12 Jan 2018 19:32 IST

The advertising year in retrospect

The best advertising is simple, has a powerful idea — and makes you wish you were in it

How was 2017 as a year for advertising?

The industry did grow, particularly in areas such as digital, but I won’t focus too much on the business side of advertising. Rather, I will look into the business of advertising, which is all about making ads and TV commercials.

  

As an avid consumer of TV advertising (I strongly believe that the advertising in India is better than the programming), I have my own views about them — some of them are quite strong, even if I am not the target audience for many of the products being advertised. Which means that I can be truly objective about them!

If I have missed out some nice ads (which is inevitable in an exercise of this nature), you can put it down to a combination of old age, selective amnesia and boredom.

Broad trends

Were there any broad trends that were observed? Was there too much reference to sex and sexuality, openly or obliquely?

Actually, though certain categories like deodorants and fragrances continue to use sex to sell their products, the references seem a lot more muted now. Even Fastrack, which has a reputation for being in-your-face, is only mildly flirtatious in its commercials.

There has also been the emergence of hitherto unadvertised categories, such as perfumes, making their presence felt. Here is a commercial for Fogg, which talks about how a perfume is a great gift that reminds the recipient of the giver.

  

It is also worth noting that Fogg, the deodorant, went back to its earlier advertising of ‘Fogg chal raha hai’, showing how the deodorant brand is actually a phenomenon sweeping the country — even at the borders, if the advertising is to be believed!

It’s a woman’s world

For too long, we have lived in a man’s world, as they seem to call the shots in the world of business. Consumer marketing is all about women, who make decisions for household products. But 2017 was different — we witnessed it as being the ‘year of the women’, especially in advertising.

There were a number of commercials that spoke up about women’s equality and portrayed them as equal to the men in the household. There was an initiative by Star Plus, the channel that ran the ‘Nayi Soch’ campaign, which showed Aamir Khan as the owner of a sweet shop. In the ad, he acknowledged the role his two daughters played in taking the business to the next level.

The commercial’s message, that your daughters can scale up your business even better than your sons, is brilliantly captured in it.

 

 

The right to a half

Two other ads stood out for me. The Benetton ad is forthright and says women have a right to half of everything — including the power to decide, which has been denied to them for ages. But then, the brand’s advertising has always been about attitude, and this commercial only reiterates that.

 

Tata Tea, another brand that has believed in exhorting its consumers to act, addresses gender equality, and shows how it is learnt and is not inborn. In the ad, a mother allows the son to go to play badminton, while she asks her daughter to stay back and learn to cook, because otherwise, people will say she hasn’t been a good mom.

Talking about issues

Brands are realising that it is easier to talk about interesting issues in an engaging way than to hard-sell your brand’s attributes. It gives them the flexibility to address these issues in a longer format that YouTube provides, unlike mass media advertising on national channels.

 

Romance in the air

My favourite commercial, however, is of Dairy Milk Silk, which features two young college kids and how once they start messily eating the chocolate, they hear trumpets and violins — or bells and whistles, if you will!

It’s a young person’s commercial and I am sure the target audience is the young adults and children, who can’t wait to grow up and get out of childhood. I am sure they would like to experience the wonderful emotion depicted so entertainingly and endearingly in this commercial.

 

As can be seen, the best advertising is simple, has a powerful idea — and makes you wish you were in it! In this case, it would have made you wish you were in the frame, eating chocolate with the girl you love!

Well, there’s no harm in hoping, is there?

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