(This article was originally carried in IMPACT mag.)
By Anil Thakraney
It’s that time of the year. When the best of best (hopefully!) ads will get honoured in sunny Goa. So this time, we decided some of the lemons must also find their rightful place in the sun. After all, they too worked really hard. To create the most banal, the most irritating, the most sadela pieces of work.
Take a BOW, people. For the winners of the ‘Best Of Worst’ Indian advertising, 2009.
PS: There were a million other silly ads not even worth considering. So that should make the winners just a wee bit proud. At least they got noticed!)
1. The ‘Rubber Duck’ Award of the Year: rediff.com
The commercial features a man in his bathtub, as his rubber duck comes alive and gets crooning. Mr Bath Tub tries to capture this great spectacle on his handy cam, when his newspaper turns into a paper dog, while his handy cam starts singing as well. This is followed by even more bizarre stuff. 'Just your stuff', announces the super. Dull, dull, dull. And very painful to watch. Surely the most ducked commercial of the year.
2. The ‘Zero Chemistry’ Award of the Year: Reebok Hexride
The most thoughtless casting of the year. Reebok Hexride roped in brand ambassadors Dhoni and Bipasha Basu. Maahi looked lost and Bips looked hot.
The commercial features a long sequence of the two racing across the streets, attempting to outwit each other. Because Dhoni isn’t able to emote at all, the interaction between the two goes for a toss. Poor Bips. She can’t pull off a movie on her own steam, how could she do that with an advert. Suddenly John Abraham felt like an Oscar winner.
3. The ‘Navel Gazer’ Award of the Year: Tata DOCOMO
Tata DOCOMO’s ‘Friendship Express’ commercial was downright infuriating in its narcissism. The TV commercial features people from different nationalities on a train, complete strangers joining in to recite Tata DOCOMO’s totally rubbish, ear-ache inducing jingle. Wish the Naxals had hi-jacked that damned train.
4. The ‘High Flatulence’ Award of the Year: IDEA
IDEA unleashed ‘Walk & Talk’ as a part of its social causes based campaign. Basically the idea was to encourage people to walk for fitness. An April Fool’s joke. Especially so when you consider that people anyway tend to walk around while using their cell phones, the signal being eternally weak. Thank god no one took the idea seriously, else many fatalities would have occurred as folks yapped away while walking the bustling city roads.
5. The ‘Twisted Creative’ Award of the Year: Bajaj XCD 135
This one features two crazy sisters involved in a deadly karate fight, in an attempt to finish each other, as we later discovered they were trying to decide who would sit on the ‘one billion’ pillion seat. The twisted sisters made sure this was one of the most juvenile and disjointed ads of last year.
6. The ‘Untimely Death’ Award of the Year: Onida
The killing of the devil made national news, and the subject was heatedly debated on prime time television. And the new campaign for the assorted Onida durables featured a couple called Siddharth and Ritu, and it had the duo exchanging some maha silly banter with each other. No idea, no memory hook, no nothing. Resulting in what can easily be called the most horrendous advertising of last year. The devil must be guffawing in hell.
7. The ‘Dark Ages’ Award of the Year: EBay
EBay released a series of black and white commercials, and the appalling creative strategy was to revive the dark old days of Doordarshan. And so the anchors hired were Messers Fossils, Dr Narrotam Puri and Komal GB Singh, both from DD’s rotting archives. Completely ludicrous advertising, completely irrelevant, and worse, it was not even funny. DD must be happy, though.
8. The ‘Tapori Award’ of the Year: Montblanc
Montblanc positioned the pen as a proud legacy that gets passed down from gen to gen. Fair enough. But they needed a sophisticated actor like Bachchan to pull the story off. Instead, they settled for the ‘poor man’s Bachchan’. Didn’t work. Slumdog Anil Kapoor essayed tapori character roles pretty much all his acting life. He’s as far removed from literature, class and pedigree as are Shakti Kapoor and Rakhi Sawant. Ekdum dhaasu pen ka vaat lagaa dala!
9. The ‘Titanic Disaster’ Award of the Year: Nirma
Desperate makers of Nirma dived underwater for some inspiration. And they floated in mermaids into our lives. As they frolicked underwater, to the beat of lilting operatic music. Good show. But too much of a creative leap for a down-market brand. Only a day earlier, desi chicks called Rekha, Jaya and Sushma were promising us ‘dhoodh si safedi’. Predictably, the mermaids drowned before the year was out.
10. The ‘Get Chicks Free’ Award of the Year: Xylo
More thakela suits and equally more thakeli pretty women. The Mahindra Xylo boasts of some cool plusses. Foldable flight trays, walk-through aisles, flatbed seats, individual reading lamps, digital drive assist system, etc. And what did the commercial highlight? Hard partying duds and tight close ups of tits, legs and arses of bimbettes. All grooving to the eighties track, ‘Have the time of your life!’ Either the Mahindra Xylo managers were utterly confused about their target audience. Or had a very poor opinion of India’s corporate honchos.
11. The ‘Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde’ Award of the Year: Maruti SX4
Makers of the so-called ‘man’s car’, Maruti SX4. decided to tell us who the asli mard was in their judgment. A pucca gentleman otherwise, but the moment he lays his hands on the car’s steering wheel, the fellow morphs into a raging beast. The TVC features a suit behaving pretty decently in public places. But once he gets inside the SX4, the dude lets loose all hell on the road. They should have cast Mr Alistair Pereira in the advert. Neighbours said the chap is basically a nice guy.
12. The ‘Eoooooooow!’ Award of the Year: Nerolac Excel Total
An interesting metaphor was used by Nerolac Excel Total to communicate durability of its paint. They used make-up peeling off a woman’s face to make the point. The TVC stars a boisterous behenji named ‘Papdi Priya’. Overtly decked-up with layers of make-up, she is seen frightening the hell out of everyone on the streets, as her make-up gradually peels off. A totally creepy commercial. Papdi Priya looked like a victim in a B-grade Hollywood horror flick. Almost like Freddy Krueger did his number on her face. Brrrr…