An off-topic topical from Amul, creative ads from Hummer, Aviation Gin and more

An ad does not fight for attention from just other ads. It has to stand out from the clutter of news and various forms of entertainment and ‘distractions’ which demand our attention. So when an ad does get noticed it is commendable. But effective ads go beyond just being noticed and be relevant. In doing so they meet a business objective of the brand – be it creating awareness, building affinity, changing perceptions or affecting a behaviour. Here’s a round up of recent ads and views on some developments in the industry:

Amul topical: not every news warrants a topical

A rare mis-step from the agency which has a great track record of creating wonderful topicals for decades. Amul topicals have been around for decades now, starting off as billboards placed strategically in key outdoor sites in a city. A premium location was almost permanently taken on rent and the Amul girl would feature in a quip about the topical news of the day, usually with a heavy dose of word play. Such billboards used to be changed once a fortnight as those were not the days of scrolling through a timeline for breaking news every few seconds. The remarkable aspect is that the agency, da Cunha Associates, has the freedom to choose a topic and execute the creatives without seeking an approval from the client. In other words, the client ‘discovers’ the brand hoarding along with the general public. In today’s world such creatives appear on social media and change as often as required – usually once a week. The brand plays a subtle role in the creatives and when appreciated by the public and amplified by mainstream media it adds to the aura around the brand.

Many brands have attempted to replicate this strategy of creatives anchored around the news of the day. Most of these are one-off activities or one among many. But the space of the ‘topical’ is owned by Amul. The rise of social media and a 24×7 news cycle has given rise to ‘moment marketing‘ – a phenomenon made popular by a single tweet of Oreo during the Super Bowl in 2013. Essentially it is either hijacking or riding piggyback on a news which has caught public attention. There is also an obsession to be ‘always on‘ among brands which then leads to a mindset of ‘finding some reason or occasion to create a social media post’. A majority of such posts have a tenuous link to the advertised brand and the ‘link’ seems like a force fit.

Amul has managed to buckle the trends churning out creatives which have an instant connect to the context, the brand and manage to bring smile. But then every situation or news event does not warrant a topical. The effects of the ongoing war in Ukraine are horrific with loss of lives and suffering to many, including women & children. It is a serious issue and hence the usual word play or pun seems out of place and trivialising war.

BT: ‘acts, not ads’

During the COVID-19 pandemic we saw several brands put out communication expressing support towards those suffering or making a plea to follow safety norms such as maintaining social distancing or wearing a mask in public.

Some might call such communication as tokenism – but if there is a brand fit (relevance, credibility, authority) even such ads can be effective. But going beyond mere ‘messages’, doing something on the ground especially on the product or service front is truly commendable. BT’s latest with regard to the war in Ukraine is one such act.

Aviation Gin: miracle on ice

Ryan Reynolds is an advertising genius. His (and his team’s) ability and consistency to craft the right communication strategy, create entertaining ads with a strong product message is commendable. Here’s the latest for Aviation Gin, linked to ‘Miracle on Ice’ an ice hockey game during the 1980 Winter Olympics in Lake Placid, New York. Watch the ad to see the brand connect and enjoy the humour. I love it when brands don’t take themselves too seriously to convey a product message – I think it makes them more endearing to consumers.

Agency: Maximum Effort

La Vosgienne: naturally flavoured

Remember the classic ad for John West – where a man fights a bear to get the best salmon? It was a wonderful demonstration of ‘going to great lengths’ to get the very best ingredients – works very well for food brands. Think of this campaign for La Vosgienne confectionary as the opposite of that intensity. Laced with humour it portrays the perils of ‘the great outdoors’ and that they are best enjoyed at home through a candy.

Agency: Ogilvy

Mini: execution is everything

In ads where the computer graphics make all the difference in terms of grabbing attention and riveting the viewer, the traditional storyboards are not of much use. A new for MINI Editions has so much eye-popping stuff packed in every gorgeously crafted frame that you can’t take your eyes of =f the screen,=.

Agency: MediaMonks




HP Presence: crushed idea

As a viewer, you can guess the denouement within the first few seconds of the ad. Yet, it is watchable film for HP Presence – conference room solutions.

Agency: W+K

GMC Hummer EV: CrabWalk

The foot thumbing and head-nodding ‘Get Ur Freak On’ by Blah Missy Elliot is a great fit as a jingle for Hummer’s new EV which can drive diagonally. I guess the script wrote itself out with a variant name like ‘Crabwalk’.

Agency: Leo Burnett

Which one was your favourite? Do share your views.

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