April 28, 2024 – Advertise

The process of creating advertising is not as easy as it might look to the outside world. Creative ads are those which still get noticed despite challenges like vague briefs, whimsical approval system and such like. My weekly compilation of creative ads is a small tribute to agencies & brand teams. This week, views on current advertising trends and a collection of creative ads.

The moment marketing bug

The moment marketing trend is driven by FOMO, some inexplicable need to associate a brand (often in a tenuous manner) to a news event or cause in the hope that it will generate buzz in favour of the brand – building affinity or helping it gain stature.

In that context, caught up on the reaction to the ‘Bombae’ ad, apparently in support of UP Board topper Prachi Nigam who got trolled for her looks. One of those ‘this ad is not about our brand‘ but is exactly that. How often to tell brands that not everything that’s happening in this world – is an opportunity for them to advertise?

We hope you never get bullied into using our razor‘. Pretty convoluted way of promoting the brand in the guise of not promoting the brand, but batting for a cause. This will sound harsh to the copywriter who came up with the line (BTW, this was ‘approved’?) but this is not good brand thinking or writing. Maybe a lot of those who entered advertising in the recent years (last 5-7 years?) have only been exposed to ‘digital’ advertising (images & ideas for social media posts mainly, and the occasional web film or TV script) and not to the classic print or TV work from say 1990-2000s?

Industry gurus also repeat stuff like ‘more than ever before consumers seek deep meaningful relationships with the brands they use‘ (really? I just want a product to work as advertised and if it makes me happy or proud using it, that’s a bonus) which leads to warped thinking on faux brand purpose and some random ‘social cause’ leading brand thinking. The rationale seems to be ‘let’s build affinity with the youth by associating our brand with a social cause‘. Yes, maybe the youngsters view brands which ‘do good’ in favourable light but they can see through fakery too or just lip service. And in such a scenario pegging everything on ‘you should prefer my brand because it believes in <insert cause of the day>’ will not make product anchored, benefit-driven advertising as the first, preferred approach. Sadly many business leaders and startup founders think that this is the way to go.

VOOM Nutrition: power of plants

It’s good fun when there’s a delicious twist in the tale – be it in a movie or an ad. A new ad for plant based food brand dramatises the impact of a mere plant in our lives. Great build and a hilarious climax.

Agency: McCann Bristol

Dutchie Yogurt: gut health

A majority of ads everywhere are beyond mediocre. They are just ignored – a fate worse than being disliked. Maybe that’s the case with advertising in Thailand too. But going by what bubbles up as latest advertising on social media from there, they seem to have a far better strike rate at crafting compelling advertising. Unlike India, where an idea has to cut across several language and cultural differences, Thailand has the advantage of a single language across the country. A common thread in their advertising seems to be humour – and that too, over-the-top, zany humour. Also, ads poke fun at the tactics of advertising itself and hence have a self-deprecating tone. It’s a clever ploy to solve the branding issue – as we see in this hilarious ad for Dutchie Yogurt – where a character holding the pack is randomly inserted across situations.

Agency: Ogilvy. See English subtitles here.

Persil: Guess who won

When I saw this new campaign from Persil (sold as Surf in India) I was reminded of two things: consistency of a brand property and the right use of exaggeration in advertising. It is said that advertising is ‘suspension of disbelief’ for a few seconds. No one takes it seriously if an ad shows a protagonist securing a job after using a shampoo. The second aspect is about consistently pursuing and taking forward a brand idea.

The ‘dirt is good’ platform has the ability to shock you into paying attention (coming from a detergent brand) but also makes the reader ‘connect the dots’. I don’t one should take the scenarios portrayed below literally. Cricket fans would know that the representation is no guarantee of victory but it does drive forward the original message of encouraging us all to not let worry of soiling clothes prevent us from outdoor activity. As an aside – don’t you think such campaigns work because of the platform already set by the previous efforts?

Agency: LOLA MullenLowe

Coca-Cola: recycled logo – green washing?

Is this creative thinking? Yes. One could say its bold. Who would maim their own logo (the only element in the ad) to risk not being recognised as to who the advertiser is? But Coca-Cola is among the rare brands who have distinct brand assets which are recognisable globally – even when as subtle as simply showing the outline of the bottle shape. A new campaign from the brand has put up billboards which show their logo crushed. The intent is to urge people to recycle the Coca-Cola cans. While being environment friendly and sustainability are critical issues which need extensive work, will just one billboard trigger a behavioural change in large numbers? Clearly, no. Also, a do-good message from a brand which contributes to a unhealthy lifestyle is a bit much. But that’s the magic of cola marketing – create endearing little campaigns which make the brand attractive – brighten the halo around it.

Agency: WPP Open X

MakeMyTrip: international trips

I liked both the strategy and the creative expression for this new ad campaign for a travel aggregator, MakeMyTrip. In a cluttered market where real product or service differentiation is hard to come by chances of a brand getting into the consideration set are higher by resonating with a consumer need. In that context it is smart to slice the market and consider ‘first time international travellers’ and convey that the brand understands them. In India, there is a significant group who are considering (and can afford) an international trip but will have anxiety over travel arrangements, food and sight seeing. The ad doesn’t answer how the brand is uniquely placed to address those concerns as it lists some generic features but the build up is good fun.

Streeteasy: odyssey

Finding a real-estate property you like – either for rent or purchase can be an adventure, an epic saga. In a big city like New York it can be even more challenging. A new campaign for Streeteasy literally depicts it as an odyssey – remnant of art forms.

Old world meets new world in the brand’s 2024 campaign, “Let The Journey Begin,” mixing Renaissance flair and classical art with the modernity of life in the city to reach would-be buyers no matter where they are in their journey


Agency: Mother

Mother Dairy: mother’s love

It’s actually quite refreshing to see a feel-good ad which steers clear from a lofty brand purpose, ’cause advertising’ or solving a problem for millions of Indians. The brand name helps to claim ‘motherly love’ depicted by small acts of care which bring a smile.

Agency: Ogilvy

Heinz: helping reduce food waste

Adding ketchup to unlikely food combinations – not just fries, is a thing. A heritage brand like Heinz can then lay claim to ‘helping reduce food waste since 1869’ since many avoid wasting food by finishing the last bits off with some Heinz ketchup.

Agency: Fitzroy Amsterdam

Times: Power of Print

In association with the Election Commission of India, Times Power of Print – an initiative by Times of India to celebrate creativity in print mounted a contest for a voter awareness initiative. A team from Havas won the contest by creating a page – not just ad, printed in purple (instead of the usual pink) to ‘remind people of unused ink’.

Agency: Havas

Burger King: You’ll always be King

Here’s a clever tactical idea anchored on the brand name. Sibling jealousy is common especially when the attention shifts from a elder child to a newborn. An Easter promo in UK capitalises on it through a TVC and outdoor.

Which one was your favourite? Do comment in.

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