Creating a Television Commercial (TVC) is always challenging. No, I don’t have any experience in that, but I can imagine the effort that goes into creation of a commercial. Too many parameters that you have to get right. And you can claim to be successful only if it engraves the desired impression in the minds of the target audience.
Over the years, I have seen many commercials come and go. From the time when Doordarshan was the only channel, to now when there are more than, maybe a hundred channels. Some died quietly, some just did their job. Yet some were brilliant. They left a lasting impression. More than just communicating, they interacted. Made you feel like you knew the product even though you have hardly used it. Or even if you hardly have a need for it. It was like they had a soul. And that it reached out to you.
Advertising is a big business today and you see new commercials hitting the television every day. Some of them are very attractive and brilliant. Vodafone’s zoozoo, aged couple vacationing in Goa, and Hutch’s pug campaigns were hugely popular and it is highly unlikely that anyone would have not found themselves attracted to them. However, I feel like stepping back a little, and looking at a few old commercials that may no longer be shown on television, but which have left a lasting impression on me for one reason or the other. And, I am sure that you would be able to connect to some of them too – if you are old enough to have watched them in the first place!
- Lalithaji – It’s hard to ignore Lalithaji who fondly shared her wisdom with us, advising us that ‘Surf ki kharidhari may hi samaj dhari hai’. And in the detergents arena, that was followed by ‘Bala iski kameez meri kameez say safed kaise?’
- And if any detergent advertisement was to be compared with Lalithaji, it could only be Nirma. ‘Washing Powder Nirma …..’ to be clear.
- The Chawanprash ads – ‘Saat saal ke boode, yaa saat saal ke jawan?!’ and ‘Dadaji, badminton!’ Remember them? And it was not like health-related products were always targeted only against the aged dadajis. The marketers didn’t miss out the stressed out office goers. Remember Mohan Gokhale? ‘Yeh bechara, kaam ke bhoj ka maara, isay chaahihe ……..’
- There were a few celebrity endorsements in those days too. None bigger than Lux – ‘filmi sitaron ka soundarya sabun’. It still is, but back then, no SRK. Only leading ladies. And Gavaskar came for Dinesh Suiting ads. But my personal favourite – ‘Palmolive da jawab nahi!’
- And Palmolive’s celebrity punch was countered by a common man in the lift in Godrej shaving cream ads – ‘Sir, which shaving cream do you use? Who? Me?’
- Years ago, in the very early 90s, when he was still a chocolate-faced heartthrob, Aamir Khan came on television for Hero Puch ads. Anyone remembers them? Recently however, probably in a symbolic reflection of how priorities change with time, he came for a series of Mahindra two-wheelers, recommending ‘safe-driving’.
- FMCGs have always been dependent on catchy ads for promotion. Every soap had it’s personality. Long before Santoor, it was ‘Sona, sona, aha Rexona’. But the king of soap ads would undoubtedly be ‘Tandurusti ki raksha kartha hai Lifebuoy, Lifebuoy hai jahan tandurusti hai wahan!’. It was so catchy, that even doctors overlooked the message that they could be out of business if everyone used Lifebuoy!
- One of the first subtle ads to come on television was the Sony Ericsson ‘One black coffee, please’ ad. And that came during the days when LIC kept pounding us that unless insured, families will be in grave difficult when the head of the family dies.
- Garden Vareli too, had its brand of sophisticated ads during those days. And who can forget ‘Only Vimal’!
- A few ads, for some strange reason, stay in memory even though you have nothing to do with the product. The Allwyn fridge advertisement is an example (Remember Allwyn?!). Long after even the brand has gone, I still distinctly remember the adv where a technician comes home to check a complaint on a new Allwyn fridge. The housewife is perplexed. It is cooling well, she says. So, what’s the problem? It doesn’t make any sound! ‘Yeh Allwyn ki tachniki kamaal hai madam’, the technician explains. Back then, I was in Chennai, and found it difficult to understand what ‘tachniki’ meant, only to realize later that it was ‘technical’ in hindi!
- And finally, the classic of them all. My personal favourite:
‘Yeh zameen yeh asmaan, Yeh zameen yeh asmaan,
Hamara Kal, Hamara Aaj, Hamara Kal, Hamara Aaj,
Buland Bharat ki, Buland Tasveer,
Sadly, if you don’t belong to my generation, you might not have seen these commercials. Not to worry, you have equally good ones turning up these days. But arguably, whenever the history of Indian TVCs is discussed anywhere, you would find many of the ones above featuring in the discussion.