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HindustanTimes Wed,17 Sep 2014
When ads tug at the heart strings and push products just as well
Shreya Sethuraman, Hindustan Times
December 14, 2013
First Published: 17:29 IST(14/12/2013)
Last Updated: 20:07 IST(14/12/2013)

They make you stop and think, bring a tear to your eyes and a smile to your lips - yes, some advertisements can make you do all of this (and push the products too). We remember Sarita ji promoting Surf with "Samajhdari hai!", the little runaway boy in the Dhara ad who returns only when Ramu kaka promises jalebis. And of course, the Cadbury TV spot featuring a crazy girlfriend doing an impromptu jig on the cricket field when her boyfriend hits the last ball for a six.     

But we've had a spate of silly ads for quite a while now. We're certain that Mr HCL is stalking Mr Banker, because he seems to show up everywhere! We really can't see those naked babies dancing to dhinka chika any more. Or those annoying kids getting needlessly dirty so that mom can smile indulgently and do the laundry.

But recently, there's been a new wave of TV ads that have made us sit up and take notice. They have entered drawing room conversations and made us look at relationships in a different light. We look at five such ads and talk to their makers.

A teary reunion for all

http://www.hindustantimes.com/Images/popup/2013/12/advt1.jpgClient: Google
Agency: Ogilvy India
National creative director: Abhijit Avasthi

What it's about
A timeless tale of friendship. Two friends, Baldev and Yusuf, separated by Partition, miss each other sorely. They stole sweets from a shop in Lahore when they were kids. Baldev's granddaughter sees her grandfather pining for his friend and goes to Google to locate the said sweet shop, finds Yusuf's grandson and tells him the story.

She speaks to Yusuf as well. The grandson, overjoyed to see his grandfather smile, uses Google search to find out how to get an Indian visa. The grandchildren eventually make the friends meet. When Yusuf lands at Baldev's home, wishing him, "Happy birthday, yaaraa," Baldev can only say, "Yusuf oye... oye Yusuf!" They start crying. So do you.

Why it makes the cut
It tells a beautiful, moving story of how even something as bitter as Partition could not erase the fond memories that two friends have of their shared childhood. As soon as the ad was released, it touched hearts and became a talking point.

What the makers say
Abhijit Avasthi: "Google is a warm and magical brand. We wanted to show that search can also be magical.

People use Google all the time, but many are still unaware of the day-to-day things one can find out with its help. The main idea was to get Google closer to people. Sometimes, things just fall into place, but the response to this ad was unprecedented."

Romantic remarriage

http://www.hindustantimes.com/Images/popup/2013/12/advt2.jpgClient: Tanishq
Agency: Lowe Lintas & Partners
National creative director: Arun Iyer

What it's about
A young woman is getting ready for her wedding, wearing a peach-coloured sari and a stunning necklace. A little girl accompanies her to the mandap. When the pheras begin, the girl says, "Mumma, mumma, I also want to go round-round." Realisation dawns. This is a remarriage. The husband picks up the girl in his arms and all three of them take the pheras. The ad ends with the girl asking the man, "Aaj se papa bulaaoon?"

Why it makes the cut
It's refreshing, it's something we haven't seen in Indian ads. Not only does the ad openly feature remarriage (still relatively uncommon), but the leading lady (Priyanka Bose) is a devastatingly good-looking, dark-skinned woman. This comes as a lovely surprise in a market teeming with fairness cream ads.

What the makers say
Arun Iyer: "Tanishq came to us with their contemporary collection. So we thought everything should be contemporary. And the idea of remarriage was nice. We made it a cosy affair, made the bride wear muted colours. The girl calling her Mumma was not a major twist, it had an impact because it comes at the end. As for choosing a dark-skinned girl, the fact that she was 'dusky dark' got picked up later. It wasn't intentional. That it became a talking point is great for advertising and business as well. Admakers aren't afraid to take on bold conversations."

At home in the army

http://www.hindustantimes.com/Images/popup/2013/12/advt3.jpgClient: Asian Paints
Agency: Ogilvy India
National creative director: Abhijit Avasthi

What it's about
A newly-wed wife enters her army Major husband's quarters and jokes about how everything is in its right place and how even the sofa cushions seem to be on march past. She enters the bedroom and is speechless. Her husband has made it into an exact replica of her room at her maternal home. "Ye toh bilkul mere ghar jaisa hai!" she exclaims. He says, "Taaki tumhe aisa na lage ki tum apna ghar chhodke aayi ho." Aww!

Why it makes the cut
It's touching. This is an ad where a man thinks about what his wife wants and what will make her happy. You don't get to see these little touches in commercials.

What the makers say
Abhijit Avasthi: "We've been handling Asian Paints for many years (remember the ads with the delightful Manoj Pahwa as the elder brother?). The "har ghar kuch kehta hai" line is an extension of oneself. You can use your house to express your emotions."

A few good men

http://www.hindustantimes.com/Images/popup/2013/12/advt4.jpgClient: ICICI Prudential
Agency: Lowe Lintas & Partners
National creative director: Amer Jaleel

What it's about
A nod to the little things men do for their women. The men in the family take care of the little things that women might not otherwise consider: blocking the sun's rays so your wife doesn't have to squint in the sun, waiting for her to switch on the light so you know she's home safely after coming down to give you the wallet you forgot. The jingle "Bande achhein hain" runs in the background.

Why it makes the cut
Men can be forgetful, they can be incorrigible, but that doesn't mean they're insensitive. It's a well-executed ad that makes you sit up and notice that not all men deserve to be bashed.

What the makers say
Amer Jaleel: "ICICI wanted an emotional celebration of men. They take a lot of knocking, but there is a population of faithful duty-bound loyal men, the sort who'd go for insurance. We wanted to celebrate the unusual things that you don't notice about men. So while we do rap men on the knuckles for their wrong doings, here are a few things they do right. It's not correct to paint all men with the same brush. The ad was meant to uncover the little things about the people we know so dearly.

The credit belongs to the audience. We're only responding to the need and clamour of an evolved audience, who're looking for these conversations."

Marriage is working

http://www.hindustantimes.com/Images/popup/2013/12/advt5.jpgClient: Bharat Matrimony
Agency: Lowe Lintas & Partners
Executive Director: GV Krishnan

What it's about
A young man at the family dining table is asked by his parents why his wife hasn't come home from office yet. The son recently got a raise, so why should the daughter-in-law work? His wife enters and overhears her husband's response: 'She works because she likes to work.' The wife smiles and joins the table, and the husband serves her food. All is well.

Why it makes the cut
It's a nice change from most matrimonial ads which show how a wife has to please her husband. The ad shows the husband standing up for his wife.

What the makers say
GV Krishnan: "We had an interesting mandate, to come up with a fresh point of view for the brand. The problem - while there are many online matrimonial sites, they’re the last place a prospect would go to. Often friends, relatives and other traditional sources for matchmaking are preferred. Many seem to approach the site with ‘chalo jake dekhte hain, agar kuch ho jaaye toh....’ Many sites unfortunately also didn't carry interesting younger profiles.

Our campaign task was to get the younger audience to consider the category early on, and not as a last resort.

We already had some learnings from BharatMatrimony and did our consumer research as well, which led us to an interesting insight. Marriages failed, not on account of lack of love. Love certainly was there, but the root cause of break ups - when there is no sincere appreciation and celebration of each other's interest and passions. That seemed to mess up promising relationships. This led us to - real love is just not falling in love with the person but with everything around him/her.

What of the criticism that why must a woman have to mention in her profile that she would like to continue to work even after her marriage? "We had to bring it back to the brand, and the user experience. It’s a normal thing you’d consider to share when enrolling on a matrimonial website to chose your life partner. And here we’re talking to an Indian woman from the middle income group, for whom this is the most important thing."

Rajesh Ramaswamy, Group Creative Director, Lowe Lintas: "'Finding real love' could have ended up in very cliched romantic situations. We were quite clear that it had to be something deeper. We wondered why a lot of couples we knew despite being madly in love, do not end up getting married. I think there are a lot of other things that come to mind when it comes to marriage. It's not about loving you alone. You start to think about how well he or she will fit into your family, your lifestyle, understand your priorities, a lot of very personal stuff. I actually remembered Mani Ratnam's quote where he was speaking about Alai Payuthey, saying he wanted to explore a love story where other love stories end, and narrate what happens after the first milk packet comes home. We knew that even our answer was somewhere in that space. Articulated simply as 'Find someone who cares for what you love'. We then got Vivek Kakkad on board to help us capture these moments in a beautiful yet real way."

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