BY NEETA NAIR
It is that time of the year when advertisers get superactive in fighting for screen space, both big and small. The Indian Premier League (IPL) only gets bigger every year with brand activity around this mostawaited league of the year, threatening to overshadow even the game sometimes. IMPACT not only brings you five ads that give the viewers something to look forward to during break time, but also interesting anecdotes on what transpired behind the scenes during the making of these ads.
The 11th season of IPL has its share of path-breaking ads, with sponsors like Vivo and Coca Cola, Tata Motors, Future Group, Paytm, etc., and innumerable other brand associations for the eight IPL teams, each outdoing the other to stand out amidst all the cricketing action. If the inaugural match, which registered a 37% growth in viewership over the last year, is anything to go by, then the IPL is on its way to becoming Star India’s favourite child and that of the sponsors too. From the sea of advertisements that we are bombarded with in this season, we catch up with the makers of five ads which we feel are a cut above the rest - Harshad Rajadhyaksha, CCO, West, Ogilvy and Kainaz Karmakar, CCO, West, Ogilvy (Cat and dog ad for Vivo), Azazul Haque, CCO, South, Ogilvy (Chonkpur Cheetahs for Amazon), Rajesh Ramaswamy, Executive Director, Lowe Lintas, Bangalore (Gulab Jamun ad for Swiggy), Kapil Batra, Creative Head, McCann WorldGroup Delhi and Prateek Bhardwaj, NCD, McCann WorldGroup (Coke father and son ad), and Hemant Misra, Brand Strategy Consultant to Publicis (Makemytrip gym and plane ads).
So if you want to know how Aamir Khan coped with two pets on the sets, why the cricketers of Amazon’s IPL team Chonkpur Cheetahs have forgotten their real names and how Ranveer and Alia were trapped in a makeshift plane, read on.
‘I HAVE A FATHERLY FEELING TOWARDS CHONKPUR CHEETAHS’
About Azazul Haque
Azazul started his career in 2001 at Lowe Lintas and has worked for agencies like Publicis, Contract Advertising etc and on campaigns like ‘Khushiyon ki home delivery’ and ‘yeh hai rishto ka time’ for Dominos. From Contract Advertising he shifted to Ogilvy in Bombay almost five years ago and worked on campaigns for Madhya Pradesh Tourism, Rajasthan Tourism, Satyamev Jayate campaign with Aamir Khan, and Milton. After winning the Amazon account, he shifted to the Bangalore office where he is currently Ogilvy’s Chief Creative Officer, South.
CCO, SOUTH, OGILVY
Q] Amazon is one of the few IPL campaigns this year that retained the strong bond of the brand with cricket…How did the team ‘Chonkpur Cheetahs’ come about last year?
The team’s name was a figment of my imagination. I was walking out of the office one evening with my bag, I suddenly turned back and said should we call the team ‘Chonkpur Cheetahs’. Everybody looked at me and asked what is Chonkpur Cheetahs. They all laughed, it was a funny name but it got them excited too. Back then we thought that since the ad was to appear around IPL why not have a cricket team that wants to play in IPL but cannot. While they have the talent they don’t have the cricketing gear to help with the practice. We showed how Amazon can play a role in making things accessible to them, because that’s what Amazon does, no matter where you are, you have access to anything via Amazon. We went to the brand with this idea and Amazon thought it was interesting. And that’s how Chonkpur Cheetahs were launched and today it has become a unique property for Amazon, almost like the ZooZoos for Vodafone.
Q] Tell us how you worked on the characterization of Amazon’s T20 IPL team?
We wanted to retain the fun element as far as the names of the cricketers go too. So we cracked the names of Puppi, Dhyani, Khushbu, Shamsher etc. And then we had this character who struggles at English, another one who plays the ‘Kangaroo Shot’, and so on. It literally felt like we were conceiving an IPL team. It was like a feature film for us where every character had to be defined, and not just an ad film. I feel like I have given birth to each of the players as we have written each one’s attributes and imagined how they would be. I have a very fatherly feeling towards the characters. So, I make sure that I am there for the shoots as well. I have a personal equation with most of the actors. In fact they have forgotten their real names. Dhyani keeps forgetting that his name is Rohit, he calls himself Dhyani now.
Q] What was the brief given by Amazon for this season?
They wanted to have progressive storytelling. So, last year they were in Chonkpur, where they were struggling to get access to things. This time they have shifted to a bigger town to fulfill their dreams like most of us. I am from Lucknow myself. So, Chonkpur Cheetahs want to play for the big league games, for which they have to shift to a big city. But the problem now is, before competing with any IPL team they need to compete with big city problems, like ‘shehar ki garmi’, ‘shehar ke kharche’ etc so the matches are between Chonkpur Cheetahs and big city problems. Also the brief mentioned that we need to talk about the benefits of online versus offline. So, in a big city we have to run to 10 places to get three things. So, instead of focusing on my dream and game, I have to run around to buy bucket, mug, toiletries, etc, wasting time. But, on Amazon you can do that in two minutes. So, there was a good brand fit there.
‘HARSHA BHOGLE DID THE COMMENTARY FOR THE GULAB JAMUN AD’
About Rajesh Ramaswamy
A self confessed Bollywood buff, and biking enthusiast, advertising is as much Rajesh Ramaswamy’s hobby as it is his occupation. Rajesh has spent close to two decades in advertising, 13 years of which have been at Lowe Lintas where he is currently serving the position of ‘Executive Director’ at the Bangalore office. His most popular work includes the campaigns for Starsports ‘Kanna keep calm’ and Paperboat memories campaign with Gulzar. But the one that is closest to his heart is his very first ad -- the one he did for UB Export, a local beer brand in Kannada called ‘Yella Ok. Cool Drink Yaake?’ so much so that his current email id is also named after its tagline.
EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, LOWE LINTAS, BANGALORE
Q] The Swiggy Gulab Jamun ad is winning hearts, did that come from a personal experience?
We wanted to make short 20 second ads because during IPL you can’t afford to indulge too much. We were thus trying to figure out a format which was extremely simple and which had very relatable situations. We had a large team including Rimona Ganapathy, Indrasish Mukherjee and Pradhumn Acholia who worked on these ads. So once we zeroed in on the format for the ad all of them had several personal experiences to share which could be used. Like we all know somebody in our gang who orders something that nobody wants to eat and still tries to make everyone eat it. Then there was the Gulab Jamun situation which came from Indrasish. Not all the stories we thought of were converted into ads but whichever added up to the task in hand, which was to convey super fast delivery or no minimum order, made it to the screen. We have made a total of six ads this season.
Q] Did the brand love the idea in one go or did it take some level of convincing?
In fact, we had the gulab jamun idea earlier, and we had presented it to Swiggy but there was no cricketing context to it which they were very keen on. So, then we thought of adding this commentary on ‘looking for a single’. When that commentary came in and it fitted beautifully, Swiggy warmed up to the idea and wanted us to go ahead with it.
Q] So, cricket was a must-have in the creative because it was to play around the time of the IPL?
Yes, it was. Also over here it isn’t like a forced fit because it’s very natural for all of us to order something and watch a match. The commentary fits the plot. We actually got Harsha Bhogle to do the commentary for us and the ad was directed by Abhinav Pratiman of Early Man Films. If you watch all the six ads you will surely find one friend from your circle who is exactly like the protagonist.
Q] Interesting that the commentary was a last minute addition, when you look at it now, one can’t think of separating it from the narrative because of the excellent fit.
Actually, as far as the Swiggy ads are concerned it was a race against time. By the time we cracked the script it was really late and then again we had very little time for production, so we had to double up, and finish it. It was one crazy scenario. And after that we had just a week to execute it.
Q] Did you meet the deadline finally? Or the ad came a little after the opening match?
No, we actually managed to make it on time. The ad was out on the first day of the IPL.
Arun Iyer, Chairman & Chief Creative Officer, Lowe Lintas I don’t feel it is necessary to connect ads to IPL. In Swiggy’s case eating, munching, ordering in and watching the game have a natural connect to it, because most times when you are watching the game, you will order in something. But when you want to talk about a phone, say a Vivo commercial, you can’t force a cricket connect. If all ads do some forced cricket metaphors it will not look good.
‘IT WAS RANVEER’S IDEA TO HAVE A PAUNCH AND BALDING HEAD IN THE AD’
About Hemant Misra
Hemant Misra has been in advertising for more than 25 years and has been associated with agencies like JWT, Mudra, Publicis. Currently he is working as an independent brand strategy consultant to Publicis. The most memorable brands he has worked with include McDonald’s , Orient PSPO, Nestea, Intex Swift, Apollo Tyres, Pan Parag etc.
HEMANT MISRA BRAND STRATEGY
CONSULTANT, TO PUBLICIS
Q] You have been working on MakeMyTrip ads since you won the account in 2015, how was it different this time?
Our objective is to convert the offline buyer to become an online buyer. That remains a consistent strategy and the objective. And invariably Ranveer is the offline buyer and Alia is the smart one--the MakeMyTrip buyer in our ads. Two ads have come out in the series, the gym and the airplane commercial and third one is on its way. This time the focus is on how the word about online booking is spreading. So this time circle widens and goes beyond two people and others are seen joining in the communication. So, the whole idea is- -the world knows about MakeMyTrip, where are you, honey? We tried to bring that out humorously.
Q] Watching Alia and Ranveer on screen is a delight, what are they like behind the scenes?
For the first time we really got Alia and Ranveer trapped in one place. They are such bubbly characters, they just can’t sit in one place. It was one quarter of a plane set made by turning boards, I mean if you saw it, you wouldn’t have believed that this could be an airplane. So, when you see it from inside it’s beautiful, but there is nothing behind or in front. The airplane shoot is a great example of what post production can do to a film.
Q] Do they improvise during the ad film shoot?
Both Ranveer and Alia love the MakeMyTrip shoots, because they can totally get into the skin of the character and enjoy themselves as opposed to just looking like film stars. And I must admit that a lot of the ideas for the ad come from Ranveer and Alia. Remember the first ad where Alia was playing the receptionist at the hotel, it was her idea to get the character to lisp, because she thought it would help the character look more like a regular person. Also in the last film Ranveer is shown with a balding head and a paunch, again that was his idea. In fact in the hospital film where Ranveer plays the doctor, he changed his appearance so much that the client couldn’t recognize him. That’s the beauty of it and that’s how they enjoy it.
Q] How did the airplane idea come up?
The glamour of advertising hides the boredom behind it, hours and hours of boredom and discussion are behind every ad. The plot of the airplane ad simply came from a discussion on how a typical Delhiite enjoys boasting of connections. We wrote 7-8 scripts out of which these three emerged as the best. Plus earlier on we have used places like a reception area, a taxi driver talking to a customer, it was always one on one, there is no third person involved. But this time we wanted to widen the world of Alia, Ranveer and MMT and divide it into a non-MMT person and lots of MMT persons.
Q] What was the brief given to you by the client?
The only thing we were told is that the ad should play out in 20 seconds, as opposed to the regular 50 seconds, because for IPL nobody can afford to run longer ads.
‘SHOOT FOR FATHER-SON COKE AD WENT ON FROM 2PM TO 5AM’
About Kapil Batra and Prateek Bhardwaj
Prateek Bhardwaj is the NCD with McCann WorldGroup. His campaigns have won Grand Prix for Good at Cannes Lions 2017, and Black Pencil at D&AD Impact, for Immunity Charm. He has written taglines like ‘Sprite bujhaye only pyaas, baki all bakwaas’ and ‘Hum Chlor-mint kyon khaate hain’. Kapil Batra is the Creative Head of McCann WorldGroup, Delhi. He has previously been associated with agencies like Contract, Eleven Brandworks and worked on campaigns for brands like Paytm, Chlormint and Greenlam Laminates.
CREATIVE HEAD,MCCANN, WORLDGROUP DELHI
NCD, MCCANN, WORLDGROUP
Q] The Coke father and son ad is the most relatable ad of late on screen, whose idea was it?
Kapil: Yes, we wanted people to find themselves in the ads. The challenge was to come up with interesting stories where Coca Cola plays a vital role in the plot, and is not just another product. We had a fun time writing many such cool stories and when we were to decide which ones to convert into ads, everyone voted for the father-son plot as everyone has parents who send them friend requests on social media. Kids are always a bit apprehensive about sharing their social media activity with their folks.
Q] Are you off Facebook for that exact reason, Kapil?
Kapil: (Laughs) That was one of the things that led to it, I don’t think I want my father to read this interview. So, there were a couple of instances that took place when I was guiding my father on how to remove a link that he had posted on Facebook. Overall the way parents go about social media made us take this ad forward.
Q] ‘Share a Coke’ is a global campaign for Coca Cola, how did you go about giving it an Indian touch?
Prateek: We had to think of ways to re-invent and reenergize relationships through Coke. This is a pan India project which we have localized region wise and we have given our heart and soul to it. From writing the labels on the bottles to the names of the relationships like bro, bhai in the north, anna in the south, veerey in Punjab, dada in West Bengal to the little descriptors below which were also cracked in different languages, everything has been done by us. All of McCann’s creative teams pitched in from our Bombay, Bangalore and Delhi offices.
Kapil: The ads also have been created specific to the market they will be playing in. We have not simply dubbed it. Even for the descriptors it was not that a team sitting in the North was writing for what will be used in the South without any knowledge of the market. We have made five ads in all so far and more are in the pipeline.
Q] How much fun was it shooting the ads?
Prateek: The Coke Bhai ad was obviously meant to be shot outdoors in the peak of summer because of the product category. But on the day we were about to shoot the ‘hot summer film’ Bombay chose to become overcast. It was absolutely dark and drizzling, and we had to shoot through that.
Q] How about the father-son film which features Ashish Vidyarthi as the lead?
Kapil: We had tested quite a few people and Ashish Vidyarthi was one of them.
Prateek: When the casting was shared with us, it was a no-brainer, I mean the way Ashish performed the role in the video test was just too good. Everybody was on board, no debates.
Kapil: We started shooting for the father-son ad at 2 o’clock in the afternoon and it went on till 5:30 next morning. The chemistry was really nice when we were shooting the ad, so much so that it was difficult to edit and make it into a short video to play during IPL breaks.
Q] As Coke is a sponsor for the IPL, were you asked to throw in some IPL connections in the ads?
Prateek: IPL is a medium for us, it’s not a context at all. Kapil: We did a bit of context with the bottles, through the stickers like ‘bowler ko naani yaad aa gayi’ and put the Naani label on the bottle where the word ‘naani’ was supposed to come in the phrase. Similarly there was ‘That was a cool shot, bro’, ‘Hit like a boss’ where bro and boss came from the bottles. That’s how we got some bit of cricket context into it, not in the film.
‘AAMIR KHAN HAD TO WAIT PATIENTLY FOR THE PETS TO GIVE A TAKE’
About Harshad Rajadhyaksha and Kainaz Karmakar
Harshad has over 20 years of experience and has worked for ad agencies like Trikaya Grey, Mudra, Leo Burnett, JWT and now Ogilvy where he is the CCO, West. Kainaz Karmakar has worked with agencies like Leo Burnett, FCB Ulka, JWT and now is the CCO West at Ogilvy. The two worked as an art-copy team for three years at JWT before joining Ogilvy in mid-2010. They have worked together on several campaigns like Dainik Bhaskar Acchi Zidd, Beauty Tips by Reshma etc.
CCO, WEST, OGILVY
CCO, WEST, OGILVY
Q] Vivo, Aamir Khan with a dog and a cat, who thought of this combination?
Harshad: This was our first association with Vivo and for the V9 phone. It was going on IPL which is India’s biggest canvas as far as visibility is concerned, but it also presented a dual challenge because it is also the most cluttered advertising space one could wish for. So when Kainaz and I started brainstorming we thought that since it is a longish season of IPL, why not make multiple ads to showcase features of the phones through it. We had Aamir Khan which was a great plus and decided to add an element which was never seen before with Aamir, the pets.
Kainaz: Four of us worked on this campaign, Harshad, Mahesh Parab, Talha Mohsin and I. If you notice the cat and the dog have a very Tom and Jerry kind of equation. That is why we didn’t take two dogs or two cats because the tension between a cat and the dog allowed us to demonstrate the features of the phone. Aamir Khan uses the features of the phone to sort things between them, and obviously have fun with them.
Q] What happened behind the scenes during the shoot?
Kainaz: We all got training in being good parents because we had to show a lot of patience at the shoot. The pets had mood swings and the cat would only perform when she was in the mood to perform. As you know cats can’t be trained.
Harshad: In fact we had one of India’s finest celebrities Aamir Khan who is flawless and who is known to be such a perfectionist. But even the great and mighty Aamir Khan, along with all of us, had to have that little patient smile on his face and just wait till their majesty, the cat and the dog were in the mood to give their shot.
Q] Aamir looks extremely comfortable with pets on screen, was that the case off screen too?
Kainaz: When we went to present the script to Aamir, we were aware of the fact that we will have limited time to shoot with him as he is a celebrity. So we were careful about not wasting time. And when we did present him the script we asked if he would be comfortable around pets. He replied, ‘Absolutely, I am completely comfortable around animals’. And then later on we figured out he has a cat and a dog.
Harshad: That was a happy coincidence we stumbled upon, the fact that he is actually used to a cat and a dog. That he has both as pets is something we found out later.
Kainaz: So there was a lot of divine play as far as this ad was concerned because the one who wrote the script had no idea that Aamir will be the protagonist and when Aamir came on board we had no idea that he is going to be comfortable with pets. And then everything fell into place.
Q] What did the brand say, are they happy with the outcome and will you take this theme forward?
Harshad: The last we have heard from them is that they are thrilled with the ad.
Kainaz: It was supposed to be a single project, and after the Vivo ad we are doing more projects for them, so I think that itself says a lot. Right now we have done six ads for Vivo, so we are done for this IPL season. Further we will have to figure out whether we want to take the same equation forward or do something different.