The backstory of how Cadbury recreated its iconic cricket ad from the 90s

Piyush Pandey, Kainaz Karmakar, Harshad Rajdhyaksha, Sukesh Nayak of Ogilvy speak about what went behind the making of the reimagined Cadbury ad

Nisha Qureshi
New Update
The backstory of how Cadbury recreated its iconic cricket ad from the 90s

Back in 1994, Cadbury’s iconic cricket ad, showing a woman dancing with joy on the field as her supposed boyfriend scores a six, had won hearts all over the country. People had regarded it as the ad of the century. Many stalwarts of the advertising industry today say it was the one film that inspired them to enter the world of advertising.

This month, Ogilvy and Cadbury released a reimagined version of the film that is equally being loved by all. In a role reversal, it shows a man dancing as his friend, a woman, scores a sixer.

It is not an easy task to recreate something so iconic and etched in people’s memories, and yet be equally successful. So we spoke to people behind the ad to understand what went behind recreating the magic

The TVC:

Cadbury’s iconic ad from 1994:

Piyush Pandey

According to Piyush Pandey, Chairman Global Creative and Executive Chairman India, Ogilvy, while nostalgia is definitely present, it is not a remake but a fresh take. “It made a different kind of cultural difference in 1994 and this time it is a different cultural truth that we have taken. In those days, it was not normal to see a girl dancing on a cricket field, it was talking about the freedom that I can also do it. Today, our girls are playing such good cricket. So it is a role reversal that girls are playing and boys are responding, which makes it very today,” he stated.

Kainaz Karmakar

According to Kainaz Karmakar, Chief Creative Officer, Ogilvy India, the idea came from two young girls Swagata Banerjee - Creative Director and Samyu Murali- Art Director, who shared it with their boss Tanuja Bhat - Executive Creative Director.

She said they first received the idea on WhatsApp through Tanuja and they were all happy since it came from two young women.

“It's the kind of idea that can be summarised in one sentence. Imagine the most popular ad of Cadbury and now just imagine it being reversed. I think as soon as everybody heard it, they liked it. These girls came up with the idea, and created a beautiful deck about it. The minute we heard the first line about it, we were sold.”

Harshad Rajadhyaksha

So was there was a fear attached to touching something so iconic? Harshad Rajadhyaksha, Chief Creative Officer West, at Ogilvy India said, “Of course, there is a certain awareness that we are touching and building upon something that is not just Ogilvy’s greatest piece of work but also India’s most loved commercial.”

“When a piece of work becomes that popular, it belongs to the people. So if you don’t plan it well, the most scathing criticism is going to come from the masses. We were aware of all that, but there was a certain trust and belief that we have such a great idea in hand that we should surely go out and do justice,” Rajadhyaksha said.

The reimagined film has been directed by Shashanka Chaturvedi of Good Morning Films. Rajadhyaksha said Chaturvedi, who is also known as Bob in the industry, left no stone unturned to recreate it.

“We had Piyush as our wise-counsel. He had done the original film and he was always there to give us his inputs, about what to watch out for and his experiences. Bob had Mahesh Mathai for guidance, who partnered Piyush back then as director for the first film. Overall we had this whole cocoon of exchanging ideas and kind of making the best out of it,” he said.

Sukesh Nayak

“A massive compliment for Bob, who created this with so much depth, with such finesse and such class. It is a tough job to recreate something so magical. I think he's done an outstanding job. Some of us were on the set and it was so nice to see some shots being captured and filmed,” said Sukesh Nayak, Chief Creative Officer at Ogilvy.

Is it resonating with people who might not be aware of the first film?

People from across the marketing and advertising industries have termed the new ad as path-breaking. Apart from admirers in the industry, people from all walks of life are discussing the ad and the nostalgia attached.

However, will the film resonate with a younger group who could be unaware of the previous film?

Mukund Olety

According to Mukund Olety, Chief Creative Officer, VMLY&R India, the original defined a generation. “To recreate this classic required some guts, conviction and brave clients and thank God for that. Hitting straight out of the park, this recreated classic turns gender roles over its head and defines the new generation. As a standalone, it’s a lively ad with a clear message. It’s charming and memorable.”

Pandey, on the other hand, feels the perception that a younger audience would not know about the older film is wrong. He said he speaks at so many colleges around India, and every time the ad is played, people go completely berserk. He said these people might have not been born when that was done but they have watched it on YouTube. He said the ad becoming unfamiliar was not a concern at all. “It is so good that those who may not have heard it will still love it.”

Agnello Dias

Advertising veteran Agnello Dias (Aggie) said when he watched the ad, it brought a smile to his face because everyone has grown up watching the original film.

Asked how the younger audience will react to it, he said, “It marks women coming forward in sports. I liked it. However, it depends on how the target audience remembers the original film. I don’t think it is about eating the chocolate so much as it is about the point of view of the brand and the current world today. It may be restricted to the people who have seen the original film. If you don’t remember the original film, then also it is a decent film. I think 30-40% of people who might not know the original film will not get the charm of it but by itself, it is a decent film.” 

Rajadhyaksha explained that while the film is completely built on the foundation of that eternal classic it is not episodic. “It's not like an episode of your lovely show that you're watching where you need to follow that to understand this. Of course, it has hit all the nostalgia buttons, Shankar Mahadevan’s voice has made so many people’s hearts swell with nostalgia but that is a different thing. Even for people who might not have seen the original, it is still a great message,” he said, adding it is a sign of the times we live in.

Rajadhyaksha gave the example of cricketer Ravichandran Ashwin who retweeted the ad, saying he is glad his daughters will grow up watching it. He said the tweet is the core of what the film is.

Nayak said they felt even if the young generation did not know about the earlier ad, their parents knew about it and that everyone loves it because it is giving a message without being too preachy. The young people who were not even born at the time of the original film have been proudly sharing it everywhere, he said.

Piali Dasgupta

“I have loved every second of the 35-second ad. It’s not easy to reimagine and revisit a classic, because one is always worried about comparisons with the original. But Cadbury pulled it off extremely well and created an ad that is a reflection of the changing world around us and, frankly, which was long overdue,” said Piali Dasgupta, SVP, Marketing, Columbia Pacific Communities.

“What the film achieved is a fantastic connection with all progressive Indians and women in particular, who believe that the future is gender-neutral. Cadbury has always stood for doing the right things – whether it is batting for small business owners for Diwali last year or stepping forward to do something really meaningful for hundreds of children with congenital limb defects through their Rakhi campaign. And this time too, it showed the world that it’s time for a different narrative. Where the woman bats and the man cheers on. And that’s the narrative the consumer of 2021 is eager to see,” she added.

Is the film chasing on the nostalgia factor and what is it going to achieve?

According to the makers, the one thing that the new film surely brings to the table is brand love for Cadbury. Karmakar said they were not trying to achieve anything and there was no strategy as such behind it. “It just felt awesome to do this. It felt like reimagining a classic but for 2021, and giving it a really magical twist. It was all instinct and heart.”

Nayak said the brand will win lots of love of gratitude and well-wishers. “It's definitely gonna help the business. I’m not a business analyst but I think work like this goes beyond business. It builds brands and makes them so strong in the minds of young people.”

Recalling the making of the original film, Pandey said while it was released in 1994, they recorded the memorable song penned by Pandey himself in 1993. He recalled that it was one of the smoothest shoots of those days for him.

“I had recorded the song before the shoot, so we were already thrilled about its magic. The first scene we shot was of the girl dancing, and we got it in the first shot. Although we took 7-8 more shots for safety, we knew that we had it. Mahesh Mathai was the director, so after the first shot, he and I said we think we have got the film. We put the rest of it during the day, but the main shot of the film was the girl dancing.

iconic cricket ad Harshad Rajdhyaksha Cadbury Piyush Pandey Kainaz Karmakar Sukesh Nayak