On one side is advertising, the powerful persuasive, seductive marketing tool mandated to inform, educate, convince and sell products & services to a constituency spoilt for choices. On the other, Bollywood, the dream-merchants dedicated to the single-minded task of mesmerizing their audiences with glamour, romance and titillation-dripping stories, scripted to transport them to a never-never-land-of-happy-ever after! Team them up and they can be lethal! Sharpies, these market-driven bozos who never take their eyes off the ball, are doing the tango of their life, feeding off each other’s energies while raking in the loot. From Super-star Shahrukh Khan to actor Nawaz Siddiqui, Katrina Kaif to Alia Bhatt, its party time in Brandville!
In search of pushing the envelope further and exploring newer possibilities, the Ad-Bollywood combo has devised a new gimmick: create Ad jingles riding on old, popular Bollywood songs! Veteran Ad-man Bhushan Kumar was shocked to see “One such amazing brain-dead sample! I mean how low can an industry, which prides itself on being creative and innovative, stoop?” Mr. Kumar referred to the example of a recent TVC for Alpenliebe Creamfills, where a bald, French-bearded Boss in a frilly red dress, chases a startled executive with the song Yeh mera dil pyar ka deewana from Don. Kumar’s daughter joins the party adding the example of Ranbir Kapoor, all lit-up, belting Bachchan’s iconic Saara Zamanaa from Yaarana. Unlike her dad, she is not horrified, merely amused! Two automobile TVCs also va-va-vrroom into this space – Skoda Octavia (Pag Ghungroo from Namak Halal) and Chevrolet Beat (Jaane Jaan from Jawani Diwani). The latest is Bekarar Karke Hume Yoo Na Jaiye (from Bees Saal Baad). More Undoubtedly will follow.
Opinions – predictably – are hugely polarised about this new pitch. Delhi-based housewife Kiran Khanna finds them “Very entertaining and fun but discovers no real connect with the product advertised. I mean Pag Ghungroo and a hi-end Skoda with a kid and teddy bear?? Their Marketing and Ad executives may dish out whatever reasons for using the Bollywood songs, but from the viewers’ point of view, the link must be a really closely guarded secret!” Mumbai-based collegiate Arvind Desai too is totally foxed by the Bharti AXA Life Insurance TVC with Aap Yahan Aaye Kis Liye (from Jawani Diwani]) number blaring in the background. “They are crazy, if they believe Bollywood songs will in anyway work as a selling force. They will attract. People will see because they are drawn to the song. Period. How desperate and weird can these ad-wallahs get?”
Are these efforts, then, at winning customers and selling brands really as “Desperate and weird” as the kid says? Are brand managers, with deep pockets and ad agencies with (seemingly) deep knowledge about consumer-connect, striking the wrong note, playing the wrong tune and the wrong song to attract and excite the general public to notice their TVC & establish some kind of top-of-the-mind awareness and recall in a crazily cluttered market? Social commentator and CEO Future Brand, Santosh Desai believes that while this brand of communication will invite ridicule and bewilderment from many, there is obviously a method in the madness of the sponsors relating to this Bollywood-driven jingles. “Advertising is story-telling that combines familiarity with newness. In India, where both music and Bollywood is so powerful and all-pervasive, advertising would be foolish not to leverage it. Instead of creating a new jingle, why not a popular song? It's bound to appeal.” Agrees filmmaker Ishani Dutta, “It immediately grabs the first two alphabets of the iconic AIDA – Attention & Interest – leading to the other two, Desire & Action. Isn’t that half the battle won? In a parity space, the biggest challenge is: how to seize full-on, concentrated attention for 40 seconds, right? Having done that, unleash your USP, but without that no matter how hot your brand is, you are dead!” Leo Burnett’s National Creative Director Pops KV Sridhar winds up the debate, in style, saying: “There is no good or bad. It is totally about contextual connect, with a sense of responsibility.” He recalled the case of a Britannia cheese TVC which used the popular 90’s chartbuster Tu cheez badi hai mast mast from Mohra. “Kids consume cheese in quantities and mothers are the target groups to whom the song may not sound quite appropriate. Not suitable.”
So while Budmateez Dil may rock, when factored into a TVC – Handle with (tameez) care!