There are two things on TV which vie for the most irritating tag for me these days. And the news channels are losing to the advertisements. Only slightly though, but losing. And for something which you are supposed to tolerate every 15 minutes, making a (aesthetically) bad advertisement should be a criminal offence. Sadly, it isn’t. Let me share a few which really get on my nerves these days.
So there is this new Airtel ad which makes me shudder more, every new day I watch it. It is the My Plan ad. Airtel basically has this new flexible plan which anybody can customize according to their usage requirements. So they have this ad, where they show different individuals interacting with their cellphones in different ways. This is, of course, to show how we all use our phones differently, and hence our data/call plans should be according to our needs. The video is shot in slow motion. Why? Probably because the ad wishes to be BIG. It wants to make an impact (crater). And like filmmakers who slo-mo certain parts of their visual pieces to emphasize those parts, these guys shot this ad in slow motion. And since every single bit of this ad is important, well, the whole of it is in slo-mo. But that’s ok really, it is shot well. I really have no issues with the video of the ad, apart from this guy whose unique expression I cannot stand any longer. I could not figure out any song, which would induce this (below) smile with eye-brows smugness in me.
But the video is alright. The music is good. It has 30 seconds to Mars kind of feel to it. And it carries forward the visual’s endeavor to impart the ad a grand setting. It is one of those songs which start slow and the beats progressively get stronger and reverberating and the vocals get ‘scream-ier’. Anthem rock, if there is any. Then there is the conclusion: a firm female voice which takes over from song-vocals to deliver the message. The message, keeping in with the Grand theme, is very brief.
And stops suddenly.
To stun the audience into awesomeness.
And it would have been an awesome ad but on my third viewing of it, I paid attention to the lyrics. And it blew my inner-ear-fluid-balance thing. The lyrics just did not match the Grand overalls. It was like Sachin holing out to McGrath in the world cup finals chasing 360, in the very first over. It goes something like this:
(The singer starts in his most grunge-growling voice)-
(Slow) ♫ We’re all so different. ♫ (with the TH of differen-th so pronounced, I am sure he looked away from the mic, still holding it, for a sec, in the style of those rockers who deliver a great first line, and draw breath for the next, because the first was so amazing and took such an emotional and physical toll on them)
(And belts this legendary line) ♫ That’s how it should be. ♫(That’s how it should be?? Why do I need this random lame reassurance?)
(Vocals gaining momentum, gradually) ♫ Love, hate, fear and joy. Emotional fingerprints. ♫ (Profound.)
(Towards the crescendo now)♫ Coz I am not you and you are not me. ♫
(And the feverish, heart pounding repeat of the last line) ♫ Coz Aiyaa am not you and you are not me. ♫
(And the lady takes over) Each one of us uses our phones differently. That’s why, MY PLAN. The first ever postpaid plan, that’s created by me, FOR ME.
END. DAMN. Or as a dear friend of mine would have said: Ae Dhishum.
And that ‘Created by Me, FOR ME’ line trod so closely to Lincoln’s “(Government) of the people, by the people, for the people”, I cringed. I think one should steer clear of lines which sound like other famous lines. It is hard to make people believe that you were not inspired.
But the real disaster for me was the quasi-big lyrics. How many great ads do you remember which use background songs which actually say what the product is all about. Hint: not a lot. And not only does this Airtel ad almost does that, it has to insert such a lame filler line in between: That’s how it should be. And to follow it up with such brilliant lines like Coz I am not you and you are not me. It is like Ravi Shastri’s commentary.
Watch the airtel ad here.
Another ad which annoys me a great deal with its substandard writing is the Micromax ad featuring Hugh Jackman. I mean, why would somebody spend big bucks on a Hollywood star and then employ a buffoon for a writer (maybe that is the reason. No money left.). This ad has Hugh Jackman opening with a line
“People have heroes..”.
Who messes up a promising opening line like that? You invariably expect something amazing following ‘People have heroes’. But what he says next is:
“… I found mine in a circus. A Juggler.”
Ok, hmm, well, what, in a circus? A juggler? Really, Hugh Jackman? Mind you, he is playing himself in this ad. He then proceeds to tell us that he, too, is a juggler now, thanks to his cellphone. How? He juggles the many lives of Hugh Jackman through the services of his Micromax CANvas turbo, which can multitask! So Hugh Jackman got this new phone and suddenly he was what he wanted to be all his life: Juggler? The problem is really the small scope of the product. It is a smart phone with a decent processor, that’s all. No big deal. But the brand wants to get big. So it hires a big star, but since they just have an ordinary feature to highlight, they write a script around it which is equally pathetic. What are the many lives of Jackman?
“Friends, work, my passions” (nausea).
And then they keep emphasizing their CAN (taken from CANvas). CAN do this, CAN do that, CAN juggle many lives. Somebody needs to tell them to get rid of that.
Watch the Micromax ad here.
There was this Samsung tab 2 ad which had a jingle like this:
♫ “Anything that’s making news, funny videos on youtube..
♫At the café with angry birds, all the news I read it first..
♫Making calls from everywhere, play cool (..) games anywhere..
♫Reading mails from my boss, downloading files from Dropbox,
♫Here and there and this and that…on the go with my tab”
Watch the ad here.
As if it was not enough that they actually had to list everything their tablet could do, they sang it too. And if these guys could not write a few lines without resorting to using fillers like ‘that’s how it should be’ and ‘here and there and this and that’, why are they writing at all? Why do not they just pay up a little and use a real song, or hire a better writer instead? I am sure they do not really care, because they use the logic that the primary aim of an ad is not to look or sound good; it is to sell stuff, as their shield. Even then, would it hurt if they tried a little harder to dish out something more presentable?
But there are so many ads which do such an amazing job with their songs. Below are two which…wait a min, I guess I would write a separate piece celebrating the good ones. Later.