"The best ideas come as jokes. Make your thinking as funny as possible," said David Ogilvy once.
A number of ad creatives have tried to beat the summer's heat this year with 'funny' on their minds, even as they have attempted to move away from forced slapsticks, overt spoofs, puns, tired clichés or the usual filmy farce. Humour in advertising this summer seems to be more about quick wit and inspirations from our daily lives. Or somebody else's.
Like them or don't, the two ad campaigns from Parle Agro, for Frooti and LMN, certainly catch attention. While Frooti's TV ads use the disruptive route (giant mangoes rolling down slopes or falling off trees), LMN's ads use dark humour on thirst.
"A chuckle can make you feel good," said Sajan Raj Kurup, founder, chairman and chief creative officer, Creativeland Asia.
The agency did the two Parle Agro campaigns. Frooti's pranks on pedestrians, captured on video and converted into television commercials with canned laughter, which the company is touting as reality TV in advertising, and into virals, is definitely a move away from its earlier, standard fare.
LMN's five commercials, shot in the Kalahari Desert, document the bushmen's quest for water, in drops.
"For LMN, we locked on an edgy, dark humour creative. Turns out the idea is universal. It has received appreciation from across the globe," said Kurup.
But it also got brickbats.
"When it comes to dark humour, either you are for or against it," shrugged Kurup.
In a slice-of-life with an endearing twist to it, Metlife Insurance has a grandmother do the boogie on the yesteryear number Aaja aaja…. There's a slice-of-life storyline with a husband, a blackmailing grandson and grown-up children. The insurance proposition is woven into the story.
The American Tourister brand of luggage's ride on a Mumbai local train to a high-pitched Yeh duniya badi mazedar… delivery is understated humour with a wry twist to it that you can relate to.
Or Tanishq, the jewellery brand, which chose to deviate from its earlier creative strategy of glamourising the product.
Tanishq's TV commercial brings out the concerns of parents coaxing their daughter to consider a marriage proposal. The to-be-bride, who shows no interest, is cleverly enticed by her mother to the Tanishq showroom to try on the bridal range of jewellery. Fascinated, the daughter decides to consider the proposal.
"Humour does play a big role, but it's the insight that comes first. Here, we are primarily addressing those looking for wedding-related jewellery. This insight helped us address parents, who as consumers now relate to Tanishq as a brand rather than just a product," said Bhuvan Gaurav, head marketing, Tanishq.
Going strong on its Seedhi baat, no bakwaas, Sprite has stuck to its unique style of tickling the funny bone.
For Limca too, Coca-Cola India has preferred to unleash the next level of general good humour in the latest communication, which still underlines freshness.
"Humour is integral to our communication though its treatment, as emotional engagement, is different for each brand since their target groups are different," said Srinivas Murthy, director - marketing, flavours, Coca Cola India.
Videocon Mobile Services, with its Pakdo Life Ka Har Signal tagline, uses multiple small stories to convey 'depth' rather than the more commonly communicated 'width' of its network.
"We've invested in technology, a quality-based differentiation. Our brief to the agency was to create an engagement with the target audience by creating a connect with the simple things in life," said Sunil Tandon, CMO, Videocon Telecommunications.
And for Virgin Mobile, actor and youth icon Ranbir Kapoor uses his wit to make people call him so he can earn from incoming calls.
It's a sweltering summer, no doubt, but not without a few laughs.