Thursday, December 31, 2009

The Contra entry - Part I

Contra entry: -
In the journal entries, some of the entries are reflected in more than 2 related ledgers are called the contra entry. That means it is the entry that will decrease the amount in one account and increase the amount in the other account …..

This article is written by an ex student of mine and a successful advertising professional of today. He will reveal his name and details later as he has some other plans in mind.....It comes to you as a parting read from me as we bid adieu to 2009.
Here is a story of deception of a studious business school student who aspired to make it big one day (of course in business and nothing else) and the deceiver is your favourite author/blogger of Ad formula.

To put the story in to perspective and to obtain clarity you need some character portrayal, here are the characters .....

Victim aka vee
Deceiver aka dee

The victim:
A studious guy with middle class values, partially open minded, confused as any youth, good at numbers but overall a down to earth and a simple human being!

The Deceiver:
Tall and well built, Charming, Humorous, witty and of course intelligent, students would love and long for his classes (at least that is what the girls say)

Things are in perspective I guess and now let’s hear the story ...

Once there was a conference in my college and I was in my first year (as of now I have not met the deceiver or Dee) hence it is made compulsory for all the first years to attend the same. I did not get seats in the first row so i had to compromise sitting in the last row, you know it is very difficult for a studious student to sit in a last row with a bunch of jerks..Well I had no choice that day , it was a fabulous talk on retail banking and corporate banking which I was trying to listen amidst the disturbances by the jerks .

The speaker was talking about an article in business line, having missed the article on that particular day ,it made me curious to read the same and hence opened the paper…bang …Dee was staring at me and called me outside the conference room and embarrassed me for nothing in front of others. When I tried to explain the situation he did not listen to the same … he decided to report the same to the director of the college for misbehavior and sheer indiscipline… this college punished me for the same …this college has a weird way of punishing students

Instant and short term punishment
Long term punishment

I was asked to read the paper loud in front of the students who welcome the guests at reception (they are usually good looking) and I am too a human, young. with all biological senses active …felt embarrassed but had to read in front of them loud ..really loud other go … that was instant punishment ...

I had to even write business line, Hindu paper headline and my opinions on the same daily and submit it to de and that is short term punishment. I wrote it for a year!!!

Days passed by when ever I pass by he would give me dirty looks…I always felt he did not like me..and Dee came to my class one day as I said to myself (Now what!!). he was our professor for advertising .. I got a shock of my life and thought that my life is doomed and I am gonna fail. But as I have mentioned earlier I am a studious student so I had no problem in classes . within few days he liked me as I had brilliant answers and I even excelled in his paper..

He would inspire the whole class talking about bernbach, fallon, Ogilvy and crispin porter bogusky .. this subject fascinated me and I even specialized in advertising..

He was charming and with his sense of humour he can even make a stone laugh , hence he was always surrounded by girls (even the one who I was hitting on ) It sucks when professor becomes your competition…damn!! I sacrificed it all because he inspired me to get in to a fascinating profession Advertising.. it went to an extent where I even threw my campus placements to get in to advertising..

When I called him up one day to tell him that I got a job in an ad agency he smirked…I wondered why he did that… the meaning of his smirk came in to light after a few months in an agency “It was my long term punishment”!!!!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Ad Speak - Big Idea !!!

An invasion of armies can be resisted, but not an idea whose time has come.- Victor Hugo

Much is being talked about the BIG IDEA.. every ad man says this… every ad lecture touts it… what is it in actual?

The big idea is one which makes the BRAND or product PROPOSITION relevant, clear, distinct and memorable. Agencies strive to merge their strategic analysis, their MEDIA choices and gut feelings into an elusive big idea, combining the place a product occupies in a Consumer’s mind, the appearance of the advertisement and the SLOGAN that encapsulates it............ the crux is that the big idea should be big and stand much above the rest in cluttered markets.. The Vodafone Zoo Zoo is an example in the last year of Indian Advertising was relevant, clear, simple, distinct , memorable and hence BIG…. They didn’t take it to where they should have but that is an entirely different thing ….

One classical example from UK is from a 1980s ad for the Volkswagen Golf. They could have relied on the usual checklist of performance criteria, quoting magazines or touting boring fuel economy statistics. Instead, it featured an charming Paula Hamilton storm out of a house after a lovers’ quarrel, throwing away her fur coat and pearls and then, after a masterfully measured pause, holding on to her keys to sweep off in her beloved Golf. The message was that all other pleasures are transient, momentary, superfluous and dispensable, but a VW is a lasting pleasure; if only every-thing in life was as reliable.

An American example of the big idea is Snapple, a non-carbonated soft drink that began life as a niche brand. Its strategy was expressed as “100% natural marketing” which originated from the company appreciating that consumers loved their product. Consumers were encouraged to write in, send photos of them, and tell the company how much they loved Snapple. The agency, Kirshenbaum Bond in New York, answered these letters via TV, magazine and outdoor advertising. One campaign became known as the “love letters” campaign and drew acres of free PR in the national media. It launched Snapple into competition with leading brands such as Coca-Cola. The ads always featured real employees and consumers…..

Now the BIG IDEA need not be an out of the world IDEA… it could be simple and existing.. it could be the daily seen dogs and boys.. it is how the ad man gets to connect them to the brand and its problems in the market place…

There are many examples where such big ideas have been discarded by brand managers and advertising agencies some times without realising that in many ways they are actually tearing out the heart of the advertising communication and some times for availability of better choices and some times due to extraneous factors like fashion and generation changes,,,Some Big ideas start great and get funny later making the viewer feel like why don’t they stop it..? Surf “Daag Ache Hai” and its recent ads are an example…,,

Some Big Idea’s made strong come back after testing other waters, like the Mint with a hole and the Onida Devil.. but gone forever are the Liril Girl, Wah Ustad! Wah Taj !, and the definitely male ……The list is long but I am sure the enlightened reader is aware.. The fact is that our agencies are brilliant in that they come up with wonderful ideas that are big, but they don’t sustain them… the sad fact is that agencies and brand owners fall into boredom with their Big Ideas even before the Target audience does…

Any rejoinders?

Dead End :-
It takes a big idea to attract the attention of consumers and get them to buy your product. Unless your advertising contains a big idea, it will pass like a ship in the night. I doubt if more than one campaign in a hundred contains a big idea.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Xmas..

Adformula wishes a heart felt merry Xams to all its readers !!!

Monday, December 21, 2009

As only an Ad guy can do it !

THis is not a piece of fiction.. this happened in real !!!!!!!!!

Date: 2006 06 21

I was drunk and I regret it. Imagine yourself waking up the morning after you buried your employer’s Cannes Lion on some beach in Cannes. Sounds like a lot of fun until you realize you don’t remember where it was. Anyhow, that’s me, stretched out in bed with hangover-angst pumping through my veins. (groan) To make things worse, I’ve only been with the company for three months. A company that was generous enough to send me on a 3-day vacation to claim the prize and bring it home. Now it’s buried somewhere on the beach of the Palm Beach Casino in Cannes. Please help me get it back. The cost of replacing the lion is what a fast food employee earns in two months. Okay, I earn more but still, it’s a lot of money. I tell you what: If you help me find the lion I’ll give you $1000. No questions asked. Just return something resembling a golden Cyber Lion and I’ll happily hand you a thick wad of cash. The most regretful employee on earth, Tom Eriksen P.S. This is not a prank. This is not a game. This is not a clever campaign (like This is just me, wanting to put things right. Help me. The Awarded Campaign

AD Guys - they are of a special breed ! trust me....

Friday, December 18, 2009

The Fun Gun !!!

When will the ad guys get to more sensical and relevant???? Not in a week end in any case...

Blast the week end guys... !!!!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Polo- What is your HOLE story? - Part II

Another one from the new Polo- What is your HOLE story? ...Enjoy!!!!!!!!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Tiger Woods-The worst a man can get !!!

Every time I decide that I will not again write on celebrities and their role as brand ambassadors, some one comes out of the woods and drag me into this.. Well there is a pun there and I must confess that it just came in a flow.. The topic is Woods and all the brouhaha that surrounds him as more and more women appear from the woods ( ohh the pun again) proving that the ace golfer had a huge fascination for holes, on the green turf and otherwise..

It’s a classic case of brands failing… Eldrick Tont "Tiger" Woods or simply Tiger woods was a brand by himself – a great performer and a real consistent one at that and no matter what now his play boy like image is, till last month he was the most revered icon for the sports world… … High performance delivered every time and for years now.. and that is the profit that his brands (the ones he endorsed) reaped from his aura.. Accenture for years bet on him and him only, portraying his ability to key putt or chip out of the rough and said “High performance delivered” ….Accenture has successfully used Woods to personify its claimed attributes of integrity and high performance.… Now Accenture was the first to forsake the star whose one flaw ( integrity was his other name !) seemingly has become the single most rallying point for the whole world…

It is not woods alone.. History of endorsements is laden with examples of erring celebrities putting brands that depend on them (some cases entirely on them) into disarray… Michael Jackson, and Mike Tyson , to Ben Johnson and Hanse cronje , Britney spears to as recently Micheal Phelps ( for smoking bong -a variant of marijuana, Kellogs dropped him from its endorser list) .. Phelps was dropped not withstanding the fact that the packets of Kellogs with his pics were an instant hit and became a collectors item..

For Accenture the golfer is "no longer the right representative" after the "circumstances of the last two weeks." Said the embarrassed Accenture…The move ends a six-year relationship during which the firm credited its "Go on, be a Tiger" campaign with boosting its image significantly…. Woods was an exception to the serious brand dilution that celebrities were going through.. Not that he was very choosy.. he came for Nike ,American Express, Gillette,General Motors' Buick, Electronic Arts and Tag Heuer watches but for Accenture he stood tall and almost the axis of its entire advertising and when in bad times, this sole dependence has landed the brand and its agency Young and Rubicam, in a tight soup.. they now want to replace all the Woods ads- Tvc’s , hoardings etc… but with what? No alternate strategy was ever in place, with Woods in ….

Woods was so special for his brand owners.. so much so that he appeared with the Nike Swoosh on Accenture ads, his golf bag features a Buick logo even while he endorses Nike and so on… whether this was a proof of brilliance of Nike's Tiger Woods arrangement that other advertisers didn’t mind the presence of the swoosh in their ads or was it simply because they had no option and if they want to use Tiger, they had to turn blind, is still debatable but in the new and changed Wood world it all seems irrelevant..

Gillette and its ads said “the best a man can get” and again Woods was the right match… Now that he has reached a point which certainly is not the best a man can get and where no man ever will want to be, brands one by one are dropping him like hot potato… this is the peril of celebrity endorsements ….

Forbes just a month back described tiger woods as “it's no secret that Tiger Woods is a marketer's dream. The appeal of the good looking, clean-cut, articulate, scandal-free golf whiz is just amazing”…. Now with this fall, which is more personal than professional, (Remember Woods haven’t cheated in his game of golf like a Hanse cronje or Ben Johnson) ads and brands that bet their entire purse on one person, simply because he/ she is a celebrity will think twice .. at least more and serious thoughts of clubbing such endorsement deals with moral clauses attached would be seriously talked about..

Not that a moral clause would have made a Woods to think twice every time he went for an escapade, but that the brands will have lesser losses , financially ,when the enodorses errs… (For the uninitiated, Morals clauses are standard contract terms that allow advertisers to renege on their deals with celebrities if the stars behave badly and ruin their ad plans — as Tiger has done.)…

Wishing Woods a recovery from this personal calamity and hoping to see him again in his turf, playing Golf and endorsing brands.. after all coming back can be more sweeter… and as per his own statement “You can always become better.”

Wishing all the brands that he was with, a smooth transition period …

Friday, December 11, 2009

Hamara Bajaj - Good Bye & RIP !!!

It was last week , when I was talking at a forum where Ad guys in Kochi had assembled and the topic turned out to be nostalgia and the images of the past in advertising…. The organisers showed the Hamara Bajaj ad… No one clapped for a long second but when it broke it broke as if it was the first time they were seeing it.. most of them for sure were young chaps but some of them belonged to the generation which had an unquenchable liking for Bajaj scooters (for want of choice for many but a genuine liking for at least some)…

The product couldn’t be bought as ,from where and when one desired ( a shocking fact for the new Gen who gets everything everywhere) ,waiting lists were ridiculously long, people got MLA’ s and MP’s to recommend, Bribes and premiums to supercede seniority were quite common and Bajaj Scooter was there in any wannabe bride grooms wish list…

Well ! As all good things, now this one too is coming to an end.. the rear view mirror image of the past is to be forgotten, the ghost of the past is shed and to be the “the largest motorcycle maker in the world” Bajaj auto is stopping its Scooter division… Hamara Bajaj nevertheless was a symbol.. of an India that was emerging… of a people that are traditional and yet modern, of a social idea called India that was un paralleled … A benchmark campaign, if there ever was one! It created lots of heartburn for other agencies as well, as every second client kept asking his agency `why can't we do a Hamara Bajaj?'

While in Lintas I have heard long and short stories of how the whole thing was born.. for any one in Lowe Lintas this was a prized posession in the showcase... before the campaign, a lot of factors which has strong India-association, such as, Independence Day, sports and cricket in particular,cinema and heritage were listed down... a press campaign with the theme ‘the great Indian spirit’ as a precursor of sorts to the TVC which followed which had to (and it did) connect the emotions and moments of the viewers to the brand.

Lyrics for the commercials were first written in English and later translated in Hindi. The birth of ‘Hamara Bajaj’ took place with the Hindi translation. Bajaj, promptly replaced ‘the great Indian spirit’, identifying the potential of ‘Hamara’. The term ‘Hamara’ encompassed the entire target audience - consumer or not; it led to a strong association with India.... ( I was told that American and German examples became inspiration for the whole exercise..) Indians are proud to say ‘Hamara India’. Thus, ‘Hamara Bajaj’......

While I refuse to buy “the scooter is dead” school of thought ( there are scooters still made ,sold and doing huge business here) , Let us say a good bye to the good old Bajaj Scooter and hope that later they don’t wake up and say ..hey ! that was a mistake

RIP Bajaj !!!

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Volkswagen Beetle - launch of a legend !

The Volkswagen Beetle is a legend and the ad world have always stood in reverence to the wonderful advertising that Doyle, Dane and Bernbach (DDB) created over so many years for the beetle.. Stormy pitches and messy client agency relationships should learn a lesson or two from the long lasting relation here between the client and his agency… decades now and it still is strong… When others were busy in lionizing size, power, and stature, 1960s Volkswagen Beetle advertising was the tranquil voice for a host of unusual values and selling points. Plus, it made one smile.

How can one see and read the “Think small” ad, after so many years and still not start instantly admiring the great man by the name Bernbach?
How can one after reading the “Live below Your Means” ad, stop wondering why writers aren't like him, simple and yet shooting ideas in the form of words?
How can one not be an ardent fan of advertising after seeing the “No point in showing you the 1962 Volkswagen, it still looks the same." ad…?

Now the iconic beetle is here, In India ….As far as I remember it is the third most awaited car after the First Maruthi and Tata Nano.. and why not ? A Beetle is a Beetle and not any other car could be as successful as the beetle ever was…. The original Bug was the first people’s car and over the years, its popularity has grown heaps and bundles… The new iteration of the Beetle was launched in 1998, drawing inspiration from the original Beetle. Unlike the rear-engined original Beetle, the new Beetle is a front-engined, front wheel drive car.

It is a good looking car. Cute and stylish, it has turned and still turns heads on the street like very few others can. Its price and its place in the C segment is a bit amusing for me but yeah, when a Beetle does it there may be a reason… Its engine, airbags, ABS, electronic stability programme are all wonderful (!!!) but not part of our review here…

Having said so much and having expected the arrival of the Beetle for long, I should say about this ad that you see here made by DDB Mudra ( that is the combine of the One and only DDB and Mudra the Indian partner) for the launch ...

It is nothing but just plain … No great out of the box stuff.. no great creative stand outs, no great punches on clich├ęs and also ran formulae’s.. just simple ads whose sadly ideas sadly are not original..… “Beetle is here- admire it” stuff, which in any case people are doing, with or without the ads… “Recreate a legend” is the brief that was given to the agency, and it simply hasn’t been able to create an inch more of it than the Beetle already had….

I don’t want to accuse of a rip-off and neither do I want to draw similarity to some ads of the past (particularly a print ad by BMW some years ago which showed a valet enjoying the parking business because he gets BMW’s occasionally).. For those who saw the show room ad from Volkswagen and now this ,I am sure the first one looked definitely better in spite of a choking vaccum of an original idea there too.. at least there was a parade of brands there and people got to hear the names..

This print ad looks like a 2009 copy of the "Think small" ad , except that it stand much below in the WOW factor !! The TVC’s where Kid washes car, kid pays owner. Valet parks car, valet pays owner is the theme, is just bland, if my readers can feel what bland really means, that is !

This is from the net …..Lutz Kothe, chief general manager - Marketing and PR, Volkswagen India said, “I have been here since June and at every party that I would go to, everybody would ask ‘When are you launching the Beetle in India?”

Well!!! He has been here from June and what did he learn?
Was this what all and how Beetle and its ad agency in India could have had said?

Is not this the case of an agency taking a client for granted? VW we know is with DDB world wide as a global arrangement, but it need not be for ever and not every where…!!!

Hope the agency is listening !!!

NB:-See more of VW Beetle ads here...
For those who want to read the legend of Beetle read this book by the title..
Small Wonder: The Amazing Story of the Volkswagen Beetle by Walter Henry Nielson...
And some less serious stuff about the beetle here....
The who is who behind Beetle ads in India..
Credit Details (TVC)
Title: Valet
Agency: DDB Mudra
National creative director: Rajeev Raja
Copywriter and chief creative officer: Bobby Pawar
Art Director: Timsy Gupta
Director: Ramamurthy S
Production House: Nirvana Films
Post production: Prime Focus
Music: Clint Fernandes

Credit Details (Print)
Art Director: Timsy Gupta
Copywriter: Anshumani Khanna, Bobby Pawar

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

A Few Good Creative Men !!!

A Few Good Men…..Tom cruise, Jack Nicholson and Demi moore made this 1992 film an epic of sorts with some Oscar nominations and many a wins…

This video here is the same in visuals but the V/O is different.. it really represents what an ad agency is all about !!!

Friday, December 04, 2009

The Fun Gun !!!

Worried because they hadn't heard anything for days from the widow in the neighboring apartment, Mrs. Sharma said to her son, "Viky, would you go next door and see how old Mrs. Agarwal is ?"

A few minutes later, Viky returned.

"Well," asked Mrs.Sharma, "is she all right?"

"She's fine, except that she's angry at you."

"At me?" the woman exclaimed. "Whatever for?"

"She said 'It's none of your business how old she is,'' snickered Viky.

I know some guys in Ad agencies who do the same, neither do they understand what the client wants and speaks about, nor do they come back and brief the people back in the agency about the whole thing !!!

Happy week end folks !!!

POLO- What is your HOLE story? (part II)

As promised here I go with the POLO -HOLE story ads... one for today and another one later... Read the review here...

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Gillette Mach 3- Shave India Movement !!!

A survey conducted by Gillette across 8 Indian metros told guys that they might stand a better chance at landing a job, and even a babe, if they are clean-shaven. Men definitely seem to take a cue, with 72% of them preferring a clean-shave to a beard. And they have women's approval, with 90% women across metros admitting to being turned off by a guy's unshaven look. The study didn’t end there for sure and have moved into a movement which they called as Shave India movement which as the name suggests is to make sure that Indians Shave !

Competition and downslide makes people innovative..... The rule is applicable to Brands as well !!! Shaving is a huge industry in India ( no exact size in crores is available because of the uncertainty in terms of Rural vs Urban and organized vs unorganized) but a major chunk of it is left for the crude and unbranded stuff.. Even among the urban dwellers not all of them think of a shave as a priority and even if they do stuff like Gillette mach 3 would stay a bit far from their grocery list for obvious reasons… Now that is tough for a brand in its maturity stage in its existing market space… go back to basics where ,Kotler famously have suggested various options for brands that move up and down in their PLC.. while in their maturity stage do a market modification, product modification or go for a marketing mix modification

Gillette Mach 3 seemed to have began the modification process quite in right time…some time back they walked into the Cannes festival and came with a gold for the To shave or Not campaign…. Now in an attempt to make more men shave (more users) and more shave per man ( more use per user) it has come out with a bit shocking( positive or negative is the way one sees it) way to reach and communicate to the audience,,, The Shave India Movement ,an off shoot of Women Against Lazy Stubble (W.A.L.S),which is supposedly a serious activity that has research back ups, celebrity parades (Minissha Lamba, Neha Dhupia and Mugdha Godse), and tabular columns to support …and a huge price cut too …..Now, Gillette is offering the Gillette Mach3 at Rs 125 only, so men don't have an excuse any longer for not shaving.
Three things are told to men by this campaign….

1.) Till men don't shave, they will not co-operate with them.
2.) Now that the comfort of Gillette Mach 3 is affordable, there are no more excuses to not be shaving.
3.) If men don't shave, they shouldn't expect women to groom themselves either.

Personally speaking, I for sure wouldn’t buy the 3 rd one… it is nothing but impossible.. I mean women and not grooming...HUH…

There are people who will laugh and smirk at the thought of a shave India movement but from a Marketing communication point of view this is a blitzkrieg of sorts and has reached the people but the impact part is yet to be seen………...

Have they all started shaving?

For that matter have they reached women, whom they want first to be convinced that they in turn can convince/conspire/cajole their men- husbands/brothers/BF’s/ colleagues etc etc to shave or loose whatever in stake…

The idea is simple- the execution is with a big bang, the ads did not look like ads, media influx was ensured , people sat and watched, some with gusto, some with a shriek , some with apathy and many with a disbelief … for a major part of India for whom saving their day to day lives is in question, a shave is the last thing in their priority… The ads but were not talking to them I suppose… not that the campaign hasn’t left a few doubts in my mind… the celebrities ,to be frank and with all due respects to them didn’t evoke any feelings in me.. may be because I am from the south and I DON’T SHAVE ( that seems to be the assumption) but when I talked to my friends and students who are from the North they also seem to be similarly unmoved by the ladies( the celebrities who they feel are unappealing) who says they get turned off by the sight of a lazy stubble…

One guy said who cares?
Another one asked me Minissha who?

But for me off late this “India” thing is enamoring … to look different is the objective and the Lowe directed Walk and Talk campaign and the Small B acted Talk for India (on the 26/11) anniversary did touch me as a TV viewer and I really feel that now Idea is doing a good job but I don’t plan to leave my Vodafone and Airtel for Idea and even if I will do I will move to a Docomo for reasons that every one seem to be moving for……

Gillette and Mach 3 is what I use and may be I am biased but I have to go on record saying that it did impressed me- I mean the idea but the execution could have been better.. it could have covered more areas geographically ( people in the south also shave) trust me!, it could have taken in better and appealing endorsers who when say we hate men who don’t shave, Men really felt depressed, it could have used BTL as well like getting hold of unshaved LAZY guys in malls and supermarkets, multiplexes and beer parlors preferably when they are with their girlfriends and try the trick (I am told that W.A.L.S will be launching a number of interactive forums, film festivals and workshops to spread the core message of the movement - The clean-shaven, confident look over the lazy and scruffy stubbled look)… It is easy to say it could have done this and said that but for what they have done as of now ..three cheers to Gillette and Bates, the agency behind this different campaign !!!!

Tail piece : I hear that Moods condoms is also joining the India bandwagon following Idea and Gillette.. Any guess what would they call their campaign?

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Adfunda --- Adcept!

Adcept is the halfway house in the CREATIVE process of producing an advertisement. As the name suggests, it is half advertisement, half CONCEPT BOARD. (it is another fact that most of the so called finished ads are the same as well) … An adcept is to show the possible, but stripped down and miniature version of the proposed ad theme. This stage could be used for audience research to test its likeability and hence the “saleability” . It could also be used to get the Client to be in the loop and reassure him of the idea.

However a high acceptance of the Adcept does not mean that the finished ad also would be successful (as it depends on various other factors) but an Adcept is a good way of checking that the agency thinking is going in the right direction and there is no dramatic changes in mind in the clients side and agency side after having agreed the strategy and idea in the first place.

In short, Adcepts can bring territories to life, better than verbal concepts can.
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