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A slowdown makes everybody demand more bang for the buck. Stuck with smaller budgets, companies demanded better campaigns from agencies in 2009. And the agencies rose to the occasion. From lateral thinking to innovative execution of ads and meaningful insights, campaigns this year were a cut above the rest. Choosing the best five was anything but easy.
Client: Fiat India
Agency: Bates 141
Creative head: Sonal Dabral
Filmmaker: Prasoon Pandey, Corcoise Films
The launch ad for the Linea by Fiat India in January had all the trappings of a well-executed commercial: Perfect location, casting and beautiful score by Shankar, Ehsaan and Loy. That Prasoon Pandey understands his craft shows in the camaraderie between the father and son in the commercial.
The ad shows the father and son walking down a quaint, cobbled street. The father finds it difficult tearing his son's gaze away from the toys displayed in a store. Impatient to carry on, he tugs at the little boy who comes along grudgingly. A few steps ahead, it's the son's turn to find the father gazing intently at something. The son soon discovers it is the new Linea that has mesmerised his father, as the accompanying song reaches its crescendo...but I'm stuck at the sight of you.
This was the perfect launch pad for the vehicle. Bates 141 Group Chief Executive Officer (India) Sandeep Pathak says that the "Stuck at the sight of you" jingle has become the ring-back tune of most employees in Fiat. "The brief was to give a uniquely communicable spin to the looks of the car. What is the first thing that people do when confronted with a new car? They tend to soak in every detail, remember as much of the car as possible etc. What better way than to show a man besotted with the Linea the first time he comes across it," says Pathak.
The ad managed to besot its target audience as well. According to company estimates, the Linea achieved a market share of 15.5 per cent in the C segment within the first quarter of its launch, with an awareness of 77 per cent. Hits to the official Linea website increased from 0.13 million to 3.16 million the day the commercial went on air, touching a total of 90 million hits in the next 15 days. Click NEXT to read further...
Agency: Ogilvy & Mather
Creative head: Rajiv Rao
Filmmaker: Prakash Varma, Nirvana Films
So successful were the Zoozoos that Ogilvy & Mather is now working on the brief to take these characters abroad. Vodafone is keen to export them to a few of its elite markets overseas. "It all started with the second season of the Indian Premier League (IPL) in April this year," says O&M National Creative Director Rajiv Rao.
"Typically, there is a flurry of advertisements around the IPL matches. It's tough to stand out in the crowd. You need to have something that is clutter-busting. That's when we stumbled upon the idea of doing something that is like animation but is not animation. It sounds weird, but it's true."
To keep the novelty alive, the agency did a film a day. The task of executing all of this was left to Prakash Varma of Nirvana Films.
From giving an animation-like look to the sets, props etc to casting theatre artistes from South Africa and putting them through the paces to get the right performance, Varma and his team meticulously created the Zoozoo world.
The toughest challenge, say Varma and Rao, was to extract the "animation-like performance" from the artistes who could hardly see what they were doing on account of their awkward costumes. "It was tough. But we learnt along the way," says Rao.
"There's one film, for instance, where a Zoozoo is carried on a stretcher by four others. During the shooting of the film, those carrying the stretcher went in opposite directions. It was hilarious. We carried that shot as it was."
Client: Birla Sun Life Insurance
Creative head: Pradyumna Chauhan & Shweta Iyer
Filmmaker: Nikhil Rao, Chrome Pictures
Over the years, insurance advertising has come into its own. And 2009 was no exception, with some notable work coming out of the category. This commercial from Birla Sun Life Insurance using celebrities is a case in point.
What's striking about this commercial is how cricketers are projected as ordinary human beings complete with fears and insecurities. "It's tricky using cricketers in insurance advertising. You can make do with the regular endorsements or try and do something unique with them. We chose the latter," says JWT Senior Creative Director Pradyumna Chauhan.
Filmed in documentary style using multiple cameras, the ad shows Virendra Sehwag and Yuvraj Singh stating the highs and lows of their careers. The two men appear candid, especially Sehwag who makes his fears visible on screen. The punchline - Jab Tak Balla Chalta hain, thaat chalte hain, jis din yeh rukh gaya tab...- drives home the point neatly.
"The idea was to leverage the short shelf life of a cricketer. It's glamorous when at its peak and difficult when low," adds JWT Senior Creative Director Shweta Iyer who was a partner in the campaign. "This short shelf life in a sense was the premise on which Birla Sun Life's wealth plan was presented. It worked well. Everybody has his ups and downs including celebrities; therefore, you need to plan for the future. That was the message."
Client: Tata Tea
Agency: Lowe Lintas
Creative head: R Balakrishnan
Filmmaker: Amit Sharma, Chrome Pictures
The 2009 General Elections were a watershed. Seldom has there been so much initiative to get people out and register to vote. The lead was taken by the Jaago Re campaign of Tata Tea. It had actually begun life in 2007 by taking on politicians. In 2008, the theme was voting which continued in the first half of 2009.
Now the focus is on corruption. Social advertising is a plank that many brands have used to communicate the message that they care. But few have managed to do real innovation with these campaigns.
Lowe Lintas seems to have struck the right chord with Jaago Re. Not only is the term Jaago Re synonymous with waking up and getting refreshed with a cup of tea, there's a subtle message attached to it - awaken.
The voting theme had all the elements the company wanted: A contemporary social message targeted at the youth. Says Lowe Lintas Executive Director Tarun Chauhan: "Despite us being a tea-drinking nation, coffee appears cool because of the cafe culture that prevails today. Our brief was to make the brand look contemporary and cutting edge thereby attracting the youth in particular."
The challenge for both the company and the agency is to retain this creative spark. According to Tata Tea Executive Director (marketing) Sangeeta Talwar, there will be two more films in 2010. "It's a wonderful campaign, but we'll need to keep evaluating it every six months," she says.
Client: Idea Cellular
Agency: Lowe Lintas
Creative head: R. Balakrishnan, Ashwin Varkey & Jaywant Dabholkar
Filmmaker: Amit Sharma, Chrome Pictures
Nowhere is the clutter worse than telecom. In July this year, Idea Cellular launched the popular "walking and talking" campaign with brand ambassador Abhishek Bachchan to break the clutter. Bachchan was shown as a harried doctor who advocates a simple mantra to those wanting to stay fit - just walk when you talk. This message spreads like wild fire eventually ending up in the doctor loosing his business.
The fifth in the "What an Idea, Sirji" series, Walk When You Talk in a sense has put all the other ads in the campaign behind in terms of popular appeal "The idea," says Lowe Lintas Creative Director Ashwin Varkey, "was to set up a problem and provide a solution at the same time."
The jingle "bol-chal, bol-chal, bol-chal, bol-chal, bol-chal, bol-chal, bol" also played its part in making the ad appealing. Advertising pundits agree that the rhyming words walk, talk, bol and chal add to the quirkiness of the campaign.
In a market, which is choc-a-bloc with service providers blaring out messages day in and day out, Idea Cellular had to do something different. Varkey admits, "It has helped the brand cut through the clutter.