Sometimes, television commercials can be so funny that we prefer to stay put on our couches during commercial breaks, and go make our popcorn during the shows we’re trying to watch. But which of those ads are the funniest? We asked five advertising professionals to think about it and let us know. And when the lists came in, we were amused to find many overlaps. Apparently, the Center Shock ad featuring the haircut was really hysterical. And the Greenply reincarnation ad was responsible for nearly as many laughs. And the rest? Read on.
Center Shock – The Haircut
A man enters a hairdressing saloon. He shows the proprietor a magazine, telling him he wants the same hairstyle. The barber studies the magazine and gives the client Center Shock chewing gum. The customer has convulsions, and finally, ends up with the desired hairstyle.
Tagline: Naya Center Shock chewing gum, hila ke rakh de.
Priti: The setup is very funny. The old barber and the gum-chewing guy are straight-faced and so funny. It is incongruous and mad.
Alyque: The shock on the man’s face when the barber shows him his face in the mirror is amusing. Every time I see the ad, I burst out laughing.
Prahlad: The end is hilarious. The hairstyle of the model and the man match so perfectly. Every time, I watch this ad, I fall out of my chair.
Prasoon: This is pure slapstick comedy. I find the ad humorous.
Camlin Marker – Vermillion
It opens with the information that in India, vermillion, bangles and a locket are signs of a married woman, and that when a woman loses her husband, she is stripped of these symbols. The husband applies vermillion to a wife’s forehead daily as it is supposed to be connected to his lifeline.
The scene shifts to a village in Rajasthan where rudalis (professional mourners) are waiting for a man to die. When he does, they break the wife’s bangles and remove her locket. But they are unable to wipe off her bindi. Just then, the husband coughs and comes back to life. The flashback shows that instead of putting vermillion on his wife’s head, the husband had done it with a red marker.
Tagline: Camlin permanent markers, really permanent.
Priti: I find the ad very funny and it has also won international awards.
Balki: Everyone has such a deadpan expression, but in the end one can’t help but laugh. The concept is hilarious. A serious situation is turned around.
Vodafone – The ZooZoos
Was there anyone who wasn’t hooked on to the ZooZoos’s antics during last season’s IPL? But our panel had two favourites
ZooZoo stock market alerts
Two ZooZoos are sitting on a bench. One is reading a newspaper, and while reading, faints. Four ZooZoos carry him away on a stretcher. The second ZooZoo picks up the newspaper and begins to read. He faints too. The next screen reads: Stock alerts@ Rs30/month.
Tagline: Make the most of now
Alyque: Of all the ZooZoo ads, I find this the funniest. And I love the kicker in the end - that puts everything together in a funny way. It is very clever.
ZooZoo job alerts
A ZooZoo is alone in a room, contemplating suicide. There is a rope tied to the fan. Finally, he gets on the stool and puts his head inside the loop. Just then, his phone beeps. He looks at the message (it’s a job alert) and laughs. Next scene, he’s laughing and swinging by one hand from the same rope.
Balki: All ZooZoo ads are funny but this one takes the cake. The concept and the way it’s done is what makes it humorous.
Greenply – Reincarnation
A Sikh family (mother, father and son) is on a bus in South India. Suddenly the boy, speaking in a South Indian language, asks the bus driver to stop and barges into a South Indian home. He spots a table and a flashback shows a man writing at the same table. He reads out a name – Savitri. He then reclines on a chair, as an old woman watches him. She realises her husband used to recline in a similar fashion and runs to the boy, saying ‘Swami’. The boy holds her hand, calling her ‘Savitri’. Tagline: Greenply, janam janam ka sathi.
Priti: The actors perform with very deadpan expressions and the whole story makes me laugh.
Prasoon: I find it funny because of the idea. I like how the strength of the ply is tied up with reincarnation.
Balki: More than the reincarnation, I find the idea of a little Sardar boy being an old woman’s husband very funny. Their interaction makes me laugh.
Fevicol – Hen and Egg
There is work going on next to a dhaba. The dhaba owner begins to make an omelette. The third egg he picks up from the basket refuses to break, even when he hits it against the kadhai and with a pan. When he tries to break it with a hammer, the egg flies out of his hand and makes a hole in a metal pot. He then realises that the hen was pecking on a can of Fevicol.
Tagline: Fevicol ka majboot jod hai, tootega nahin.
Prahlad: The way it is picturised makes me laugh.
Prasoon: It’s a lateral ad. The hen is eating Fevicol and that’s why she gives unbreakable eggs. It’s quite funny.
Balki: The fact that a hen has eaten from the bucket of Fevicol and that’s why her egg doesn’t break is too funny.
Happy Dent – Photo studio
There’s a photo session with a model. The model requests the photographer to stop. Begging her for one more, he tilts the face of a man standing beside him. The man puts something inside his mouth and starts chewing. As the photographer shouts ‘Smile’, the man gives a bright smile, filling in for a flash.
Tagline: The teeth whitening gum
Prasoon: It’s funny because of the way it is shot. The brand wanted to pitch the gum as a dental gum for healthy teeth. We made a fun ad, and it became a fun product.
Prahlad: This ad is very funny. I love its punchline, ‘Smile please’.
Fevi Kwik - Fishing
A suave old man in a beret is fishing patiently. Just then, a lungi-clad South Indian man walks up to the bank, making a lot of noise, armed with just a stick. The old man asks him to be quiet. The South Indian man then applies Fevi Kwik to the stick four times, and sticks it in the water. Next second, he catches four fish, much to the amazement of the older man.
The tagline says, ‘Chutki mein chipkaye, Fevi Kwik’.
Priti: I find this ad funny because of the way the story is told. I also like the expression on the old pompous man’s face.
Balki: This ad’s format is hilarious. I find the actors’ performances also funny, especially, the loud, chatty guy.
And the rest of the best...
Prasoon Joshi’s other picks...
Coke – Aamir Khan’s ‘Paanch’ ads
These showed Aamir in different garbs – a villager or a government babu. He acts and talks exactly as the character and tells other characters in the ad how chota Coke costs just Rs 5.
Prasoon: The ads were very funny and extremely popular. A price launch had never happened in such a fashion before. All the commercials were thematic. The ads were funny because of the dialogues, and Aamir’s performance. His dialogue delivery is what made everyone laugh.
Tehelka – Crows
A politician is delivering his election speech in a village. A few crows start flying over him. They increase in number, forcing people to duck. The politician struggles to make his slogans heard, but gives up when a crow alights on his microphone. The voiceover says “Jhooth bole, kauwa kaate.”
Tagline: Tehelka. Subscribe to the truth.
Prasoon: I love the insight – that jhooth bole kauwa kate bit.
Prahlad’s other picks...
Bingo – Mad Angles
This is a series of ads satirising various situations.
Prahlad: I found the initial Bingo ads strangely funny. The jokes are corny, anti-humour. Actually, you laugh at them long after you see them. Then, too, you laugh in embarrassment because you realise that they have played a joke on you.
Pepsi – Mera Number Kab Aayega
In a playground of kids, a little boy awaits his turn at the swings. Running out of patience, the boy asks an ayah, ‘Mera number kab aayega?’ She reassures him, “Aayega baba, aayega.”
Cut to a school basketball court. The coach selects the team, ignoring a boy. “Mera number kab aayega?” the boy asks the coach. “Tera number aayega,” the coach insists.
Next, Cyrus Broacha watches a Pepsi bottle spinning on a table. The bottlem stops, pointing to a boy to his left, who gets to kiss the girl on his right. “Mera number kab aayega?” asks Cyrus. The voiceover says, “Ab to aa hi jaayega”, because there are lucky numbers under Pepsi crowns that lead to big prizes. Assured, Cyrus says, “Mera number aayega.”
Prahlad: It’s a funny ad because, first, Cyrus looks like the perfect loser, and secondly, because, even at the end of the ad, he is a loser. His number still hasn’t come. No brand wanted to associate with a loser. But with this ad, we tried to connect, not with the winner, but with the millions who wouldn’t win.
Alyque’s other picks...
Fevicol – Bus
The first shot is of a man swaying slightly from side to side. As the camera pans across the scene, you realise there are a number of people all packed into and atop a moving bus. Despite the overcrowding, no one shows any signs of distress. Finally, on the back of the bus, you see the Fevicol logo with the line ‘The ultimate adhesive’.
Alyque: As the ad progresses, you wonder how nobody falls off the bus. It’s only in the end when you see the Fevicol logo that you put two and two together. It’s funny because you do not know what to expect at the start of the ad. It’s a sting in the tail kind of funny.
Britannia biscuit – Gabbar Singh
An old ad, it shows Gabbar Singh enacting the “kitne aadmi the” scene and eating a biscuit. All the characters in the ad are same as in the movie, including Amjad Khan as Gabbar.
Alyque: It was funny because we used real film characters and made a parody.
Foster’s – Australian For Beer
There was a series of Foster’s Australian For Beer commercials. In this one, a man hurls an alarm clock at another man, making him cry out. The voiceover says, ‘Australian for alarm clock’.
Alyque: I find this one extremely funny because it is vicious. The story is unexpected.
Priti’s other picks...
Happy dent – lightbulb
An army of people light up a palace with teeth which have been buffed to a blinding whiteness with HappyDent – the chewing gum for sparkling teeth.
Priti: The idea of men being bulbs leaves me in splits.
Axe – Lift
A handsome man sprays on Axe deodorant in a lift. As he leaves, a small man walks in. So does a sexy woman, who eyes the small man and stops the lift. When she leaves, he is partially undressed.
Priti: The way the girl looks at the guy, and his discomfort is very amusing.
Balki’s other pick...
Idea – Caste
Riots break out between two communities in a village. Villagers approach the sarpanch (Abhishek Bachchan) for a settlement. The sarpanch rules, ‘koi bhi apne naam se nahin jaana jayega’. People then begin to be known by their cellphone numbers instead of their caste. A man praises the sarpanch, “What an idea, sirji!”
Tagline: An idea can change your life.
Balki: The concept of people being called by numbers tickles a funny bone. Also, sometimes, an ad is funny because of the actors’ performances. Abhishek Bachchan and his sidekick are a bit over the top, but they make me laugh.