Ad the southern spice

Priyanka Pani Mumbai | Updated on March 12, 2018

Television advertisements appear to have latched on to a new medium to get their message across. Engage a South Indian, whose food habits, accent or even singing become the ad’s central theme.

Most creatives running on television these days have a main character who is distinctly from the South. Why the sudden emphasis?

Santosh Desai, CEO of Futurebrands, believes advertisers have woken up to the fact that India is not just New Delhi NCR or metro region alone, and that they need to look at other markets too.

“Media is no more region-specific. The same advertisement is reaching out to a nondescript village in Karnataka and Rajasthan as well as the big metros,” said Desai. When hinterland recipes become popular in the metros and more and more marriages cross regional and linguistic barriers, why should ads be left behind, he asks.

PepsiCo’s recent television commercial for 7up shows a girl waiting for transport on a hot sunny day, and is suddenly entertained by a Kathakali dancer, who appears to be gyrating to a salsa number. Another ad from Nestle, for its Munch brand, has cricketer Virat Kohli portraying a south Indian character, Balakrishnan Vaali.

Conceptualised by creative agency JWT, the Munch ad has been able to strike a chord with both north and south Indians, say advertisers.

According to Kiran Khalap of creative agency Chlorophyll in Mumbai, “Ad makers are no longer putting a face to any region, but are looking at all consumers.” The trend appears to be sweeping across corporates.

From chocolate companies to AC manufacturers, banks to financial service companies, and even lubricant makers, companies have jumped on the bandwagon, all rolling southwards.

AC firm Voltas has a Tamil-accented male protagonist to promote its all-weather air conditioner. Competitor Lloyds AC too has decided to take the southern route.

Alpana Parida, of DY Works, says that, earlier, most brands created a separate ad film for the southern market and another for the rest of India. However, today, given the melting pot of cultures, people in the south have started incorporating northern traditions, such as having a ‘sangeet’ at weddings, with grooms wearing ‘sherwanis’ and people binging on butter chicken and rajma chawal. It’s just a question of blending the two, she said.

Besides, with people travelling to other States for work or business opportunities, advertisers feel the need to stay connected with consumers in different and unique ways, she added.


Published on March 31, 2013

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