BRANDS NEED TO MILK THE POWER OF IRRATIONAL THOUGHT
The late actor Ravi Baswani did two famous films in his career. One was the cult classic feature film Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro in which he plays a bumbling photographer called Sudhir Mishra.
The other was an ad-film of b-tex ointment and lotion, which was a spoof of the hit song Oye Oye from the movie Tridev. The jingle for the ad went like “Oye oye, Oye oye, Khujli karne waale B-Tex lagale…”
The advertisement first came out after the release of the movie Tridev in 1989 which had the hit song Oye Oye. Those were the days of rational advertising, in which the benefits of the product were directly highlighted. Like the second line of the b-tex jingle which emphasised that “B-Tex lagake tu apni daad khaaj khujli mita le, Oye Oye.”
Regular listeners of Vividh Bharti would definitely remember the jingle of Saridon, an analgesic , which went like “sirf ek saridon aur sir dard main aaram”. There was also the famous ad for Bajaj bulbs: “ab main bilkul boodha hoon, goli khakar jeeta hoon, lekin aaj bhi ghar ke andar roshni deta bajaj”.
Rational ads highlighting the benefits of a product worked beautifully for products whose usage had a direct measurable sort of impact. Also they worked well at a point of time when product categories were not cluttered with many brands.
But how do you advertise a product like Pan Parag pan masala? Eating pan masala doesn’t have any direct benefits, like the analgesic Saridon or b-tex lotion do. In fact the consumption of pan masala is injurious to health.
So the original Pan Parag pan masala ad featuring the late veteran actors Ashok Kumar and Shammi Kapoor, played on the emotional irrational nerve of the consumer.
The scene was that of a marriage being negotiated and almost settled when Shammi Kapoor says something to the effect of “par hum to aapko ek baat batana bhool hi gaye”. This statement gets Ashok Kumar who is the girl’s father in the advertisement all worked up.
Shammi Kapoor finally relieves the stress by saying “hum to bus itna chahte hain ke aap baratiyon ka swagat pan parag se kijiye”.
Of course nobody started welcoming baratis with Pan Parag after the ad was released. However the irrational exaggeration of the ad where the future father in law expects to be welcomed with Pan Parag ensured that consuming Pan Parag was no longer looked down upon as it was in the past and pushed it into the drawing rooms of middle class India. I can vouch for it given that my maternal grandfather was addicted to it for a very long time.
The broader point here is that whenever a brand needs to make that leap of faith in the minds of the consumer it needs to be advertised in an emotional irrational sort of way.
Take the case of Cadbury Dairy Milk which came out with the “kuch khaas hai hum sabhi main” ad. Who can forgot the beautiful girl running into and then dancing on a cricket field after her boyfriend (from the looks of it) hits a century while the Shankar Mahadevan sung jingle plays in the background.
Cadbury chocolate was till then something that children ate. After this ad, eating Cadbury became cool even for youngsters and the middle aged. The brand made a quantum leap in the mind of the consumer.
The recent Idea ad featuring Abhishek Bachchan which shows how Idea 3G services are helping in solving India’s population problem also falls into such category of ads. When all other telephone companies are busy talking about faster 3G speeds and lower prices, Idea has made a leap of faith and tried to make an emotional irrational connect with the prospective consumer in a category which is cluttered with big brands.
The other brands have been highlighting either the cheap price or a functional attribute both of which are now taken by the consumer as a given. Reliance 3G ad shows how better streaming is possible by using its service. This is a direct functional based approach to advertising. But the point is that faster streaming in 3G is a given.
The Thums Up ad featuring Akshay Kumar is another such ad which plays on the emotional and the irrational. It has Kumar doing stunts and jumping of buildings to get a single bottle of Thums Up.
This ad has helped the brand make a leap of faith in the minds of the consumer as a drink that signifies the cool and the brave. The jumping Kumar seems to be telling the consumer, this is not a sissy’s drink, like some of its competing products are.
The traditional mode in advertising is to highlight the functional attributes of a product, like the age old Lifebuoy ad which talks about “tandurusti ki raksha karta hai Lifebuoy..” or the recent Complan ad which claimed on the basis of a study that drinking Complan adds two inches on an average to the height of the child drinking it.
But when a brand has to make that “leap of faith” in the mind of the consumer, it has to advertise itself in an emotional irrational sort of way.
As William J. Cusick writes in All Customers are Irrational “research shows that 95 percent of our thought processes take place in the irrational, emotional subconscious. In other words, we think (whether we know it or not) through our emotions.”
The Micromax Q7 mobile phone ad took this leap of faith quite literally, in a category where everyone is playing on the feature of a lower price and a longer battery life. The ad showed a boy walking around in a mall while using his Micromax Q7 mobile on which he is watching a movie, typing etc, all at the same time. He is so involved doing this that he pushes a waiter, kicks a kid and even pushes a lady, till he reaches a stage where he misses a step and leaps from the top floor of the mall. And this is where the ad ends with a freeze shot.
(This piece originally appeared in the Corporate Dossier, The Economic Times on Oct 7,2011)