Aurora Magazine

Promoting excellence in advertising

All glitter, no gold

Published in Nov-Dec 2012

Sarah Moquim picks five best ad campaigns.

A wedding, a song and dance sequence, forced laughter to give the impression of living a good life, the birth of a child. Clichéd slice of life scenes entrenched deeply in our creative subconscious, make for formula driven executions. But they will probably never make up for the lack of concept or structure, larger than life canvases painted with the same imagery that any brand can own. It’s a formula that reeks of staleness.

I can think of a million ads that don’t work because of all this and another million that do using the same elements. Compelling writing being the prime difference between things that matter and those that don’t. Stories told around the premise of a wedding or childbirth but still driving the point home. Sadly, that cannot be said of the cases in point.

The other dilemma being that all of us who work in this profession contribute to these unique levels of mediocrity and the state and standard of the work that is churned out, no matter how much you diss or disown the ads that are made, we must face the blame equally.

BRAND: National Foods

Campaign: Rung bhartee jao

Message: Rung bhartee jao.

Effectiveness: Throw in poetry and a familiar voice; in other words Tina Sani at her awful worst, building on Iqbal’s philosophy of women adding colour to the universe. Although it makes sense at some level, one yearns for a linear storyline that tugs at the heartstrings, instead of imagery that is rich, colourful and nothing more. Given the kind of resources and talent the campaign has used, a solid, meaningful and memorable story would have done the trick. It ticks all the boxes of what a typical high budget Pakistani ad will have, yet it has nothing to take it head and shoulders above the rest.

Verdict: All form, no substance.

BRAND: Lipton

Campaign: My sip of inspiration

Message: My sip of inspiration.

Effectiveness: Well, as I can’t sing/think/act, I will drink Lipton and my problem will be fixed. The same problem solving idea worked well with the Lipton Mission Impossible ad (launched by Unilever and DDB internationally in 2010). However, when adapted locally, the TVC is so bland and general that the message could apply to any and every brand: can’t manage to compose a song, will drink Lipton and end up writing like a pro. Can’t talk to a girl, will use the shampoo/toothpaste, will become suave. Also, what is smart about picking a duo which has strong associations with another brand’s globally popular TV show [Coke Studio]? Why does Meesha Shafi wear that much make-up and why has Arif Lohar been captured from such unflattering angles so that he takes up most of the screen space.

Verdict: Odd pairing, old wine, old bottle and no believability.

BRAND: Mobilink

Campaign: Corporate campaign

Message: Pakistan’s number one network.

Effectiveness: It is one thing to be big and quite another to act big. Sadly, all you find here is pretence. Big star, big words, big claim and a rather lame commercial. Why are we not writing better ads? Good writing is the difference between worth watching and a hit-and-miss. Ali Zafar should reconsider his choice of endorsements; he has been abused in a purple suit. Seriously. Real life testimonials might have been more believable than stereotyping people from all over Pakistan. We must learn from how Clint Eastwood has been used for Chrysler or Amitabh Bachan was used for The Times of India or Aman ki asha for that matter; they were also trying to make a point but we should understand how they did it.

Verdict: It does not do anything and probably doesn’t aim to either. Except tooting the brand’s own pompous horn.

BRAND: Pepsi

Campaign: Made for cricket

Message: Made for cricket.

Effectiveness: Pepsi’s T20 campaign had eyeballs following it and for the right reasons. The idea is fresh and entertaining (in the Pepsi scheme of things), but the execution remains amateurish. All the favourites – Afridi, Ajmal and Gul – trying to play a sport other than cricket and doing miserably. But then with the offer of a Pepsi and the suggestion of cricket, they turn into the cricket legends they have become. However one fails to understand why they were dressed in 70s style clothing while attempting to play their ‘other sport’. The creative idea with the media spend will make it the centre of attention.

Verdict: Was expecting a sequel to the cast-away film, this also does the trick.

BRAND: Lay’s

Campaign: Launch of Lay’s Wavy

Message: Maza bolay aap ki zubaan.

Effectiveness: Can’t begin to elaborate on the vagueness of the concept and the proposition. It is like having nothing to communicate; not having one single-minded message to establish about the product, yet still having the resources to do something.

A more thought out, objective driven, hard hitting idea is expected from Lay’s, instead of making just another ad to revive the Ali Zafar Lay’s-Pepsi association. Here is a celebrity, he will eat the product and say a line and maybe throw in a bit of acting too with a foreign looking girl. A telecom company has used the same idea already and that too in an entertaining way.

Verdict: Nothing to remember it by.