21 May 2015 13:56:20 IST

The creative commercial

Or how to come up with a winning idea for a campaign

Creative people are the lifeblood of the advertising business. They win the agency business and awards for themselves. A truly talented creative person can make you smile, feel nostalgic, ecstatic or depressed in the space of thirty seconds. The really smart ones make you reach for your wallet or credit card. We’re all aware that the creative mind is different from that of the average Johnny like me, not you dear reader. They can see opportunities where none exist and open doors that others aren’t even able to see.

But where do creative people get their ideas and inspirations from? If Mozart said, “I have never made the slightest effort to compose anything original,” then imagine the plight of us ordinary mortals! Ultimately, all of us go through experiences. We read, we watch, we listen and often times absorb. Creative people, though, use these experiences and tailor them to sell products or services.

Let me give you a few examples.

Van Heusen makes you an offer you cannot refuse

We all grew up on the Godfather. And here I am talking about the bestselling book by Mario Puzo. The movie and its sequels came later. The Don was a powerful, magnetic individual who made people listen and do what he wanted them to do. He had presence and exuded power. Watch the commercial for Van Heusen made in the early ’90s just after liberalisation and you will understand the similarity. Click this to see the video.

Van Heusen was a brand from the Madura Garments stable. Unlike Louis Philippe, which had a visible upper crest, Van Heusen had no visual characteristics to distinguish it or the merchandise. The creative person, trained to think differently, noticed the red line at the bottom of the logo and came up with the line “underline your presence”. The scene had shades of the book and the movie and all the models were foreigners, in tune with the Indian craze (then) for anything foreign.

Singing in the rain

To anyone who was young in the Seventies (God, how long ago that seems) and living in Tamil Nadu, Ilayaraja was God. One of the most visible movies of that time was a movie titled Idhayathai Thirdudathe. It featured a vivacious girl who was cheerful despite her serious illness. The sights, smells and sounds of rain make her dance in the street with some urchins. Click this to see the video.

And clearly the creative person behind the Liril orange commercial must have been inspired by the maestro. It is important, however, to remember that advertising is not so much about entertaining as are movies but about selling. So, whatever the inspiration, the final output must have a sales pitch and this is what the commercial offers and the tune winds up with a link up to the original Liril tune and that is what the creative person brings to the table. He links the tune with the original music track and reminds us that every ad is one more brick that adds to the overall image and recall of the brand. Click this to see the video.

Brownie or Dairy Milk, take your pick

How many of you remember the movie Notting Hill. This iconic movie starring Julia Roberts and Hugh Grant is always playing on HBO and other movie channels. In any case it involves a famous actress who yearns for a normal life. She has dinner with an ordinary middle class family with a fair share of problems, though who handle it cheerfully. Everyone has to tell the audience why they deserve the last brownie and Julia Roberts, the actress earning millions, tells her story. It’s endearing. Click this to see the video.

Cut to the latest Dairy Milk commercial featuring the golden star of yesteryear, Waheeda Rehman, who comes as a grandmother. Everyone gives a reason as to why they should have the Dairy Milk and while they are waiting, she pops it into her mouth saying that who knows how long she is going to be around, and then bursts out laughing, much to everyone’s delight, and relief. Click this to see the video.

Don’t be a Bappi Lahiri

Adapting, refining or using a movie or a song or even a book as the basis for a commercial is not a new idea. But if handled deftly it can make a big difference to your brand. Avoid the temptation to do a Bappi Lahiri and ape it. First see its relevance to your brand. Does it jell with your brand message? Can you use the idea in its essence and yet add your own twist? If it’s an international idea, film or song, does it have local relevance?

And, finally, remember it is not so much about paying tribute to the creator of the idea as much as it is about building your brand. May you have many inspirational moments!

To read more from the Third Umpire section, click here .