A bunch of us were at an old-school reunion party. We ran around the hall excitedly, looking for faces we could recognize.
“You look so familiar…Got it! Your wig fell off during ‘Macbeth’!”
“Hey see that fat woman in blue—isn’t she the one who had a crush on Mr Thomas?”
We remembered the funny stories about them. BUT. We just couldn’t remember their names.
Oh no. Isn’t that true of so many ads we see. We remember something funny about them. We remember something awful about them. But we just can’t recall the brand name. Now that’s bad news for an agency or client who just spent crores on a product; only to end up with conversations like this: “Seen that new ad on TV? A guy in class asks his professor to stop his lecture to clear doubts, but is actually drawing his caricature! The humour is superb.”
“What is it for?” I asked. “Can you tell me the brand name?” “Hmmm some cell phone or the other, but I laugh every time I see it!” (At least he got that it was for a cell phone, but we’ll come back to this later).
Now before nervous clients start ringing up their agencies, and convert their ad films into “visual radio-spots” –ie chant the brand name at least six times, imagine how annoying that can be. (Who has trouble recalling Surya Bulbs? At the very start of that song, we know the irritating Surya ad is coming up—and quickly switch channels.) Nor we do want such increased spends that branding reaches ad nauseum levels, prompting us to flee …like the Delhi Half Marathon, despite us liking the film in the first few rounds.
Sometimes a treatment becomes so distinctive, others in the category get mistaken for it. Example: Bipasha preens like Marilyn Monroe in a B&W ad for diamond jewellery. Which one? A friend of mine promptly said “De Beers”, (wrong) and that’s probably because De Beers is so well established for its B&W imagery.
Now try answering these: A little boy tries many times to click his fingers like his Dad—and suddenly gets it. What’s the brand?
Two little boys play football with a baby elephant. What’s the brand?
(Very engaging commercials, but if you’re still saying “hmmmm”, wait for the answers).
So why is it that even well crafted commercials with a good idea end up with people saying “I can’t remember what it was for, but I loved it?” The simple explanation is: a viewer will recall a brand name if he’s currently in the market for that product or service. If you misplaced your cell phone one morning, you’ll be paying very close attention to every cell phone ad on TV (and correctly recall that the brand is Motorola’s MOTOYUVA A810 — for the “caricature ad” mentioned above). If you lost money in the stock market, you may suddenly look at every bank ad with renewed interest. It’s like waiting for your brown suitcase to arrive; every brown suitcase on the carousel will hold your attention, the rest will go by in a blur.
While it’s easy to get brand name recall in less advertised categories, ad agencies usually put in a strong branding idea for easy recall in crowded categories; like the White Whoosh in Tide, the recognizable tune in Raymonds, or the distinctively funny sound ending Bingo chips ads.
Ultimately, how can one crack an ad the whole world loves and remembers—whether they are in the category for it, or not? No denying that a big media budget helps, but when you work out an idea that ties in the product benefit smoothly into the storyline; shoot it with the right director who casts perfectly and makes the acting flawless, you can confidently show the brand name just once in the end (sometimes not even with audio, only the logo!) And have people recall it overnight.
Example? Wake up any urban Indian in mid-sleep and say: Quick! Name the Madhavan and Vidya Balan ad… What’s the bet he’ll get the brand name correct?
Answers to questions:
Bipasha and jewellery: Gili
Boy clicks fingers: IOB
Two boys play with baby elephant: IDBI(Indu Balachandran is contributing editor, traveltocare.com. She writes travel stories and conducts creative workshops)