Ad of the Day – April 2 (Mumbai)

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Today’s pick:

  • Agency: JWT India
  • Location: Mumbai
  • Client: Nike
  • Name: Make Every Yard Count
  • Category: Film
  • Why I like it: “Wow!…awesome!…bastards!” This tends to be my initial reaction when I come across and ad like this one. The first two words are marveling at the executional accomplishment: the ad features 1,440 cricketers, from 2,500 crowd-sourced moments from thousands of cricket fields all over India. The final edit is amazing to behold and works perfectly, backed by a kinetic track that adds to the effect. The third word is well-meaning professional jealousy that emerges when an idea is simple-yet-grand all at once. A memorable, iconic, world-class ad that is deeply imbued with the essence of the market in which it was produced – this is the path to follow!

 

Ad of the Day – January 10 (Mumbai)

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Please click here to go view the version with subtitles.

Today’s pick:

  • Agency: Ogilvy
  • Location: Mumbai
  • Client: Cadbury 5 Star (chocolate bar)
  • Name: Nail and Tyre
  • Category: Film
  • Why I like it: Such a charming, brilliantly simple spot. Let’s speculate wildly on the journey that brought this quirky idea to your screen: it starts with a product truth (the candy bar is now softer), which gets re-written into a claim of “no hard fillings”, which in turn (and this part is the magical leap!) is the springboard for the notion of “no hard feelings”, which then is brought to life brilliantly through the interaction between two inanimate objects…which is executed flawlessly (the voice talent, the insistent nature of the apology, the uncomfortable silence of the tire, the interruption by the ant – all fantastic choices.) A very windy road, but well worth taking to arrive at this quirky, lighthearted, off-beat approach to advertising a candy bar. Congratulations to my colleagues in Ogilvy Mumbai! 

 

Ad of the Day – November 15 (Mumbai)

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Today’s pick:

  • Agency: Ogilvy
  • Location: Mumbai
  • Client: Google
  • Name: Reunion
  • Category: Film
  • Why I like it: Wow. Someone please pass me a tissue! Extremely moving, in all the right ways. Ads like these elevate our profession. To me this is a master class in weaving in the brand into the lives and stories of consumers. This is so important, because the fact is that consumers very rarely care about brands…but they care a lot about their life, and the human experience. Google has been mastering this “weaving the brand into life” art for a while now, in ads like “Dear Sophie” and “Jess time“, and even recently started raising the stakes, in amazing ads such as the recent “Homeward Bound“. Throughout, Google is the subtle, powerful, and credible enabler of human connection. The result conveys a functional benefit while generating tremendous love towards the brand. A really, really hard trick to pull off! Masterful…and yet…what’s really also very interesting is watching them almost screw it up halfway through (you can learn a lot from mistakes). Which part of this ad lost you for a second, which part awoke the “inner skeptic”? The part where the son checks the weather…and the part where she checks the flight information, right? It’s too much! Not necessary at all! To me it feels like a brand manager getting over-eager to jam in an extra benefit, or the agency not making the tough call in the editing room. The lesson: Google credibly creates human connections? Very compelling. Google credibly informs you of the weather? Boring as hell. Both are true, but we must choose wisely. Luckily, the story is more than strong enough to recover, and the end is a tour de force. Notice that in nine out of ten ads, the final reunion is where the big climactic music bursts in…and yet here they keep the music track unchanged, and it’s all about the moment…the acting…the feeling. Sublime. Heartfelt congratulations to my colleagues in Ogilvy India!

 

Ad of the Day – August 20 (Mumbai)

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Today’s pick:

  • Agency: BBH
  • Location: Mumbai
  • Client: Skoda
  • Name: Grandma
  • Category: Film

Why I like it: I was mesmerized by this ad. It comes so close to the paradigm of greatness: “a good story, well told, well branded.” Its backbone is plain old storytelling, drawing you in as you helplessly go deeper and deeper into the experience, just as if you were around a campfire listening to a scary story told by your dad. The sparkle is provided by the magnificent, almost hypnotic visual treatment. I hadn’t seen something like this before, so simple and yet so can’t-take-my-eyes-off-it addicting. It reminded me of those Mandelbrot screen savers from way back in the day. A really nice ad, worth sharing. Did they miss a chance at greatness by letting the brand get a little lost in the midst of all this amazing storytelling? Sadly yes…and yet even so the finished product stands out among its competition.

Ad of the Day – August 7 (Mumbai)

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garage_5

Today’s pick:

  • Agency: Leo Burnett
  • Location: Mumbai
  • Client: Tide
  • Name: Garage
  • Category: Print

Why I like it: It’s branded storytelling, so plain and simple…yet somewhat unusual for a print ad. Consider: most print advertising sells a functional benefit by describing it with images or words. Whether long curvy eyelashes in a cosmetics ad, or a refreshing, icy cooling liquid in a soft drink ad, or sleek lines in a car ad, you’re shown the promise, in the hopes that it will trigger desire, or at least awareness. Other print advertising sells an emotional benefit by attaching a meaningful symbol/icon to the product and hoping that the two will stick together in your brain. A visual analogy, if you will. Think of the old Marlboro ads with the cowboy, or a high fashion ad with the sleek model on a yacht, or a luxury watch being worm by a dashing actor. Only a very few print ads manage to sell a functional benefit (eg: amazing whites!) via storytelling. This one for Tide shows you an image with the brand benefit at the core, and yet immediately the story unfurls in your brain: Infidelity! Comedy! Subterfuge! Scheming! Narrow escapes! It’s almost as if your brain takes this loaded image and “rewinds” it backwards to tell the tale. And in the center…the product benefit. Fantastic. And hard to do…which is probably why we don’t see it so often.

Ad of the Day – May 29 (Mumbai)

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Today’s pick:

  • Agency: Ogilvy
  • Location: Mumbai
  • Client: MP Tourism (tourism board for the state of Madhya Pradesh)
  • Name: “Festival of Holi”
  • Category: Film

Why I like it: What a rich visual feast. It’s almost a crime to view this through a Youtube window measuring 8x10cm! (time to bring out the big screen television and the high-definition player.) Just when you think certain narrative approaches have been done before (like the throwing of the colors), just when you think certain executional elements have been covered off on (like the rotating-camera effect), along come tremendously talented folks to re-imagine it, mix it up in different ways, and give us something that feels powerfully fresh and alive. A day-long course could be taught just diving into the details of the craft involved in these 90 seconds, the cinematography, soundtrack…every element is executed to the hilt. But, importantly, it’s all in the service of imbuing Madhya Pradesh with a sense of wonder and whimsy. It works, in a most impressive and colorful manner. Congrats to my colleagues in the Mumbai office!

Ad of the Day – January 9 (Mumbai)

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cage_aotw

tight_rope_aotw wrecking_ball_aotw

Today’s pick:

  • Agency: Ogilvy
  • Location: Mumbai
  • Client: Nataraj pencils
  • Name: “Cage, Tight rope, Wrecking ball”
  • Category: Print

Why I like it: It’s difficult not to be charmed by the child-like illustration style and the subtle, humorous hook revealing the product benefit. Simple, catchy, well executed, different, and with the product benefit at the very core of the idea. Boom, you’ve got a great print ad! Lovely work coming at us from Mumbai! (note: the cynics among you will marvel that a pencil company has the media budget to run a multiple-execution, double-page spread print campaign developed by a big-name agency, when you’re working for a major brand whose media budget barely affords a couple of pamphlets…C’mon now, cynicism is at odds with creativity – don’t let it cloud your enjoyment of great ideas when you come across them!)

Ad of the Day – November 13 (Bangalore)

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Today’s pick:

  • Agency: Ogilvy
  • Location: Bangalore
  • Client: The Hindu (a newspaper)
  • Name: “Classroom”
  • Category: Film

Why I like it: At Cannes this year one of the winning themes was what I call the “making the world a better place” category. It makes sense that, in an age of message overload, creativity can be used to break through this clutter…and it doesn’t only have to be for selling you a new bar of soap. This ad is an example of a winning collaboration: The newspaper decides they must tackle a broad, societal issue (the breakdown of civility and respectful dialogue in Indian society?), the ad agency planners tease out an interesting insight to spark the creative (let’s appeal to an adult’s sense of shame at setting a bad example for their sons and daughters), the ad agency creatives come up with a great idea to bring this to life (putting a “mirror” to our own behaviors while telling us that the youth are watching us), and finally the director crafts the ad and executes the hell out of it, with the right choices to hit the right tone (use of black and white, slow motion, music, etc.). Very instructive, and also very effective. A little bit at a time, marketers and advertisers definitely have the power to make the world a better place. Well done for our friends in Bangalore!


Ad of the Day – July 3 (London)

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Today’s pick:

  • Agency: W+K
  • Location: London
  • Client: Lurpak (spreadable butter subsitute)
  • Name: “Rainbow”

Why I like it: “Healthy doesn’t have to be humdrum”, says the VO in this ad for a butter substitute. You know what else doesn’t have to be humdrum? Creativity for motor oil…or enterprise computing software…or diapers…or talcum podwder…or shampoo…or salt…or nail clippers…or garden hoses. My point is – most people would like to be involved with a beer account, or a soft-drink, or luxury brand because they think these are among those “creatively fertile” categories. Fair enough. But the lesson to learn is that creativity can be unearthed anywhere, in anything. In fact, it’s our duty to push for it and seek it out, against all obstacles, no matter what business you’re on. Others have done it, why not you, working away quietly on your retail automotive account? Or your tax preparation account? I have a friend that went to work on the Lurpak business and I thought to myself “meh…”. Shows how little I know. What color, drama, pacing, editing, and immersive universe this little ad weaves. Fantastic ambition for a little product…brought to life on your TV set. Cheers to the folks at W+K London!

PS-  Winner of a Bronze lion at Cannes.

Ad of the Day – July 2 (Mumbai)

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Today’s pick:

  • Agency: Taproot
  • Location: Mumbai
  • Client: Mumbai Mirror (newspaper)
  • Name: “I am Mumbai”
Note:  (The quality is not great, but it’s the only one I could find with subtitles. Please watch it in full-screen format. And put the volume up loud, or wear headphones. You’ll get the full effect that way. Trust me.)
  • Why I like it: Of all the work I saw at Cannes this year this one was the one that got the loudest, most admiring spontaneous applause. Of the whole festival. This was shown during a talk given by BBDO on “craft”, where 3 ECDs dissected a favorite piece of recent work and showed us the attention to detail that went into it. This made it all the richer for me, but even upon first viewing I found this…just stunning. And the hundreds of people that broke out into awed applause were on the same wavelength. What emotional power! What gripping cinematics! What a haunting, building score! What immersive storytelling that draws you in with curiosity and keeps you guessing! What a deeper, touching message that stays with you long after the viewing! I mean, just awesome. To think that this is what advertising can be at its best…that’s inspiring. And what of the linkage to the product being advertised?(if not it would just be a short film, right?)The way it’s handled through the slates introducing each sequence, and then through the train shot at the end with the building score – masterful. This one goes right to the pantheon of the greats. Un-surprisingly, it won a Gold lion in the “film craft category”.