Once upon a time...

Ramesh Narayan | Updated on November 27, 2014 Published on November 27, 2014


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.

Who doesn’t like a good story? There’s something about the art of story- telling that is as old as humanity and as fresh as the last lovely story you just heard or read. And combining these, you have an advertisement for Amazon Kindle Paperwhite. Made by Orchard and Ram Madhwani this is a celebration of not just reading but the art of telling a story. How can I forget curling up with a book on a rainy day? Diving into the storyline, living the roles the characters play, obstinately refusing to come for dinner, finishing the book late in the night, bleary-eyed but thoroughly satisfied….until the next book came along. So what I thought was a dying habit comes alive in the compact Amazon Kindle Paperwhite. The medium of today. The wonderful gadget that brings thousands of stories into the palms of your hands. The only accessory my wife never forgets to take along on a trip. And this TVC not just brings alive the well-known draw of reading but has a very evocative young actor who effectively brings out the ageless art of story-telling. The locales, the great shots of the skies and the sea, the direction, the young man’s acting, the script all effortlessly merge to tell a compelling story. One you want to hear over and over again. And as if you needed anything more, there is this haunting music overlay with the wonderful voice that brings the magic of music to enhance what is already brilliant. I love the song. It could be a hit single, if it had another verse. Think about this Ram.

Jiyo Parsi.

The Parsis are a unique community. Everyone knows how they reached the shores of Gujarat fleeing religious persecution, charmed the Jadhav Rana by promising to be like sugar that completely dissolves in milk, not altering its color, or consistency in any way, just blending in and sweetening it forever. Much has been written about their immense contribution to the economic status of India, the social fabric of Mumbai, their charming little eccentricities, their orientation towards philantrophy and their general goodness. I have personally witnessed many of the attributes of Parsis in the shape of a very dear friend whom I have known closely for over four decades. And yet, as a community, their numbers have been dwindling alarmingly. This is obviously because of an amalgam of many reasons but the thought that this community is hurtling toward possible extinction in the pure form we know, is alarming. And any effort to improve their numbers is very welcome. One such effort is by the Ministry of Minority Affairs and Parzon (UNESCO) in the shape of a print advertising campaign aimed at this little community that is scattered across the country, with a concentration in Mumbai. Created by Madison BNB the campaign uses a combination of the self-deprecatory humor that Parsis are so sportingly known for to urge them to get married and have more children. In fact the ad mentions that if a married Parsi couple is childless they could be entitled to financial assistance to explore the possibility of an IVF procedure. The headline of one of the ads reads “Panni ja isn’t a spell from Harry Potter. It means get married”. The tone of the advertising is casual and to-the-point. Apart from the advertising being something that could be effective we are pleasantly surprised to see this noteworthy effort from the Ministry of Minority Affairs. And happily though the creatives are the work of Raj Nair, the owner of Madison BNB is a good Parsi, Sam Balsara. May their tribe grow. I hope Parsis all over the world read this interesting advertising, or are told of it by their friends. And I hope they are inspired to act upon it. As for me, I am happy to report that my own dear Parsi friend has done his bit for the community as evidenced by his two lovely daughters.

Diamonds are forever.

Ian Fleming probably did the diamond industry the biggest service when he penned Diamonds are Forever. Not only was it made into a memorable film but the line was etched into the narrative whenever diamonds were spoken of or written about. And now De Beers, the international mega diamond company about whom even books have been written has launched yet another advertising campaign, this time for its Forever brand of diamonds. The lovingly made film has a warm and old-world look-and-feel about it. Shot in black and white, it shows a young couple meeting, getting close and then committing to one another in an extremely well- choreographed way. The entire film looks like a dance through different phases in the life of the couple woven effortlessly together without a single word being said. Great locales, very good music and the unique direction that makes the whole film look like a single dance sequence makes for a nicely understated film.

The new idea.

Remember the last corporate campaign from Godrej? Frankly I wondered why Godrej needed Aamir Khan to endorse their brand, but I guess you can’t go wrong with him. This year the new products (relatively new, I guess, considering I am in the age group that had a Godrej refrigerator for 16 years, and dumped it only when we got bored of it. And of course related the name to sturdy locks) get a brand new campaign and I think the brand managers at Godrej have grown more confident of themselves, and the creative capability of JWT, their Agency. So the first thing you notice is, “goodbye Aamir Khan, hello fresh creativity”. And that in itself positions the campaign in a very positive light to me. So much better that a lazy campaign that hides behind a top celebrity. So you have these little films with a young couple who want a house, some furniture, a security system, protection from mosquitoes and so on. Casual episodes tell the story of each product. Light banter and some humor make for great ease of viewing and repeat value. Tista Sen and her team have done a good job of focusing on the products while using the couple as a great device to tell a story.

Let’s unfake it.

As you are aware everyone is trying to use bad English to create “cool” words. So now you have Diageo telling you to “unfake” it. The TVC is made by McCann Ericson and begins with two girls taking a selfie and saying something about being ready to rock the party in a completely fake accent. Then let’s skip to the part where a Smirnoff logo catches your eye on a record the DJ is spinning and you wonder what the current definition of surrogate advertising is all about. So cocktail stirrers are out and party experiences are in. Doesn’t really make a difference. Someone is still making a mockery of the law of the land giving their own spin to the ostensible reason for the advertising. My take; let’s unfake the advertising. And move on with what’s correct in life. Oh by the ASCI, are you listening?


It’s funny, in Taipei the other day we were talking about the good old days when companies like VIP Industries were really big advertisers and I come back and see a new advertisement from the group. This time, not for luggage but for designer hand bags. The entire film is lovingly shot on location somewhere in Europe and just shows the new sensation Alia Bhat walking around in different dresses, carrying different hand bags from the Caprese collection. Made by Company, the film has a very pleasing look about it and the use of the celebrity serves its purpose to increase awareness in the right way about the brand. At the end of the film, Alia says “I’m a Caprese girl”, and that’s about the entire “dialogue” in the film. Eminently watchable. The problem is in deciding whether you can take your eyes off the fetching Alia to take in the details of the hand bags. Oh, the problems one faces with gorgeous celebrities!!!

Ramesh Narayan is a communications consultant. Mail your comments to

Published on November 27, 2014

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