By Khizra Munir
Although I have been working in advertising for over five and a half years, the bigwigs I have managed to work under keep me feeling humble and I refer to myself as small fry. So when small fry gets a call from
asking her to do a campaign watch, she is appropriately excited. Also, as people who remain in the background when our work is aired or printed, seeing your name go with something is always a novelty. Aurora
The brief (a word I will never escape) was simple. I had almost a month to go through the newspapers and pick five press ads. As a bit of a multitasker, I was relieved that
I had been given enough time. How can you go wrong with such flexibility?
Apparently, you can.
As I scanned newspaper after newspaper, my situation became bleaker and bleaker.
I became more desperate as I searched for the print ads of the campaigns I saw on TV or on billboards. Often there was no press execution. And the ones I did find didn’t do anything. They existed as a formality, for the sake of presence. But not to engage.
I ultimately found what I was looking for, but it got me thinking. Why aren’t we in the business of creating engaging press ads? Why can’t we create press ads that don’t act as a mere recalls for a TVC, but serve as standalone pieces of advertising?
I say ‘we’ because I don’t want to absolve myself from blame. I am part of the problem, and I suppose the realisation doesn’t hit until you are in a situation that throws something like this in your face. We have begun to underrate the power of newspapers. In a world where we get our news online, or through the ever growing stream of news channels, our focus has shifted to digital and TVCs that can be aired mid-break. Or, if nothing else, the brand can pop out as you wait at the traffic signal.
accomplished. Right? But won’t someone think of newspapers? Mission
BRAND: Minute Maid
Campaign: Gulp the pulp
Message: Are you paying attention yet?
Effectiveness: Seeing this ad in a newspaper was a breath of fresh air. I had already admired the billboards because the message was so simple, clear and phrased in a catchy way. Gulp the pulp. It is one of those captions you read once and then your brain takes over, running it on loop. I love the unconventional execution and how it integrates with the medium. It is an idea customised for newspapers, with the Minute Maid bottle sitting in the middle of a story, waiting for you to pick it up. And if you are thirsty, the vain attempts at picking it up will make you stop at the grocery store to quench your built-up thirst.
Verdict: Simple and to the point. A message that doesn’t need much explaining or paying attention to. And eye-catching. It definitely keeps you from turning the page, which means it successfully adapted itself to the medium.
BRAND: Fair & Lovely
Campaign: Fair & Lovely (for men)
Message: Hey man, you need to be fair too!
Effectiveness: I have so much to say about this that I am confused about what to say first. I get it that you wanted to use a big celebrity to endorse your product, but would it not have been more effective if you had chosen someone who wasn’t born fair? Isn’t Shahid Afridi a man who is naturally fair, and not because he uses Fair & Lovely? Secondly, the idea of promoting a fairness cream for men raises more questions. Were women not already suffering from complexes about being fair? Until now men were absolved from this pressure and there you go, you have changed that too! Shahid Afridi has a huge fan following. When he endorses a product that promotes fairness, you have just given an entire population of young men complexes they previously didn’t have.
Verdict: This will not end well!
Campaign: Sunsilk Lively Clean & Fresh (for covered hair)
Message: Of course we know you are there. And we care!
Effectiveness: My first ‘encounter’ with this ad was not the TVC. It was the imposing billboard of an attractive model wearing a bright green headscarf. I checked the brand and saw that it was Sunsilk. To my pleasure, it was a Pakistani model and not a recycled Arab ad. For far too long we have ignored the large number of young women from all walks of life who (by choice or not) cover their heads. Now, with this ad, you have piqued everyone’s interest and received nods of approval for being sensitive to the issues these women might have with their hair. Given Sunsilk’s claims of helping to deal with all kinds of hair, it is very intelligent of the brand to introduce this range. It makes the brand seem more ‘legit’.
Verdict: We have an instant hit!
Campaign: Havoline shield
Message: If you love your car, you will use Havoline.
Effectiveness: This print execution will not make sense unless you see the TVC. At first glance I kept wondering what it was with the grey and red rose petals, until I saw the commercial (which shows you what the ‘petals’ are, and what, how and why the formation happens). There are some ideas you cannot directly translate into a print ad. A little more thought should have gone into this.
Verdict: There’s not much to say. As the much hated phrase goes, ‘maza nahin aya!’
BRAND: Head & Shoulders
Campaign: Head & Shoulders with menthol
Message: To keep a cool (dandruff free) head about you, come to us.
Effectiveness: Head & Shoulders has been delivering its message and ‘services’ for so long, they don’t even need to add the ‘anti-dandruff’ bit to their ad. But of course they will. No big deal. What they did not need to do is mention the ‘100% cool head’ benefit because with a strong visual like their clear, icy bottle with mint leaves floating inside, one gets the message without the caption. The visual is as appealing as it can be to anyone feeling the summer heat – which is all of us.
Verdict: The visual has an instant top-of-mind effect as you browse through shampoos in the summer heat, and recall the promise of a cool scalp.
Khizra Munir is Creative Manager, Interflow Communications. email@example.com
First published in the September-October 2011 issue of