When I went into advertising, I was told that the key to a successful ad is its entertainment value. No one wants to look at ads. However, if they are interesting (entertaining), it changes the game. Two traits that can make a commercial powerful, create recall for years and even decades are humour and emotion. If an ad comes across as tongue-in-cheek, people want to share it with family and friends. If an ad can make a grown man like myself swallow a knot in his throat, it is an ad worth talking about. On the flipside, some ads leave you with a bad taste in the mouth. Let’s see what we have on our plate.
BRAND: Peek Freans – Cake Up
Agency: Ogilvy India and Pakistan
Campaign: Real Goodness Inside
Message: Real rishtay.
Effectiveness: There are very few TVCs today that make you smile and teary-eyed at the same time. This TVC is a beautifully crafted story of a mother and her child that plays on one’s heart strings. The acting is among the best I have seen on Pakistani television (modern Pakistani dramas, please take a hint). The sparse gestures (the flick in the mother’s eyes when she notices her son is hiding something) demonstrate that you don’t need to exaggerate everything in an ad. Speaking about exaggeration, you have to give it to the creative who came up with the idea of integrating the product at regular intervals in the story so beautifully (clever inspiration from the film The Lunch Box). The background score is amazing, giving a boost to an already emotional story. Such a relief from all the song and dance confectionary ads usually go for.
Verdict: Oh... the feels on this one. Exceptional.
Agency: IAL Saatchi & Saatchi
Campaign: Pepsi | Cricket | Music
Message: The choice of every generation.
Effectiveness: Yes, I will say it openly and blatantly: the following review will NOT be unbiased. How can it be?! It took me back to my childhood – the time when I started exploring and enjoying music. What a perfect way to showcase Pepsi through the generations. I could relate to each and every generation. I literally watched myself grow from a child to a teenager to an adult. Tell me please, how many ads have the power to do that! Such positive vibes; such nostalgia. Happier, simpler times. And Pepsi at the centre of it all. Watching this ad made me think of the new generation. How relatable is it for them? Then, I saw the true potential of this ad. A twenty-something will be introduced to the amazing music of the 80s and 90s. Such is the power of this amazing ad.
Verdict: Bitten by nostalgia. No cure in sight.
Agency: Ogilvy Pakistan
Campaign: Thematic Anthem
Message: Maza har lamhay ka.
Effectiveness: ‘Wince’ was my reaction when I first saw this ad. A stark contrast to the earlier review. The problem is with the expectation. For a brand like Coca-Cola, expectations go through the roof. And when the brand comes up with an anthem that reminds you of Bhooka Brigade (please YouTube it), you know there is something wrong. If it was a low-tier brand, I am sure people, including myself, would not have had such a strong reaction. The storyline is weak and the acting weaker. The ad lacks a big idea, which is why it did not make too much sense. Relying on a celebrity to carry your brand forward can only get you so far. And that too not anymore – with every other ad having one celebrity or the other. Overall, yes... (wince).
Verdict: Remembering happier times.
Campaign: Promo For Junoon Concert
Message: Sooper hai Pakistan ka Junoon. Effectiveness: A well-executed idea, but it could have been better. Why? YouTube Rockin 1000 and you will know where the idea came from and how grand it could have been. The first time I saw Smells Like Teen Spirit performed in a stadium full of musicians, I was awestruck. It gave me goose bumps. I know that factors like budget, timeline, direction and production play a big role in making a film great or mediocre. But I found the execution lacking. Apologies if I keep referring to Rockin 1000. In those performances, you see the passion and energy the musicians bring to their favourite icons. Something a rock fan like me can relate to. In this ad, I don’t feel that. This is Junoon we are talking about people. Junoon! The rock-gods of Pakistan! Sadly, all I see is a bunch of good looking models trying to ‘look’ passionate. Moreover, the epic feeling that I can’t stop talking about is lost. No grand drone shots, no crazy slow mos, no classy close-ups. An opportunity lost.
Verdict: Watered down and pheeka.
BRAND: Bank Alfalah
Agency: Ogilvy Pakistan
Campaign: Current Account
Message: Power to do more.
Effectiveness: All this writing has made me hungry; hungry for a more original, believable, insightful idea. Here, I found a bit that satisfied my craving. The insight was strong; people, especially older people, find it hard to move away from what they trust and think that everything else is a scam. Of course, a cliché has to come in somewhere; a father gently reprimands his son for missing a payment and the son shoots back a reply. If only the conversation was more conversational and less of a pitch. Overall, an okay ad. Drove the message home and the slight humour was welcome.
Verdict: New look, same ‘great’ taste.
Majid Khan is Associate Creative Director, Manhattan International. firstname.lastname@example.org