There are about 59,150 views on YouTube for the commercial where Pepsi’s Youngistaan spoofs Thums Up’s campaign, in which Akshay Kumar lands up in a hospital because of his “love” for Thums Up. (http://in.youtube.com/watch?v=fJxTQvdTsIY&feature=related)
Then it was Sprite’s turn to spoof Pepsi’s Youngistaan campaign featuring actors including Shahrukh Khan, Deepika Padukone and Ranbir Kapoor. (http://in.youtube.com/watch?v=mD_fJEkGD98)
If you are thinking that only the Cola war has seen spoof ads, you are mistaken. Horlicks spoofed Complan in a campaign where it almost showed the product shot of the Complan brand. (http://in.youtube.com/watch?v= LcbLBJSTtQg)
Most recently, Set Wet Zatak spoofed Axe deodorant in a commercial by showing a thin, bare-bodied man who is swinging two axes around himself, in manner of wearing a deodorant.
However, not all brands can resort to spoof advertising. Says Rohit Ohri, managing partner, JWT, “Spoof advertising is something that not all brands can do. It is essentially meant for categories which are fun. If it is a serious brand, a brand in health segment or a brand which is a considerable purchase like a car or a motorcycle, it can do competitive advertising where it talks about its features, saying this is how we are better, but it can’t do mindless spoofs.”
Bobby Pawar, chief creative officer, Mudra, gives some interesting examples of brands which cannot do spoof advertising. “You have to see if it lies within the personality of your brand to do spoof ads. If a brand like Dove starts doing spoof ads, it would be way outside its ambit and character. It will cause damage to the brand. A brand like Nike which is about nobility of the spirit of athletics will be demeaned if it resorts to spoof advertising. You can’t just do spoof ads because it’s a cool idea.”
Josy Paul, chairman and national creative director, BBDO India is of the opinion that if having fun at someone’s expense is what is meant by “spoof” ads, then any brand can do that. He substitutes the word spoof with “laughing or making fun at someone else’s expense”.
Do it well, or else it will backfire, say the experts. “They should be genuinely funny, witty and resonate to the consumers. If it’s not, it can really backfire. It is a very competitive step that you are taking. Unless you do it with a great deal of humor, it can damage the brand.” Pawar agrees and says that “When you take a potshot at somebody in a bad taste, it can upset people. They will see it as an underhanded blow and the brand can be affected. You can screw people but try and not be mean. Don’t try to demean the other brand in that sense. As long it is done intelligently, it is a fair game.”
Paul feels that if you are going to laugh at someone’s expense then that someone has to be an iconic product, an iconic brand, an iconic issue or an iconic campaign. Otherwise there can be confusion as consumers would not even understand the campaign.
So how do brands actually leverage spoof advertising? Ohri cites the example of how Pepsi used to spoof Coke. “Pepsi is an irreverent brand. Pepsi’s very DNA is cocking a snook at the establishment, at the big guys and at the tradition. So, in that DNA, it could do spoofs as it was part of the wave in which the brand was built. For many years in US, Pepsi used to take on Coca Cola. It built its irreverence around making fun at Coke’s expense. Thus, till the time the spoof is intrinsic to the brand, it works wonderfully. The brand has to be intrinsically a fun and a youthful brand.”
Pawar feels that “as spoofs are very topical and if you take the mickey out of somebody, consumers will take notice. They will either applaud it or laugh at it and that’s where you will get brownie points for the brand.”
According to Paul, “The biggest advantage of laughing at someone else’s expense is that you get a chance to ride on someone else’s waves. It gives the brand an instant association with someone else. The association helps you gain instant saliency. The brand may or may not benefit from it but it could definitely be salient.”
What it means for…
- It is essentially meant for categories which are fun. If it is a serious brand, a brand in the health segment or a brand which is a considerable purchase like a car or a motorcycle, then spoof advertising might not work
- If you are going to laugh at someone’s expense then that someone has to be an iconic product, an iconic brand, an iconic issue or an iconic campaign
- It gives the brand an instant association with someone else. The association helps in gaining instant saliency
- Spoof ads should be genuinely funny, witty and resonate to the consumers.
- When you take a potshot at somebody in a bad taste, it can upset people