This week there were two campaigns that celebrate the power of human potential, one in a real inspirational sense, the second in a pure commercial sense
Delhi | September 14, 2016
This week there were two campaigns that celebrate the power of human potential, one in a real inspirational sense, the second in a pure commercial sense. One celebrates the power of human endurance, the other urges the audience to enjoy life and unbox their potential. One works brilliantly, the other sounds like a dose of advertising. The two commercials have broken almost at the same time; may be that speaks a bit about the context of the times we are living in.
Adidas salutes human determination
At the heart of the commercial is a simple tale: we make shoes that are odd. Two rights or two lefts for people who have lost one limb. The tale though is not told simply; it’s told with a huge dose of inspiration. The story of Major DP Singh, who is India’s first blade runner and who runs marathon, raises goosebumps. The ad begins narrating the familiar thinking: if a man has lost his limb, may be it’s time to relook at life, may be cut back on physical activity. The narrative goes on to tell how Major Singh refused to be cowed down by being odd limbed and how he redefined his life. Adidas has woven a tale of grit and determination and human endurance in a very inspirational way. The narrative never becomes overtly commercial; the brand doesn't become larger than the runner.
Adidas has done very well to showcase the power of human potential by saluting Major DP Singh.
Snapdeal’s Unbox Zindagi is trying too hard
This week Snapdeal unveiled its new identity, new brand positioning and new campaign. Splashed across all the front pages of newspapers, we now know Snapdeal has turned into red box. This is an interesting evolution for a site that still has in its name has the word ‘deal’. The brand has moved away from instant choices, attractive prices and emotional anchors to someone who delivers a red box to your home. I am not sure if the transition from the place where you find the best for your life to the place that delivers is fundamentally an evolution of promise; it’s more like sideways movement.
Then the brand goes on to build “is a bold and modern symbol of India’s audacious aspiration that our brand seeks to enable. Our symbol is so much more than a box; it is a representation of untold potential and possibilities.”
In the desire to define a wider purpose for the brand, what we get is a load of advertising hyperbole. This advertising hyperbole has met with lukewarm response across the social network, and this is what makes the brand lesser about human potential and more about selling commercial dreams.
Snapdeal wants to become embedded in every Indian’s everyday life, something that cannot be achieved by saying it in an ad campaign, no matter how many celebrities it signs up to say so.
It is not easy for brands to tap into the wider human potential stories. The danger of becoming overtly commercial and losing the wider narrative is real. That is why gems like Adidas ‘Odds’ move people and inspire them to push and make themselves better.