Thursday, February 24, 2011

In praise of cute kids

People have an unreasonable liking for children and dogs and nowhere else does that liking make itself apparent more than in television commercials. Remember the McDonalds “swing’ commercial where the child smiles and cries with every movement of the swing as the signage keeps appearing and disappearing?

Kid appeal is certainly not a new ploy, nor is it something that Indian advertising has discovered. Yet whilst there are a bevy of TV commercials I will talk about two that caught my fancy. The first is the one made for the ICC cricket World Cup.

The scene is a dressing room of a cricket ground and instead of a collection of sweaty, swearing men one finds a collection of chubby cheeks, rosy lips, dimple chins and curly locks all busy doing multiple things. One is checking the bat, the other is ironing the T shirt , one secures the pads of a player, another fastens his batting glove, a third hands him the envelope and the camera opens on the player who is getting all the attention and for whom the frenetic activity is happening- Sachin Tendulkar. “Best of luck Sachin" says the cutest of them all to a delighted Sachin and the entire bevy of cuties pose for a photograph with the caption “best of luck India” and I felt secretly relieved that thankfully the producer and the agency at least, if not the rest of India remembered that it is not only Sachin’s world cup but India’s as well. I am tempted to go in support of Kapil Dev but will not and stay with the subject of children in advertising.

Say cheese

The next commercial that I am going to talk about is the new Vodafone commercial which is a subtle reminder about number portability and how others are welcome to join.

The commercial starts with a photographer shooting a young boy on a stationary scooter with our inevitable pug dog staring phlegmatically at the camera from the pillion. The photographer asks the boy to rev up the stationary scooter to complete the picture. Soon others kids join the party and as it is not a two wheeler commercial the group moves to a dilapidated bus. Hardly enough to accommodate the sudden influx of more good looking kids who now take their places in an airplane with the dog strategically placed as always. The commercial ends with the caption “welcome to join. Here is number portability with a difference- a subtle, a polite invitation to join the network using a continuing character, the dog which has been a feature of Vodafone’s advertising over the years. Of course it would be interesting to debate which is a better strategy- the more direct one from Idea that tells you simply and directly to “get Idea” or the more subtle one of Vodafone. That debate can wait as it is early days yet for number portability. But there is no debate about the value of having video hooks which serve as memory hooks. I am sure in day after recall tests, consumers will recall the kids and hopefully the brands in question. I certainly can. Though as someone who grew up reading the Malthusian theory, I often wonder whether commercials like these with adorable kids actually end up increasing India’s population!

So let me ask you a question…

How do you ensure that any attention getting devices like children, do not take away from your main message? Who wants a great commercial if you cannot remember the brand!!

Ramanujam Sridhar, CEO, brand – comm.
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1 comment:

thimmaiah said...

In light to your questions I was wondering if you believe that the new cadbury ad could be viewed as an answer. This ad uses the child just perfectly showing her holding onto the chocolate bar with dear life and in no way willing to part with it and highlights the brilliance of a bar of dairy milk. It also shows that its loved by people of all ages not just the kids.