Friday, September 26, 2008


As the media clutter becomes deafening, the sure-shot way to make your message reach the ears of consumers is to ride on current events and hip happenings!

Oh God… Oh God… please, please let Sachin play well this time. I hope India reaches the super six. Shall we make it to the finals? An example of some of the prayers heard all over the country when India goes to play the world. The best part is that the same prayers are heard in many boardrooms, advertising agencies and television studios as well! It’s the biggest and the greatest spectacle of the year. The heartbeat of the whole country seems to be in the hands of these eleven players. These are the demigods and the whole country looks up to them. The match is not just a game, it’s a fight and they better win! A victory is adulated, but a defeat brings so much wrath, it is actually scary. Cricket is the only thing that unites India like nothing else. North, South, East or West, go to any part of the country and you’ll find the same passion and similar devotion to the game. If it’s cricket time, the country’s heart beats together and bleeds together. This is our way of showing the world our best face. It’s our pride. Each victory is like a personal achievement. This is that time of the year when ad rates go skyrocketing and media planners go in a frenzy deciding where, when and how many times to show their commercials. This is also that time of the year when the quantity of “cricket-related” advertisements sees an upsurge with each one being more entertaining and better than the next. Some ads are, in fact, so good that you remember them long after the matches are over and forgotten.

No one can forget the Cadbury ad. The young beautiful girl and the nervousness in her eyes. The last ball of the game. It could be the winning shot or it could spell disaster. A crucial moment in the game – something we all love. The thrills, the chill, the anxiety of will he or won’t he, all portrayed so well in those few seconds. The girl nibbles on her Cadbury Dairy Milk. The bowler bowls his best ball… and the cricketer strikes it. The ball soars towards the sky and yes… it is a six! The girl runs over the ground, dodging the security, breaks into a lively jive, celebrating the moment doing something we all feel like doing when India wins a crucial match (especially against Pakistan!).

Kuch baat toh hai cricket mein!

Yes, there’s something special about cricket in India and advertisers know that this time “cricket-themed” ads will work best. Events affect the advertiser and their advertising strategy. In fact, an intelligent adman uses events to make his advertisements more interesting and eye catching and hence more memorable. The advertisements which reflect the mood of the society are more interesting. When India completed its 50th year of Independence in 1997, the whole country was in a celebration mood. Advertisers too hopped on to the bandwagon and dressed up their ads to meet the occasion.

Towards the end of 1999, the world was in a state of confusion. No one knew how the Y2K problems would affect them. Advertisers used this opportunity to warn, inform or entertain the customers, with many innovative and interesting advertisements.

If your punch line matches the spirit of the event, then it makes a good advertisement. Look at what Max New York Life did. The punch line is, ‘Your partner for life’; and what better way to think of your life and your partner than ‘Karwa Chauth’. It asked the man to insure his life for a wife who would be praying for him the whole day. The ad said:
‘She will spend the day thinking about your life. Spend a few minutes thinking about hers...’

The first to speak

Be it any event, any happening, any burning issue, one company that has never failed to give its version, tongue-in-cheek is Amul. It’s one company whose advertisements have always been “utterly-butterly topical”. Amul has had a say in every event of any importance. Its hoardings are so popular that people wait eagerly for the next change. Over the years, a lot of people have written Amul ads, but it’s the sheer consistency that has made them so successful. So the eighties saw some very interesting headlines like: Monica-Lewd-insky or Kabhi Butter Kabhi bun… it’s all about loving your butter. Each ad has been daring, different, interesting and always lovable (thanks to the ‘in tune with the times’ approach).

Slipstreaming: the new way

Slipstreaming, by definition, means a vacuum of air created behind a fast moving vehicle. When a speeding car zips past, the bystander feels a powerful wall of air that can almost blow one over. Motor racers know the moment you get too close to this force, there will be little wind resistance, so you get “sucked” along by the slipstream.

According to Max Sutherland, the author of the book ‘Advertising and the Mind of the Consumer’, one can use the “slipstream” phenomena in advertising also. So advertisers tend to keep a lookout for top news stories – essentially those stories that get a lot of publicity and are clearly the most talked about and sometimes even gossiped about. Then, if one reworks their brand slogan in such a way that it gets linked to the top story, the consumer is bound to notice it and give it more attention over and above the regular advertising clutter.

One company that has been doing this kind of slipstream advertising is Energizer batteries. It has used its slogan, “Are you power mad,” to fit various topical stories and news headlines. In 2003, when the Chelsea Football club was buying soccer players left, right and centre, Energizer used the story to popularise its slogan – “Are you power mad?” Next, when there was a power struggle between Gordon Brown and Tony Blair for the hotseat at 10 Downing Street, Energizer featured a cartoon showing Gordon Brown changing the number of his house on Downing Street to “10” and the caption “Are you power mad?” fitted just perfectly!

Another clutter-beater

Using topical themes, or working on witty one-liners that link your brand to an event or story in news always helps. It is like a shot in the arm – especially for a brand that needs to advertise regularly, but has nothing new to tell consumers. This is the easiest, cheapest, quickest way to beat competition and the media clutter – allowing the brand to draw the attention of the consumer completely.

So before you plan your next advertising blitz, pick up the newspaper for a few new ideas. Rest assured, they will charge up your marketing plans – for being topical is the best way to generate maximum impact, and that too at no extra cost.

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