By Malay Desai
From: India, by O&M
Spring mattress brand Kurl-On unveiled a new print campaign with the tagline ‘Bounce Back.’ It depicts three characters – Malala Yousafzai, the 14-year-old Pakistani who was shot by extremists before she recovered and won the Nobel Peace Prize for her education activism; Steve Jobs, founder of Apple and Mahatma Gandhi. All three characters are shown falling down after a set-back, hitting the mattress and bouncing back to achieve successes. The Yousafzai ad courted much controversy, and Ogilvy apologised to Malala and her family.
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In our two-and-a-half year history of this column, this is only the first time we are featuring a print campaign. The occasion is befitting, a cover story on the decline of creativity in the medium; but as luck would have it, reactions to this ad say much about this decline.
Kurl-On, one of the few brands in the Rs 700-800 crore largely unorganised Indian mattress market, is promoting itself in the face of a new Dubai-based competitor. Its agency has given the campaign exactly what has been lacking in the medium of late – thought-provoking ideas, striking visuals (the illustrations are the clincher) and relevant copy. The real-life personalitiesare safe (we can suggest more – Big B, Nelson Mandela) and relatable picks.
The core idea, that sometimes all one needs to come back after being decimated is a good night’s sleep, is brilliant. Bouncing back is a universal thought, and is in-sync with the product’s features. Is ‘Malala’s bloodshot head too gory?’ It’s only truthful. ‘How can she be used for selling a mattress?’ Why not – after all she’s been put at par with global icons. ‘Will this offend the Yousafzai family?’ We don’t think Kurl-On will put this on a hoarding outside her home, so little chance. Then why outrage?
Thanks to armchair reactors, Ogilvy’s HQ has had to apologize for this, which is only fair to safeguard the brand; and someone in the India office has been rebuked. “We are investigating how our standards were compromised.. and will take whatever corrective action is necessary.” This could mean ‘stop making provocativeprint ads’.
The Gandhi ad shows him being thrown out of a train, only to take up his stick, charkha and earn a following. Steve Jobs on the other hand, gets booted from an employer, only to (lose hair) and bounce back to become heroic. In totality, the three works provide a clear understanding of the powerful concept, and use wit to talk to the upmarket TA.
Unless the objective of either of these ads was to create controversy (doesn’t seem likely from the grave apology), the reaction to Malala’s ad is a set-back for our advertising standards. Next time, Kurl-On would be better off just flaunting its superior fibre and springs.
NaMo’s #4moreyears moment on Twitter and more
The great Indian poll dance wound up to its expected climax last Friday, and social media was abuzz to Arnab-esque levels. A little after noon, Prime Minister in waiting Narendra Modi tweeted about his victory, partly in Devnagari Hindi and immediately became the fastest tweeter to reach 10,000, 20,000, 40,000 and 50,000 re-tweets. The count was touching 60k when we wrote this and is likely to reach a lakh by the time you read this. Modi’s hysteria-creating tweet has a lot to catch up with the global re-tweet icons though, as Obama’s ‘Four more years’ picture and Ellen’s Oscar mega-selfie are stil l up there with massive numbers. Zooming out though, this seemed to be the perfect ending for a tiring, intrusive social media campaign by BJP and NaMo’s well-oiled online marketing machinery.
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Twitter will have a mute button
Someone at Twitter India is surely having an evil smile these days at the newly introduced ‘mute users’ feature just when the high-voltage elections are over. Enabling you to silence some people you are following (but are afraid to unfollow because they fear bulky recovery agent type men at their door? We really don’t understand this!), the feature will still allow the silenced to interact with you. Jokes apart, this could be useful if a user you like is tweet-blasting from a live event you’re not interested in, or is ranting about archeology or being generally annoying. The feature will come by in the next few weeks… and while we’re at it, let’s also tell you that the social network’s new look for users – a large cover picture and Buzzfeed-style visual tweets will take over your timeline, like it or not, on May 28. #totallydislike
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WhatsApp – the new tool of bookies
And in our #surprisedbutnotshocked snippet this time, we are happy to report that the Indian Premier League’s hallowed, ‘clean’, match-fixing free atmospheres have been thought to have tainted by a breakaway new social network. Hindustan Times last week reported that more bookies have been using WhatsApp, the ubiquitous chat messenger to chat with players and have had virtually no problem thanks to the app’s anonymity. All one needs is a fake number and the player’s phone number to strike a deal. This was apparently reported by a senior player after being bombarded by a bookie. We think WhatsApp is only getting undue blame here, for it’s nearly impossible to track all online chat movements. Also, we hope the bookies aren’t sending inane Alia Bhatt memes to distract cricketers.
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