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AdStand: Don’t mock the Dads

This is the first of the exclusive weekly column on current advertisements that Naresh Gupta, Managing Partner and Chief Strategy Officer, Bang in the Middle, will be writing for Best Media Info

Delhi | May 18, 2015

Adstand by Naresh Gupta

IPL is on, and it is almost the mall of advertising messages. Three hours of cricket also has an array of advertising, some good, most indifferent and some terrible. I guess that is how the entire advertising industry is. This column is though is not about good or bad advertising; it is about what I have seen in the ads from popular culture perspective.

Most of these ads are aimed at the new Millennials who are connected, don’t get sold on hyperbole, and generally distrust advertising.

A set of brands are assuming that they are opinionated, so are disrespectful; are connected, so shun authority. Both the assumptions are not true. Culturally the Millenials are closer to their parents. They may disagree with the choices parents make, but that necessarily is not questioning authority.

Take the series of ads from Gionee. The brand wants to tell that it is the latest in technology, has better features than competing brands, and is not the phone of the earlier generation. All three are perfectly fine things to say, except that this needs to be said in a way that makes a compelling narrative for the brand. What we have is a poorly told story, poorly crafted argument and a tonality that is not what resonates with the Millennials.

Why did the brand have to mock the dads? What is so special about #fasterthandadsphone as a conversation curator? If the brand had worked harder at this proposition, then better speed and better technology would have become a very interesting story to tell, involving the audience, making it work for them. Incidentally #DadVsMe is not a new story; it has been done by many brands in far more interesting ways. Imagine if the whole proposition was turned on its head and dad is negotiating with daughter to trade his phone for hers?

Take the Lava mobile ad that has dad come home early to find his daughter having her boyfriend over. The phone rings at the most inopportune time, father can only see the phone. Mesmerized, he doesn’t see the boy who presumably escapes. This tale of dumb father and dumber daughter does not do any good for the brand. Cultural sensitivity is key to creating long-term following for the brand and Lava missed many tricks.

The biggest offender of this may be the earlier TVC of Airtel where the kids are trying to impress their father so that they can trick him into sharing the phone data plan! If only the kids had asked the father!

While a host of brands may be getting the dad equation wrong, Vodafone has got it right. The new hair cut TVC gets the narrative absolutely correct. The father’s desire to put the smile back on the son’s face is beautifully narrated, brilliant in the way they capture the equation between son and father.

The new generation of consumers is not interested in the hyperbolic, product-centric, culturally incorrect ads. This generation does not consume ads; they need to be pulled into the brand narrative.

Turning dad into a comical character to have pot shots at is not the way to create brand influence.

(Naresh Gupta is Managing Partner and CSO of Bang in the Middle. The views expressed are personal.)

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