26 January 2017 14:17:55 IST

Only time will tell

Titan Raga’s motherhood advertisement is impressive, but it isn’t an out-and-out watch commercial

If my memory serves me right, Titan, the brand, was launched in 1987 when I was a young upwardly mobile advertising executive.

Having been in the ad industry and having worked with HMT watches (a brand that got systematically slaughtered by Titan), I have always watched Titan’s advertising with keen interest and a touch of trepidation in the earlier days, as my brand would usually be at the receiving end.

I have also frequently complimented both Titan and Ogilvy and Mather, who have been partners through this entire period. What a fantastic partnership! Believe me, it is no small achievement, maintaining the consistency in strategy and smartness in execution of the ads. Who can forget Titan’s catalogue style launch advertising, its pioneering of the concept of gifting or the creation of a brand property with its Mozart music track?

It was therefore hardly surprising that I watched Titan Raga’s recent commercial eulogising the mom-to-be with great interest.

Mom: stereotype no more!

Moms tend to be an integral part of our lives and television scripts. They are forever rolling chapatti s, picking up or dropping their kids or eternally waiting for uncaring kids who come home at night. You get the picture.

It is precisely this sort of mom that the Titan Raga mom does not wish to be. In case you haven’t watched the commercial that’s been recently launched here’s a quick brief about it.

It’s a tribute to a mom-to-be and there’s a fairly large family and friends gathering to felicitate her. The doting husband gifts her Titan Raga while she gets ready to deliver her acceptance speech. As is the current trend, she speaks in a combination of English and Hindi (I remember us referring to this as Hinglish in the earlier days).

She says her time has come (when she receives the Titan Raga watch as a gift) to be a mom. She goes on talk about how her mom was quite different from other mothers, as she was bindaas , and didn’t spend her life waiting for her kids to come back from school, or she wasn’t someone who followed them around endlessly or even made chapatti s for them.

She was busy leading her own life, which meant that she was touring the most exciting places and did the most romantic of things, like getting a PhD at the age of 45!

The mom-to-be reiterates that her mother will always be her role model, as she has taught her that being a mother is not so much about making a sacrifice as it is about making a choice — and it is her time to make the choice now, Titan Raga, et al . Here’s the commercial.

Is there a catch?

Let me quickly clarify that I can never be too stern a critic of Titan as I keep flaunting their watches and writing favourably about them. Yet, while it is an interesting commercial, I must add my two cents, being a consumer and a consultant to boot.

The leading light is a touch older than the Katrina Kaifs of the world we have been hitherto seeing. Is the brand subtly accepting that even if it is not getting older, its consumers are? It’s been my considered opinion that the Titan brand has been aging and is probably not as hep as it used to be, though I have no evidence to suggest that Raga suffers from the same malady.

The other concern is that while it is easy to do commercials like these that are a slice of life, the challenge is that they apply equally to any category and are not intrinsic to watches.

Of course, there is a reference to time in the script, but this is not an out-and-out watch commercial, is it? The best commercials are those that intrinsically link the category to advertising and I don’t see evidence of that. I am sure that the ad agency will argue till it is blue in the face about how old fogeys like me don’t understand the young consumer or the category.

Whilst the ads may be interesting and probably award-winning and even make great conversations, they may not be hard working enough. But then, that’s just a point of view and only time will tell if I’m right.

Let me end with a note of congratulations to the client and agency for producing great work for around three decades. May you be a great example to other clients and agencies on how to be partners in progress!

So how’s your own partnership with your ad agency?