicate sense of timing. The Indian cricket team was returning from Down Under, licking its wounds after a hiding from Australia. The world had bitten its collective fingernails to the quick waiting for Sachin to score his hundredth hundred. Our cricketing pantheon of Gods were beginning to look like mere mortals. And then there was this TVC from JWT and Pepsi where a charmingly roguish Ranbir Kapoor is badgering this young footballer to think cricket. As they approach the Pepsi vending machine, Ranbir keeps the pro-cricket banter going and slips in the coin required for the Pepsi. The errant machine sullenly refuses to spit out the Pepsi can despite a couple of stout kicks from Ranbir. The young footballer then heads his football into the machine which promptly rolls out the can which he picks up, has a long and seemingly satisfying gulp and condescendingly tells Ranbir to consider football for a change. Ranbir decides to “change the game”.

I am sure the timing of this rather well-made film (Boot Polissh Films) was purely coincidental. This film is, of course, aimed at all the young Indians crazy about football, and I can vouch for the fact (as a father of one such fanatic) that their tribe is increasing. Yet remind me not to use a Pepsi vending machine next time. My head was made for more conventional uses. And while I am looking forward to some more football-oriented TVCs, Pepsi, would you please not completely forsake our cricket team?

As good as new

Let me say this. Every Indian who has checked in baggage on a flight will resonate with this TVC. How many times have you wistfully looked on as your new baggage was devoured by the cavernous depths of an airport? How many times have you winced when you have caught glimpses of loaders literally flinging bags onto a trolley from the hold of an aircraft? How many times have you cursed when you saw your bag emerge on a conveyor belt sans wheel or handle, or ripped down the centre? All those thoughts flashed through my mind as I saw the new TVC for Samsonite Cosmolite. Here they have a car with crash dummies hurtling down a test track and ramming into a piece of luggage. You watch in morbid fascination as the crumple zone of the car reaches the engine and smoke emanates from the crashed car, all in graphic slow motion. And then, voila! The little bag seems to get up, straighten itself and look as good as new. God, if only I could be sure this wasn't creative licence or a bit of hyperbole in order to make a point. If it is true, and I am hoping it is, it's what passengers the world over have been praying for to come true. The lightest and strongest suitcase made. And if the pricing is right, they have a sure-fire winner on their hands. Loader, do your worst! I'm still smiling!

Of success, history

We've all heard that life is a stage, and we are mere actors playing out our roles. Well, all things change so now, life is cinema and there's this TVC for Axis Bank made by Lowe Lintas where the life of a young man is seen as a series of scenes as visualised by a director. Changes and landmarks in life are indicated by directorial commands to “zoom in” or have a “trolley shot”, or “tilt up”, or “slow motion” and so on. Meanwhile the life of our young protagonist moves on, and oblivious to the script of the director and the tag line, it doesn't seem to have an interval. So the makers of the movie feel compelled to state the obvious at the end and add that Badthi ka naam zindagi. And that's what Axis Bank seems to be communicating. Life moves on without a pause. Rather well-made film, and one could really understand what the plot is all about, especially if you are in the business of making movies, and you could see life through the eyes of a director. If you aren't, well it's a nicely made film anyway. Oh, by the way, the brand philosophy of Axis Bank is “‘Success is never-ending and is never celebrated the day after; it is history as soon as it's achieved. Every success is momentary, just a milestone in the journey called life. Axis Bank celebrates your every success as a stepping stone for the next one.” Evidently Axis Bank zeroed on this philosophy after over six months of extensive consumer workshops and brand research. Keep it close to you and read it a couple of times while you see the TVC. Don't worry, you'll begin to understand what it's all about. Enjoy!

To good effect

I recall a survey done some time ago that profile the Indian youth as very “western” in the style statements they make but very “Indian” in their core value systems. Tata AIG and Bates seem to endorse this in their new TVC. The film shows an obstinate father flatly refusing even to meet the boy his daughter wants to go out with for a cup of coffee, dismissing him as part of the “new generation” that he obviously doesn't seem to think to highly of. The youngster enters, and goes directly to touch the father's feet proclaiming that he has imbibed these values as a child. Stooping to conquer never seemed more effective. The father is disarmed and a good beginning seems to have been made. A simple yet effective film that aptly and creatively explains the tag line “Good beginnings deliver good returns all your life”.

Not quite the same

Vodafone would rank amongst the most exciting advertisers in the country so its latest TVC was looked forward to with great anticipation. Cheeka the pug (Version 3 maybe) is back. So is the same approach. I like that. Consistency in communication works wonders. Yet, while I would award Cheeka the best actor award for TV performers any day, something in the film did not quite make the grade. I think it is the music. I still hum the “You and I in this beautiful world” tune with great pleasure. Somehow, the magic of music has not been captured as it was previously and that makes a world of a difference. Oh, by the way, do you notice the age of the two main stars keeps reducing? A sign of our times? The risk you run with such films is you end up selling more pugs than mobile connections.

(Ramesh Narayan is a communications consultant. [email protected])

Published on March 21, 2012
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