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Making ad films larger than life

Industry stalwarts share their views on how brands and agencies have been making efforts to make ad films larger than life with strong story ideas backed up by technology

Making ad films larger than life

Industry stalwarts share their views on how brands and agencies have been making efforts to make ad films larger than life with strong story ideas backed up by technology. The digital format today allows brands and agencies to exploit technology in a different way to make ads more engaging

Aanchal Kohli | Mumbai | December 18, 2015


The Indian ad film market has got much more on its plate now than it had a decade ago. With rising competition and increased investments in brands, there are no stops left in creating larger than life stories even for these 30-second tales. Starting with storytelling, brands are increasingly trying to add in all aspects of Bollywood masala into their ad films as well.

Internationally this concept has been a well-tested formula but in India it is a start of something more innovative and creative for consumers.  Very recently, the Honda Jazz campaign with special effects were so spectacular that the industry thought it to be live action, Ambuja Cement's 'Great Khali Ad' also garnered big traction on digital media, The HappyDent commercial and Indian Army's Recruitment ad created a buzz. OLX’s Daastan campaign, Vodafone’s ZooZoo, Touch the Pickle, DBS Banks’ Chilli Paneer also made a mark. These ad films required a lot of creative concepts and unusual graphics.

Evolution on client’s brief

Suresh Eriyat Suresh Eriyat

Suresh Eriyat, Founder and Creative Director, Eeksaurus, said, “The client brief has evolved over the years due to their increased awareness of changing technology and media. In addition, exposure to ad film festivals both national and international has also allowed for them to witness different thought processes and ideas. I have met many clients who are on the lookout for out of the box ideas for their upcoming ad films. Evolution of an idea, however, is not limited to a client-agency level alone.”

RajDeepak Das RajDeepak Das

RajDeepak Das, Chief Creative Officer, Leo Burnett, said, “The brief has always been larger than life. What veterans like Piyush Pandey, Prasoon Joshi, etc., have been creating for so long marks how creative and larger than life briefs have been. It all depends upon what kind of technology is available during that course of time but the brief has always been to create something that is innovative, engaging and larger than life.”

Adding further, Eriyat said, “Evolution takes place when a client shares and accepts constructive inputs as well. I would say that evolution of idea takes place at every step of an ad campaign's making. And every person involved as a member of the team contributes to this evolution as long as the client perceives them not as mere vendors but as collaborators, be it at the ideation, production or direction stage. An open-minded yet focused client will therefore get the best of their ad film as the idea gets evolved from stage to stage. A closed minded client who always asks ‘show me a reference’ will never be able to get anything unique.”

Gaurav Mehta Gaurav Mehta

Gaurav Mehta, CMO of OLX South Asia, giving a perspective from the brand’s side, said, “I am an avid believer of using the medium for the audience keeping in mind what it can get on the table for the consumers. Today there are mediums that give an opportunity to explore the whole idea behind the commercial more deeply and there are some that do not. Every medium has its own challenges but there will be a lot of commercials that will hit the market which will be engaging and innovative on digital medium.”

Abhijit Avasthi Abhijit Avasthi

Sharing his thoughts, Abhijit Avasthi, Founder, Sideways Consulting, and former National Creative Director of Ogilvy & Mather, said, “I think the digital format today allows brands and agencies to exploit technology in a different way to make it more affective and engaging. However, people in India are still in the mindset that digital involves more production money but it is not the right way to look at it. The definition and possibility of what can be done in films has changed over the years.”

Is it important to make films more real?

Eriyat is of the opinion that the West has often used a very imaginative form of storytelling. We do not see that much imagination when it comes to Indian ad films. “Sometimes innovation cannot be expected only in terms of how the story is told, but calls for innovation at the brand level,” he said.

Das said, “Today technology is used as a filter and hence there is so much talk about it. But if we go back six decades and look at the first commercials, they were very engaging and innovative for the consumers of that era, for example, Humara Bajaj, the Cadbury commercial and more.”

Giving an example of the Volvo Life Paint campaign that demonstrates a light-reflective spray designed to enhance the visibility of cyclists on city streets after dark, Eriyat said, “Imaginative thinking got pushed to a whole new level as they developed a new product for the brand campaign. However, being imaginative and innovative is most important in order to connect with the consumer uniquely. If it is used effectively, it would not matter which medium is used. Take for example the Chipotle campaigns which feature a real story on an unreal canvas whereas the Canal+ ‘The Bear’ commercial as well as the Van Damme ‘The Epic Split’ commercial that featured an unreal story using a real canvas. This is what makes them extremely appealing to the audience of today. In India we don't see this much.”

Is a combination of two or more mediums beneficial?

Eriyat feels that the story should always come first. “One must however explore different mediums to fuel exploration in innovation. I will, once again, take the example of the Van Damme ‘The Epic Split’ campaign where the idea is quite simple, but the execution is strong which creates shock value. The exploration of different ideas combined with openness to different mediums is great as long as it is done well,” he explained.

Das feels that brands use mediums according to their evolution and growth – it was at first only print, then came radio, then television and now digital. He strongly feels that the evolution of ideas changes according to the medium.

Mehta said, opined, “It is quite beneficial. If we look at OLX, we try and tap every medium possible depending on the nature of our campaign.”

Eriyat concluded, “If due justice is done to the story, wherein innovation and imagination have been given prime importance along with brand/product connect, then we would definitely have a form of storytelling that will break through the clutter.”

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