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Why Cadbury 5 Star’s ‘DoNothing’ ad failed to amuse viewers on social media

The humorous ad has drawn flak from social media users, who say it portrays the youth in a poor light. speaks to the campaign agency Ogilvy India and leading creative minds to find what went wrong and what can be done to keep ads from courting controversy

Cadbury 5 Star’s latest ‘Do Nothing’ ad campaign has drawn a lot of flak from social media users for what they said is the insensitive portrayal of the youth. The ad that came out in late December has garnered more than 12 million views on YouTube.

Experts say the timing of the ad, which coincides with the ongoing protests across the country, might have worked against it.  

Kartik Srinivasan

According to brand consultant Kartik Srinivasan, the ad is completely discordant with the current mood of the country, particularly when it comes to the youth, and is being seen as tone-deaf.

“There is a lot of noise and news around the uprising of youth now. It has been like this since December 2019. The ad was released in the last week of December and seems completely discordant from the current mood of the country, particularly when it comes to the youth. If the same ad featured Ramesh-Suresh, it may have seemed completely in-character since they have been established as likeably funny duffers. But, for some bizarre reason, they have a 'youth', who is being thanked for doing nothing,” he said.

“Ads don't exist in a vacuum; they exist in context of what is happening around us, to persuade us. Unlike films that create an imaginary world. So, it's no wonder this ad is being seen as tone-deaf,” he added.

Conceptualised by Ogilvy India, the film opens with an aged woman asking a youngster to pick up her walking stick that fell on the road while she is sitting on a roadside bench.

Lost in the 5 Star bar he’s eating, he responds with 'Ji Maaji' but does not move. As the old lady gets up to pick up the stick herself, a grand piano falls from above on the bench where she was sitting and she escapes death by a whisker. The lady ends up thanking the boy for not doing anything.

Sukesh Nayak

Speaking on the idea and execution of the campaign, Sukesh Nayak, CCO, Ogilvy India, said, “The idea was built around the fact that today's youth is feeling the pressure of being 'always on'. The execution of the creative idea is a comical, exaggerated way to suggest not doing anything isn’t necessarily a bad thing, and that sometimes even good can come of it.”

Ramesh Narayan

Ad man Ramesh Narayan, said, “The youth generation might find it funny and I think the intention of the creative team was just that, speaking from an audience perspective. I think it will be well received. It may not resonate with people in my age group but it doesn’t matter, I am not the audience.”

“There are people who have not understood the point being made and there are a few who have misunderstood the message and are reading it negatively,” said Nayak.

According to Nayak, different stimulus could evoke different response and again if someone doesn’t get it, they could still find the message negative and hence changing the character may not have helped.

Ambi M.G. Parameswaran

Ambi M.G. Parameswaran, Brand Strategist and Founder of, thinks the campaign should not be seen in isolation. “I don’t think the ad is offensive and needs to be seen in the context of the category, which is fun impulse. We cannot be moral-policing candy ads," he tweeted.

Ambi’s tweet:

“There are also lots of people who have understood the message and meaning of the point being made and a large majority are enjoying the creative execution and appreciating the message that comes through the humour of the campaign. What is heartening is that some are returning to watch the ad again and again,” Nayak emphasised.

According to Narayan, it’s a cute and clever ad and it will be seen as an amusing piece of communication for the target audience.

Samit Sinha

Samit Sinha, Founder and Managing Partner, Alchemist Brand Consulting, said, “In the process of making the ad more impactful and funny, the brand and the agency have pushed the envelope a little bit in circumstances when it is okay to do nothing.”

“However, the message in the ad says, ‘Sometime it’s okay to do nothing’ It’s not seriously suggesting that if one sees somebody in danger or seeks help then do nothing. This particular ad is not conveying a bad message; rather it says sometimes it is okay to be lost in your own world,” he said.

According to him, the ad is polarising people where some are seeing humour while others looking at it as irresponsible advertising. But the intended target of the brand is enjoying the humour and finding it funny without getting misled by the message.

Though the ad is humorous, it has invited heavy trolling as well as positive comments from people. Uploaded on the brand’s YouTube channel on December 25, the ad has garnered over 14 million views within a week of its launch. The brand is currently using influencers to promote the campaign using #Eat5StarDoNothing and #5StarDoNothing on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.



Nayak said the ad is being trolled by the people who haven’t understood the message or people who do not understand the force of the pressure that drives young people and burdens them. “The youth have to constantly be out there, making statements, sharing opinions, responding, creating news, just being always on, every day, all day, through the year, all the time, the demands are never-ending. It is something that isn’t/ shouldn’t be controversial at all. As all we are saying is there is no harm done in taking it easy sometimes. That life isn’t a pressure cooker,” he shared.

Speaking on the new protagonists in the latest ad, Nayak said, “Change of protagonists is a manner of taking a next step. It’s an evolution of the 5 Star proposition legitimising ‘taking it easy’, making it okay to slow down and not be on a treadmill all the time.”

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