Automobile advertising – Creative cupboard is empty

Saw the commercial for Nissan Evalia yesterday. And while today I read on that they are all renowned musicians (I didn’t know), I kept wondering why the commercial looked so familiar! Turns out that Maruit Ertiga commercial was quite similar. Links at the bottom for you all to judge.

This pretty much is the story in automobile advertising – we are bereft of ideas on how to connect with the potential buyers. Either the communication is very inward looking – come buy me.. I got so many features or a very clichéd view of why a person buys a car – relationships, success symbol, have arrived etc. And not to miss the fact about mileage.

Somehow I think that automobile communication in India never builds passion. Never makes the buyer feel in love with his wheels. Never leads to situations where the women feel threatened by the existence of ‘her’ in their lives. Ever notice that we never personify the car… always it or car.. never ‘her’.

And it is never ‘he’r because the advertising we do is absolute tripe. The cars sell because people are evolving and looking for better cars (not looking for passion)

And till such time we are not trying to look beyond our nose or stop thinking that we know everything about automobile advertising, we will continue to churn out the stuff as shown in the links.

As an aside, once I was told by a creative guy (he had tons of experience in creating automobile advertising), it is very simple (from a print perspective) – have a great looking shot of the car – smart headline (more often than not, have a bank of headlines and pick one when the need arises), specs at the bottom and voila! the ad is ready!


The real consumer in advertising

Yep the people and the situations shown in our advertising, they are all true. All of that happens and all of it really really connects with the ones watching the ads. Husband and wife arguing in the car and then it turns out that the husband had booked a table for candlelight dinner and the call comes while they are arguing (just a little plug for one of the features in Ford Figoblue tooth phone connectivity – besides the point that the person at the other end can hear himself or herself on the speakers of the car!)

Or take for instance the new Raymond ad – Oh yes… it happens always! guy comes to see a girl for marriage… a reluctant girl and all he has to do is to pick up the book she drops and voila! girl is hooked!

Or Hyundai Eon – we love the Eon so much that we even get a tattoo done or a haircut which shows the brand name – After all we love our car and we are the ones who set the trend…

Not to forget how we love to show off our fancy new refrigerator. All real parties actually end with couple standing next to the refrigerator for the climax of the party.

And don’t you know… people love watching product windows. It is the most important part of the communication. After all, how else will they know about the benefits of the charcoal lighting heater or how the toothpaste fights those nasty germs or how the anti-aging cream goes deep into the skin and works its magic to make you look younger. We are very rational creatures and we must know intricate details of how the product works… else we will not buy.

Or yes we know very well that the hatchback we have bought, it actually is like a bus! so many people can sit inside and more importantly, the moments that we have in the car – they are as real as the ones shown in the ads – reference Sail and Ertiga.

And the countless deo ads for men and skincare and cosmetic ads for women. They are all true. I mean they must be true… deo market for men is like 1000 crores a year so it must be working and all over the country, the girls are just waiting to get intoxicated by the latest deo and are ready to strip or be all over the guys… And yes, woman emancipation is for real because we have real women promoting the virtues of Dove or for that matter a dab of cream here and there and the woman can get ahead in a man’s world by charming his pants off (figuratively coz men are not supposed to be stripping and fawning just because the woman smells good or looks good – that’s only for men deos.

And do you know why all ads depict real people and real aspirations? because we in advertising know what men want and what women want! We know because we have market research agencies who spend endless number of hours understanding consumer behaviour and telling us in fancy quadrantized way about how we can segment the consumer and sharpen our communication.

And in the pre-test research, the consumers tell us too that yes they love this ad or hate that ad so obviously we have it right!

Check out this link if you don’t believe me:



Idea stretched too far

So the new airtel campaign is out. Wonder what people think of the new communication. My two pennies worth… I think it is stretched (as the title of the post says). Har ek friend jaroori hota hai was so fresh… had an insight into the users (the youth)… was stemming from the users.

But the new TVC surely lacks an insight unless the insight is “internet hai toh friendship hai” and if it is so… Bleh! as the young generation says. This TVC is all about what airtel internet offers and not what the users want.. I mean sure they want all of that stuff but they are getting that already right? Else the handsets would not have had Facebook button and preloaded social apps.

I think everybody will probably like the song but will they connect with the communication and with the brand… umm I don’t know…

The age of mediocrity

Mediocrity has become all-pervasive. Is it the signs of time or is it just in my head but I look around and see it everywhere… especially in my profession… not that I have done anything outstanding in the last one and half-year that I have moved back to advertising but hey… I can’t be faulted for that!

Consumer… insights… compelling communication… these don’t matter anymore. It is all about “I have this product… it has just great features and I know that all I need to do is communicate them and people will just line up to buy into what I am selling”. This is not an actual quote but it is the mindset that is driving the communication.

“Designed for Humans” says the tagline of Samsung Galaxy S III… eh what?? Are they trying to say that other phones are for animals? including Galaxy Note and Galaxy S II!

Saw this commercial for Rin the other day… all these women.. with nothing better to do.. gathering up by the hundreds to hear Kaajol talk about yellow fighter (I think it was called that)… So what women is this brand talking to? Seems like this is the only concern women have in their lives… white shirt. It’s a different matter that in today’s office environment, I hardly ever see a white shirt! even my kids don’t have white shirt as part of school uniform!

And of course… the less said about all the deo commercials.. the better…

Vodafone crap during the IPL… Maruti Ertiga commercial full of age old cliches… or the TVS Apache commercial with a tagline – “Scarily fast”.

The consumer, I don’t think is even bothered with the communication anymore… they probably follow the buzz on the web… read reviews… be part of forums and make their choices because those times when the commercial break used to be more entertaining than the program itself are gone…

I could go on and on… but no point to it… self-absorbed is what brands have become and to boost the topline and bottomline, agencies are also churning out stuff that gets the billing…. After all… for the awards, they anyways create scam stuff…

Idiotic Contraceptive Promotion

It is extremely stupid and downright hilarious. The latest deal on

Durex FlavorGreen Apple

Product Code: 950427

Durex FlavorGreen Apple Contents: Durex Flavors 10s pack X 2 with Green Apple 10s pack X 2

Offer Details: Free Pregnancy test Card worth MRP Rs.50/-

Price: ` 400

I knew some day condoms would be available to buy online but this promo seriously takes the cake!

I mean seriously!! a pregnancy test card with condoms?? says a lot about instilling confidence in the mind of the consumer about how safe the product really is! Wonder how Durex agreed to this promotion…


So yet another in a series of communication by liquor brands trying hard to connect with the

audience by saying something thought-provoking and profond (supposedly). And seriously, do the liquor brands really believe that this surrogate crap will make the people feel that the brand is not about drinking yourself silly, but about a social consciousness or whatever.

Johnny Walker – Keep Walking

Seagram’s Royal Stag – Make it Large
and Now Smirnoff  – I Choose to be a Hero

the underlying message to all the communication is consume me and I will consume you.

You can make it Large if you have Royal Stag. And a sports person endorsed the brand?? And the Indian Cricket team Captain also endorses another liquor brand. And now this –  I choose to be a hero by having Smirnoff.

Surrogate is fine if it stays in the fun area or something ridiculous as mineral water or glasses and stuff. But I do not think they have any business propagating any kind of philosophy… specially to the young (as all communication seems to reflect, except perhaps Johnny Walker).

Automobile Communication – It is all so easy and so shallow

So youth is the new consumer for every possible category including the automobiles. All the new compact cars that are being launched are supposedly addressing this new consumer.

Toyota Liva TVC had ticked all the boxes as far as communication to the youth is concerned. Of course the communication left many confused – was it a commercial for a car or for a mobile phone with a host of apps.

And the latest from Hyundai Eon. Must have been one very complicated brief and then even more complicated creative thinking to come up with the big idea to address youth – We got to have a song with kickass lyrics which address the mindset of youth (I want it now). Then take the car for a spin and have people admire it (traditional stuff when it comes to automobile or bikes communication – seen it so many times in past couple of decades… Hero Honda or rather Hero Motocorp was a master at it). Now comes the most crucial piece.. which would have been laboured over by the planning, servicing and the client – The “kind” of people and situations to connote youth. And we have an award-winning commercial which so connects with the youth.


Somehow all the brands… whether it is Hyundai Eon or Toyota Live (I wont include Honda Brio in this because I could not understand the commercial) or Nokia think that the youth of today is extremely shallow. In my past posts I have written enough about it  but still when i see commercials like the one under discussion… it gets me here again..

I have a very young team working with me whose average age is probably 23/24. I look at them and then I look at all these TVCs and it makes me wonder… is this bunch of young an exception or all the brands are getting it wrong. This young crowd is materialistic.. sure.. but the fact is that they are working and are very committed at what they do (probably lot more than me at their age). It is the money that they earn by working hard and smart is the money that is then spent on gadgets and all the accessories. And they want the best.. because they can afford the best and the communication under discussion is sheer wall paper for them.

The breath of fresh air is the commercial for BPTP ( a real estate company in Delhi/NCR). Unfortunately (and they missed a trick here) it is not available on youtube so I can’t give the link. But readers who live in Delhi/NCR would have seen it playing in mulitplexes. Will briefly describe it.

A working girl comes home for holiday. Her grandmother exhorts her to settle down (In India it means get married) because she is 26 now. The girl takes out her phone and tells her granny she has settled and should she show the photographs. There is a shocked look on granny’s face… her parents too (that she got married and didn’t even tell them). But what she shows are the interiors of a house that she has bought! The granny.. not to be outdone.. says that she meant marriage and the girl turns around and says “For security? Oh there is a watchmen for the complex!”

To my mind they have completely done it! broken so many stereotypes in one communication – 26-year-old buying a house and that too a girl (age and gender). Where typically most real estate communication does not address either. And then to top it all… the age-old notion that is set for girls in this country about marriage.

Tackily executed (sure looks very low-budget handy cam kind of commercial) but great on idea.

There is another one and I cant remember if it is Chevrolet Beat or Spark but it is on air currently about a woman doctor who suddenly realizes that it is Raksha Bandhan and drives over to tie rakhi to her brother… again breaks the stereotype of automobile advertising – car driving around for no reason at all (mostly by guys).

I think most brands need to go back to the drawing board and let go of shallow thinking if they really want to communicate and be part of young people’s lives.

Some links to view:

Win two tickets to Formula 1 Airtel Grandprix of India*

So let me also join the brandwagon and offer tickets to F1. It would need you to read all the posts on my blog (proof would be comment on each post). Then write a catch slogan about how good reading my blog was and then buy subscription to my blog and win tickets to F1. Of course needless to say… *T&C apply. Will pen them down when I can figure what they are.

Seriously, every one wants to offer tickets to F1. It is like people are gonna fall over themselves to be there and will buy, write and take part in everything. From five star hotels to pubs.. from durable to service operators, they would want you believe that if you not at F1, you are a loser.

Now I am also a big fan of F1… but am I gonna spend money to see the cars wizz past so fast that you don’t even know whose car was it? Nah… I would rather watch the race at Monte Carlo (which will be lot more exciting and fun)… instead of the nightmare it would be watching it in India.. the dust, the grime, the wannabe crowds, the noise, the heat… wow.. so much of the negatives… for an event which is actually made for TV (to be watched on TV)

So guess what I am gonna do.. will get a couple of beers.. will sprawl on my bean bag (I do it for every race) and watch it in the cool comfort of my living room… while people who go there would be more busy tweeting and updating their Facebook status and generally missing out on all the action and curse inwardly for all the tardy facilities that would be available at the venue. I believe beer will be served too over there. So get ready to read about all the beer brawls in the next day’s newspapers. Everyone knows how thirsty we Indians are for liquor at sports events and how we cant hold our liquor and the false sense of bravado it brings about….

ICICI – most trusted private sector bank… seriously??

So there is an ad in today’s papers. ICICI bank congratulating itself on keeping “Khyal aapka” and being the most trusted Private Sector bank. If you see the ad, it would sound like a great big achievement.

Wonder why the management took almost two weeks to announce this fact.

Could it be that the agency could not get the right copy for the ad?

Or could it be that the management kept wondering if they should really bring out the ad…. considering that they have actually slipped three places from 7 to 10 in the ranking as the most trusted service brand?? and HDFC Bank has moved from 16 to 14.

I think as a banking institution, which expects people to put their faith and money into their vaults, a slip of even one rank should be a cause for major concern. There obviously is a majority of people who have started feeling that “Khyaal Aapka” is just a tag line and it does not reflect in the way bank interacts with their consumers.

Instead of releasing an ad which doesn’t really tell the truth, the bank needs to analyse its functioning. Try and understand why its ranking has fallen. Why is it that consumers are losing faith in the bank.

Ms. Chanda Kochar needs to realise that conservative lending (there actually is nothing wrong in being conservative) and tactical cost cutting (we all know what that means) may make the books look good but in the long run, she is probably going to undo all that Mr. Kamath had done to take the bank to such great heights in the past. It is good to be conservative (after all I would not want my bank to be profligate) but it is not so good when a bank stops caring.

HDFC for instance, gives a very secure comfortable feeling. Their initiatives give a sense that the bank understands the customers and is doing various things to reach out and be a solution.

With the economy being the way it is and a global crisis round the corner, it is for the banks to choose the path they want to take… What is happening in US by way of  “Occupy Wall Street” movement, could happen in India too and all the brands that stand for money and financial services… could be in trouble. After all, the 1% rich don’t get rich by investing their own money. It is the money that they borrow from the banks and use it for fattening their pockets… is what makes them rich.