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Five Heartening Campaigns of 2013

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Smitha Sarma Ranganathan, Professor, Marketing Management, IBS Business School, Bangalore
Smitha Sarma Ranganathan, Professor, Marketing Management, IBS Business School, Bangalore

Smitha Sarma Ranganathan, Professor, Marketing Management, IBS Business School, Bangalore

2013 has been a year of Heart warming narratives & Hearty executions
Few brands spoke of functional benefits in 2013, and the most popular campaigns proved to be those with heavy emotional overtones. Detailed below is a close look at five best ad campaigns of 2013 that may not be easily forgotten in a long time to come.

When reaching Five-years to a Grand sustainable finale!
A welcome break from the ambushing strategy between germ-killer soap brands, Lifebuoy’s ‘help a child reach 5’ campaign has been the talk of the town since its first digital impression. The storyline of this campaign brilliantly captures Gondappa’s painstaking journey to a hillock temple travelling the entire distance in an inverted posture, using his hands instead of his feet. The father’s thanksgiving uphill journey punctuated by hope and perseverance gets more believable in the creative rendition of the film. The opening film shot depicting Gondappa’s hand impressions on a muddy road leading to a slushy path in his neighbourhood establishes the rural premise of the narrative. From there on, his path through field bunds accompanied by most of his community folks some with musical ensembles drives home the point of celebration and support of a milestone achieved! Gondappa’s sensitivity to not even harm an ant that crosses his path, the sprinkling of water by a woman to cleanse and soften his course ahead are endearing markers of attention to detail. The introduction of a curious young lady stopping by to understand the context of the ritual was perhaps the smartest way to get the urban viewers relate to the storyline. The surprise expressed by the young lady about the big deal of turning five to the strikingly contrasting expression when explained by a village elder that this was the first time any of Gondappa’s children turned five touches many a heart. A silent tear shed by the boy’s mother, the humble prostration by Gondappa, the well-scripted Tamil lyrics that runs in the background effectively portrays how revered reaching five years was in a community plagued with infant mortality. Social responsibility garnished with brand promise makes this campaign a hard one to forget and provides a setting for Project Sunlight – A sustainability initiative by HUL! We wait with bated breath to bask in the glory of this visionary project.

A Second look at matrimony!
The great Indian on-screen wedding synonymous with unapologetic opulence is guilty of diluting the meaning of matrimony amidst flashy visuals and noisy chatter. Tanishq’s wedding collection ad offers a fresh whiff of life to the stifled expression of unison in marriage, more specifically a woman’s remarriage – considered a societal taboo until recently. From the word go, the dusky confident bride is a stark departure from the fair skinned-shy bride often depicted in wedding sequences. The well-crafted story setting include the sober yet tastefully chosen trousseau, hand-picked group of well-wishers and an effervescent little girl. The narrative strings together a range of emotions – the bride’s bonding with the little girl before the nuptial ceremony, the bride striding in grace with the little girl hand in hand, the little girl referring to the bride as mama asking to included in the wedding rituals, the bride’s attempt to hush the request and the palpable discomfort – all a sensitive portrayal of reality. What steals the show is the bride groom’s perceptive response of the little girl’s disappointment and seemingly effortless inclusion of the child into their fold. The bride’s awe of her man’s gesture and the reassuring smile she breaks into form the climax of the sensitively told tale of a wedding to remember!

Boys at Heart, Gentle as Men!
Marrying opposites often works, at least when it comes to communicating brand promises. How else do you explain financial brands using emotional storylines to connect with their audience. Par bandhe ache hain is one such campaign that stays with you, thanks to its simple relatable contexts and endearing men as protagonists. The lazy-hubby who leaves the towel on the floor, while minding the wife’s head, the forgetful -hubby who depends on his wife to fetch his wallet while ensuring she safely returns to the apartment; the sleepy-father still keeping tab on his son in a train station; the shielding-dad trying to hide the slushy footprints from his daughter’s headmistress surely do bring a smile on your face! ICICI prudential continues to make our men feel great as careless boys yet caring protectors!

Retreading the threads of India-Pak bonding
We love indulging in nostalgia, particularly in camaraderie with pals from Pakistan. Despite being a politically sensitive subject of diplomatic discussions, India-Pak continues to tickle the bud of many a brand story. We have had two unrelated brands pursue this trail this year. Coca Cola with the ‘small-world machines’ campaign extended its established proposition of moments of happiness by providing a platform for uniting two closely connected yet now distant neighbours. The vending machine allows both Indian and Pakistan counterparts to bond by indulging in a common task and seal the connect with a can of Coke. Notwithstanding sceptics’ view of over-simplifying diplomatic contexts, the vision of a brand that sells colas to establish and celebrate bonds in simple ways between neighbours who once shared a common geographical compound is phenomenal.

Google with its surprisingly refreshing take to humanize technology focuses on the reunion between childhood pals Baldev from India and Yusuf, a Pakistan resident. The signature offerings of Google with respect to – geography-related results, regional dictionary, visa regulations, weather forecast, real-time flight updates, feature in the emotional storyline. Most of the 3 plus minute narrative seamlessly integrates usability of Google into the storyline so very well that one hardly notices them as ‘features’. The concluding shot of the two friends enjoying the rain subtly reinforces the accuracy and relevancy of the Google search results. This campaign is indeed nostalgia revisited, facilitated by family, enabled by Google! Unarguably wins our hearts and minds hands down!

About the author / 

Smitha Sarma Ranganathan

Professor, IBS Bangalore

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