TV Ads: The sublime and the ridiculous

There have been legendary ads in Indian television history. The Bajaj ad for ‘Chunnu Munnu de pappa di gaddi’ was inspired. There was also one for a super-strength (hat-tip to Jerry Seinfeld for this particular phrase!) pain relieving gel (Zandu Balm, it was, I think) that is supposedly powerful enough to relieve the headache of Ravana and his ten heads. (The actor in the film was one of the heads, which meant that the frail Ravana really looked like he might topple. Perhaps this bit was unintentional).

Contrast this creativity with what gets aired today. A hopelessly stone-faced Yuvraj endorsing a multivitamin pill, for example. He can’t even say  ‘Jiyo jee bhar ke’ without shouting.

And it’s not always the fault of celebrities who can’t act to save their lives. Take this ad, for example. A remarkably silly premise stretched into a minute-long ad, I had to watch this damn ad three times before I understood what the heck the makers were trying to say.

Did you get that? [With any other cable service, you might have thought Saif Ali Khan was faithful to his partner, but with our high-def cable, you’ll know that he was just being watchful while hitting on other women]. The two scenarios are played one after the other, and if you blink when the changeover’s happening, you’ll miss the solitary frame that says ‘The Beach in HD’, and ask yourself why the heck the stupid ad is being aired a second time. The product isn’t even mentioned until the last 3 seconds in a 50 second ad.

I’d like to know how much the PR firm that made this ad got paid for it, and if I can get some of the moolah for not doing anything… you know, I’ll be making Airtel more money by sitting at home and not sabotaging their marketing with such tripe.

It’s not all ridiculous, though. Here’s some sublime wit, something to cheer you up for the next two hours:

After explaining to his visitors the features and achievements of Juno, the inter-planetary exploratory vehicle, the scientist, who has to remind one of the visitors not to click photographs (this bit is genius!), points out that Juno will make it all the way to Jupiter in only one year. Without missing a heartbeat, an Indian in the crowd asks the scientist ‘kitna deti hai?’. The ad then goes on to say that Maruti makes the most fuel-efficient cars in economy-obsessed India.


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