Sunday, June 03, 2012


(Disclaimer: For the sake of this rant, assume that Tata Docomo, Cadbury Dairy Milk and Flipkart did not advertise during the IPL. It would be unfair to include three actually brilliant campaigns in this harangue.)

I am convinced that one of the leading reasons the IPL 5 was as successful as it's being made out to be was not because the quality of cricket was spectacularly more brilliant. We've had close contests before, we've had bowlers in previous IPLs too making their presence felt, and had stunning individual performances too.

Oh, no. Don't be misled. Don't let those slick BCCI media chaps fool you into thinking that this IPL was ACTUALLY better than previous editions.

The truth of the matter, simply, is that the cricket was better in comparison to the ads that played during the IPL. So much so, that after seeing that monstrosity of an ad starring Abhishek Bachchan, you actually felt relieved to go back to the stadium and you'd even embrace Danny Morrison and spend an hour with him, just so that he took you away from Idea's gargantuan cataclysm.

Oh yes. Everything works in relative terms. The IPL is no stranger to terrible advertising. Last year, we were subjected to Lloyd bringing us the worst jingle known to mankind. The year before, there was some stout gentleman called KC Abraham raving about his brand of Ayurvedic aphrodisiacs (that year, we had Kochi Tuskers and the Silsila guy also. It was not a good time to be a Malayalee).

Thankfully, I could find only the 11 second version

But the advertising during the IPL5 plunged to such a depth, it made Black Sabbath's last few albums look like a small blip. The IPL5 advertising standards were so low, its absolute value would still be negative.
It wasn't consumer demands and complaints that led TRAI to impose a 12-minute-per-hour imposition of ad time, it was because the head honchos of TRAI were watching the IPL one day after a particularly harrasing day of trying to sort the 2G mess out, and one of their board members died after hearing the now seminal line 'P... P... P... Priya, mere saath ek Frooti share karoge?'.

Make no mistake. The ads during the IPL5 were monstrous, pathetic, appalling, revolting, dreadful, ghastly, atrocious, awful, piles of leviathan garbage that made you want to cut an incision in your cranium, crack open your skull, reach out for your brain and rip your amygdala out so that you wouldn't have to feel emotion ever again. I missed out a very vital adjective in that sentence: Embarrassing. Imagine being an advertising professional watching the IPL with family members or colleagues from other countries.

Now, the IPL has always been a paragon in creative ways of wasting money. For instance, few can forget this:

When this flew over Antilla, Nita Ambani looked out and yelled, 
"Stop fooling around and get back down here, Akash!" 
Yes, but like I was saying - the IPL sets and inspires new benchmarks when it comes to smoked-up ways of spending money. Hence, it would only be natural that some of India's companies adopt this mentality and dish out the worst possible creative work they could. Imagine paying crores of rupees to make those barf-worthy Vodafone ads (That money could have been used to just pay the damn government and get them to shut the fuchsia up)!.

Let's have a look at the biggest duds of the IPL (no - Ravindra Jadeja is not in this list. For stuff like that, you need to ask him.):

3. Frooti: Because every woman's dream guy is a valedictorian who not just proposes to her while stuttering, but does so clutching something that he should have outgrown in the 6th grade. Granted, with lunatics like Kapil Sibal around, it would hardly be appropriate to show him swagger a Smirnoff (which is what was actually required). Unless the Frooti was very heavily spiked (all Wodehouse fans - remember Gussie distributing prizes?), the lad could not have pulled this off. It was cringe-inducing. You can relive the magic, fresh and juicy, here.

This, along with Katrina Kaif's alphonso rape, have been responsible for mangoes 
going out of style quicker than you can say 'DLF Maximum'

2. Vodafone: What were they even thinking? They had the Zoozoos. They had the pug. We loved both.  There have been some bad, puzzling, head-scratch-inducing decisions that the world has seen - letting Tony John be the lead singer of Avial, allowing Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy to be made into a movie, discontinuing the Altec Lansing MX5021, to name a few - but the decision to ditch two of the best (and most recognizable) properties in Indian advertising to make a set of ads so indecipherable it made Kurt Cobain sound like a spelling bee champion - tops the list.

It's incredible because this was not KC Abraham selling his shit aphrodisiac. This was from one of India's best marketing brands, and from one of India's best creative agencies.

They ditched them 'zoos for this?

As if taking a cue from the various Instagram jokes (paying $1b for something that makes your photos look older, etc), Vodafone's new set of ads made many people actually wonder if their TV sets were working fine. 'Rubbish' would not even begin to describe these abominable tributes to Takeshi's Castle.

I'm considering porting over to something else thanks to these ads. Actually, it's because of the range in my new apartment, but stating this would be a cooler reason.

1. Idea: Now, where do I even begin? Idea, like Vodafone, had a brilliant property with their 'What an Idea, Sirjee!' plank. The subsequent 'No Idea... Get Idea' ads were simple and brilliant. Every time I went to an elevator, I thought of Idea. It achieved what every advertising tries to do - touch a chord with basic human nature. Idea had the best execution when Mobile Number Portability came out (everyone else just pleaded you to join them), and it worked - they had the maximum number of port-ins. The Idea ads, many said, were Abhishek Bachchan's best performances on screen.

And then.


Abomination number 1

and this...

Abomination 2

and this.

What a terrible, terrible idea, sirjee 3G

There were a few more, but why risk the chance of losing readership?
Now observe the last ad in particular. It is, without a shadow of a doubt, despite Himesh Reshamiya's best efforts, the most annoying thing you will ever see on Indian television. In fact, if I were to plot a graph:

This should sum it up nicely

Everything from that pathetic firang accent (which also manages to beat the fake Hindi accent from the slum kid in the Avengers) to Abhishek's "Nah - 3G!" added up to mute buttons across the country being worn out during the course of the two months.

There were other disasters, of course. Like Volkswagen (but that was the case of a useless product as well. After all, who DOESN'T want a car showing you the IPL while you drive, no?) and Gems (which at least had some amount of a story... And I'm being as generous as I can here). There were more duds like Pepsi, too which were pathetic pieces of advertising, standalone. 

But you know what they said about Deep Purple's brilliant album, Machine Head? Each song was a gem, but because of the brilliance of Smoke On The Water and Space Truckin', other gems like Lazy and Pictures of Home are generally overlooked. It was the same thing with the IPL advertising. Because of the gigamonstrous standards of Idea, Vodafone and Frooti - the others could be overlooked. 

The saddest part of all this? It actually looked to be a promising season for IPL advertising, what with this awesome film being the ad for the IPL itself.

Like Paul Valthaty's career, it promised much but delivered nothing subsequently

Oh well, on the bright side, our customs officials won't have too much work to do when the return contingent from Cannes arrives.