News Column

Joy on AIR [Financial Express (India)]

October 29, 2013


It's that time of the year. When you've got to navigate carefully through the newspaper to find some real news. When the weight of the paper is greater than the gravity of the content. When political reports and local news are going at 40% off-as ads and editorial jostle and fuse for more space. Welcome to the festive season. Where offers and deals leap out of every corner and intrusive leaflets and sly printouts spill out of every page! Most of these ads are junk, not worth the paper they are printed on. There's also the excited festive cacophony on television-where thankfully there's a healthy balance of advertising and programming. But we are here to talk about the good things. The occasional festival based ads that are worth talking about. Television spots that do justice to the spirit and mood of the festive times. Brands that make the season a little more special, a little more personal with a lot more warmth and cheer. So let's examine some of the work that we've seen on air. These are the five of the past festive spots that come to mind. Am sure there are other well-meaning ones that are on air now. But these I remember easily. Almost all of them are about gifting. But each told differently in a very insightful way. All of them are short stories. Stories that sound real, not manufactured. And you take away a little something that you can use in your life.

The other thing that's great about these gems is that they fight the gloom of the economic slowdown. They are not influenced by the depressive news that this year ad spends during the festive season will be down by 50%. They rise above the sharp depreciation of the rupee. They are blind to survey announcements that the automobile and consumer durables players are slashing their ad expenditure by over 65% this Diwali. What these ads actually do is create an alternate currency that only gets stronger. A currency called giving, sharing, loving and caring. A currency that thankfully is not controlled by the Reserve Bank, World Bank or international economic and financial bodies. The only stocks here are emotional shares, and that can only trade up, not down.

SBI Life

Valentine's Day

One of the best festival ads I've seen on Indian television is not a festival ad. It is actually the bank insurance ad-for SBI Life. It's where an old man gifts his elderly wife a diamond on Valentine's Day. She thinks he is crazy and tells him that she is too old for these kind of things. The final line: "arrey... heere ko kya pata teri umar" (The diamond doesn't know your age!) is unforgettable. Brilliant insight, amazing script and execution. The best of the best!


Toh iss diwali aap kise khush karenge

In this charming film, a young female executive is taken aback by the rude and obnoxious behaviour of her boss on the eve of Diwali only to realise that actually he is a nice guy after all. The Cadbury Celebrations pack hidden in her drawer is a sweet gesture on his part to make her feel more welcome and part of the team. It's a complex but powerful script that's sensitively handled with emotional nuances that make you want to see the film again and again.


Diwali gift

The film is about a young married couple getting ready to go for a Diwali party. The young man asks his wife to gift-wrap a Tanishq jewellery set which he says he needs to deliver for a friend. His friend has already paid for it. His wife is glad that they are not spending on such expensive gifts. Deep inside you can see that she wishes she had it too. There's some back and forth banter between them before she realises that the jewellery set is actually meant for her. What a nice surprise in the end!

I love the ad. It has magic. There's something in the emotional tension and playful dialogues that makes it sticky. The drama grips you. The jewellery is integral to the story. It's a charming slice of life that tells you a little more about the festival. The authentic characters make you see yourself in the situation. You connect.


Festive campaign

A young man is not sure if he should be celebrating Diwali because he is a Muslim. He sees a beautiful watch at one of the showroom windows and is undecided because of the price. But the shopkeeper's warmth and the generous offer --50% discount on Diwali -makes him pick up the watch as a Diwali gift for his wife who is so thrilled to know about it. It's a fresh take on the festive season. "It's a good idea to celebrate all the Indian festivals" says the brand. For Christmas we see a Sikh gentleman dressed as Santa Claus. And for Holi (which is so North Indian) the film shows a South Indian celebrating the festival. It's so uplifting to see big brands use the platform of festivals to promote national integration.


Khushiyaan baantne se hi badhti hain

It's Diwali and a group

of friends set out to brighten up spaces that are most dear to them. They spread happiness by lighting diyas in spots and settings where they've had beautiful memories -places like their classroom, in front of the girl's hostel, altercations with watchmen, canteen table and moments which they still cherish. The soulful background score adds to the positivity and celebratory spirit. The film shows us how happiness becomes bigger when you extend it to others, and how it lights up everything around you.

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