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Best advertising campaigns of the year

Last updated on: December 30, 2010 15:45 IST

Best advertising campaigns of the year

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Viveat Susan Pinto in Mumbai

"The average was better than the standard," says Prahlad Kakkar, outspoken ad filmmaker of Mumbai-based Genesis Films and who is best remembered for his work on Pepsi.

A keen observer of advertising, Kakkar sums up the fare dished out this year in no uncertain terms.

"Nothing extra-ordinary," he says, something that many other agency and creative heads admit privately. 2010 did not have any of the creative sparks that 2009 did, thanks largely due to Vodafone's Zoozoos that year. But there were some good pieces of work nevertheless.

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Image: Prahlad Kakkar.

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Youtube First, then TV

One of the early adopters of YouTube as an advertising medium was Vodafone. The advertiser used the online video-sharing web site to preview its Zoozoo ads a day before it broke on TV.

That was in 2009. The use of YouTube generated a lot of buzz and word-of-mouth for the campaign. The trend caught on this year, with a few more advertisers jumping on the bandwagon.

Notably Airtel, which undertook a Rs 300-crore (Rs 3 billion) revamp of its logo and advertising this year, broke its television commercial on the website first before launching it on TV.

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Image: Vodafone Zoozoos.

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Recently, Coca-Cola launched its new shadow commercial featuring actor Imran Khan on mobile phones. Basically, text messages were sent to consumers asking them to download the new commercial on their mobile phones.

This was the first time that mobile phones were used as a vehicle to view, download, share and comment about a Coke commercial before its breakout on TV.

It was a huge gamble for one of the largest advertisers in the country, which relies heavily on TV advertising to propagate and shape its message.

The gamble paid off. In the first six days of the launch of the campaign, there were 400,000 downloads and 90,000 referrals.

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Image: Coca-Cola advertisement.

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The message is clear: Advertisers are increasingly using digital and social media for mainline advertising campaigns rather than one-off marketing exercises.

Digital and social media are now becoming the new barometer to gauge the popularity of a campaign before it is released on mass media.

As Prasoon Joshi, executive chairman & chief executive officer, McCann-Erickson Worldgroup India, says, "2010 is a year when this middle space called social media came alive, feeding conventional media."

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Image: Prasoon Joshi.

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A new language of communication

One campaign that did well this year was Blackberry Boys.

Though meant to be an ad to announce Vodafone's initiative to provide Blackberry services to prepaid users, it actually turned out to be a piece of communication that showed the tactical shift that Blackberry was making - from institutional to retail.

Once the ultimate status symbol of the high-flying corporate executive, Blackberry switched to the larger and more price-sensitive retail segment this year by launching more affordable handsets.

At the same time, telcos such as Vodafone began offering Blackberry services to prepaid users - something that was available to postpaid users till then.

This was meant to improve penetration of Blackberry services. But how could this be communicated?

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Image: Blackberry phone.

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One way was to be direct about it - that Blackberry was available to prepaid users now. But Vodafone's creative agency Ogilvy & Mather came up with an interesting solution.

It devised a song that featured five 'office guys' who proudly asserted that they were the Blackberry Boys. Soon, youngsters in casual wear began joining the motley group singing the same tune.

Santosh Desai, CEO, Future Brands, says, "It's a brilliant piece of communication that speaks of the shift that Blackberry has made without being over-the-top about it. In the process, the intended message - of Blackberry services now available to prepaid users - is also delivered."

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Image: Blackberry 'office guys' campaign.

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Retro music in vogue

While the use of old Hindi songs in advertising is not a new phenomenon, there were quite a few examples of it in 2010. From Coke to Indian Railways to SBI Life Insurance, each one could be found using an old number or two for different reasons.

While SBI Life Insurance used the popular Hum Jab Honge Saat Saal Ke Aur Tum Hogi Pachpan Ki (from the 1971 film Kal Aaj Aur Kal) to convey a young couple's dreams for their life during old age, Indian Railways used the Ashok-Kumar-starrer Rail Gadi, Rail Gadi from the 1968 movie Aashirwad to portray the emotions and nostaglia attached to train journeys.

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Image: Indian Railways.

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The Coke commercials, on the other hand, had remixed versions of old Hindi songs in all the three ads that featured this year - the invisible bottle commercial with actors Kalki Koechlin and Imran Khan, the ad featuring Warli art released during Diwali and the recent shadow commercial with Khan again.

Joshi of McCann, whose agency is the creative agency for Coke, says the idea was to try out something different with remixed numbers.

Meanwhile Piyush Pandey, executive chairman & creative director, O&M, South Asia, whose agency devised the ads for SBI and Indian Railways, says, "An old number can help establish a connect easily, but it cannot be an end in itself. The creative idea has to drive the ad in the end."

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Image: Piyush Pandey.

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Small is big

Without doubt, this year belonged to small cars. Over five new cars were launched on Indian roads including the Volkswagen Polo, Nissan Micra, Ford Figo, Maruti Eeco, the Alto K10, and the new Wagon R.

In addition, a refurbished Skoda Fabia and Hyundai i10 were also launched this year. With a surfeit of small cars, advertisers had to do something different to stand out of the clutter.

Volkswagen was clearly the most innovative of the lot. It pulled out all the stops when advertising the Polo this year. Its work on print and outdoor stood out in particular.

This included cutouts of the Polo in the top panel of every page of the Times of India on February 23 - the launch day - with the car being revealed on the final page of the newspaper.

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Image: Volkswagen Polo.

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In outdoor, the actual car was revealed in the centre of giant billboards, catching the attention of people around.

This was done in some of the top metros including Mumbai. There were some more visual fireworks on display with heli-banners dotting the Mumbai skyline on the launch day.

Volkswagen's head of marketing and public relations, Lutz Kothe, says all of this aided top of mind recall for the brand. "We wanted to do something different. Innovation is at the core of our brand. So we thought why not attempt something unique. It creates surprise, generates word of mouth and gets us noticed."

But small car users have something more to look forward to in the New Year. Tata Motors has just released its first-ever TV campaign for the Nano. Targeted at small towns, the ad attempts to play up the safety of the Nano amid its falling sales.

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Image: Tata Nano TV campaign.

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Item girls are in

The Zandu-Munni spat this year has paved the way for a new form of brand association, of using the property rather than the celebrity itself.

Emami reaped reach dividends with the association of Zandu balm with hit item number Munni badnam hui from the movie Dabangg.

After some controversy, Emami used the song to promote its brand while the producers were reportedly compensated for its use in advertisements.

Predictably, Zandu sales zoomed thanks to its association with Munni prompting the FMCG major to seek out another alliance, of item song Sheila Ki Jawani (from the movie Tees Maar Khan) for Boroplus.

Meanwhile, to keep the Munni magic alive, Emami has roped in Malaika Arora Khan as its brand ambassador for Zandu for two years. The new TVCs featuring Khan will hit the tube soon.


Image: Emami has roped in Malaika Arora Khan as its brand ambassador.

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