29 Jan 2018 17:20 IST

The campaigns, they are a-changing

A screen-grab of the latest Vodafone ad at bloncampus

A lot of brands keep changing their ad campaigns, even before they have outlived their usefulness

When do clients change their ad campaigns? Usually when they believe that their consumers are getting tired of them. The reality, however, is that clients and agencies get tired of their campaigns much before the consumers do. That’s because clients see their own campaigns so many times — in their conference rooms, as part of agency reviews and every time they have a visitor.

Consumers, however, have a million other things on their mind. They don’t spend time in conference rooms. They are too busy standing in queues, ensuring their family has three square meals and in figuring out their children’s homework! And throw in around 900 TV channels they have access to, and it’s a miracle that they actually remember their house address, much less your brand!

And yet, brands keep changing their ad campaigns, sometimes even before they have outlived their usefulness.

Pugs multiply, creativity diminishes

How many of you remember ‘Hutch’, the mobile service? Or their advertising? Well, it is difficult not to remember the dog, a pug, that the brand introduced. Clearly, the advertising had created a brand property in the pug, which I am sure would have scored highly in all advertising recall studies.

 

While the pug featured in more commercials than a few Bollywood stars (and even escalated the price of pugs in India, if rumours are to be believed), it was part of several memorable commercials. This ad shows the boy’s faithful friend following him everywhere and ending up on his bed, the final message being the network follows you everywhere.

Let me once again reiterate my peeve with the brand’s advertising, which is true of all mobile service providers in India — ‘It has no relation to the actual level of service or coverage in the country!’ Sadly, as a consumer of Vodafone, I cannot really believe the claim of the network following me everywhere, as it has not been my experience with the brand.

Most recently, Vodafone came out with another commercial, that features another young boy being followed by a whole group of pugs. And the commercial has an astonishing claim — that it adds a tower every hour! Wow! Some clock! This claim seems as outlandish as saying Afghanistan is the greatest cricket team of all time, just because it made it to the Under-19 World Cup semi-finals in New Zealand.

 

 

Where is Hari Sadu?

Do you remember the old Naukri ad? It features an ill-tempered, evil boss who is universally hated and aptly called Hari Sadu. The boss’ assistant tells him the restaurant he wants reservation at, is on the line. Even as he tries to book a table for two, the man on the other end of the line seems to have a problem getting his name right.

At this time, one of his subordinates offers to help and does so by giving a cheeky expansion of the name — H for Hitler, A for arrogant, R for rascal and I for idiot — to the absolute delight of his peers and the shock of the boss. The tagline from the brand said, ‘Guess who has just heard from us?’

 

Clearly, a lot of young people leave their jobs because their immediate supervisor is insufferable. And while the ad may have offended a few employers, I think it was quite popular with younger people, whose bio-datas populate the brand’s website.

The brand recently changed its commercial for a more functional, less edgy and perhaps even less interesting one, featuring a number of bored, unwilling employees who have to be dragged to work on a Monday. Naukri offers itself as the alternative to a boring life at work — by helping them land jobs they will actually enjoy.

 

Now, irrespective of whether or not you’re looking for a change, which ad do you find more interesting? I realise that the brand has changed its positioning, but as a consumer, do I really care?

And men will always be men

Let me end with a new commercial, where, a young man wanting to impress a young woman on the road, attempts to change a car’s punctured tyre, presuming it was hers — only to realise later that it wasn’t!

 

But why do I prefer the earlier commercial, which features two guys with paunches (resembling mine), who suck it in with great effort to impress a young woman?

 

This is the eternal challenge — changes happen in both agencies and clients’ offices and those normally result in new advertising campaigns with different executions.

But is change always for the better? You tell me!

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