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MBRB Best of 2014: The Good & Weird of Indian Advertising

I Love It, This Feeling!

From a revolutionary celeb condom endorsement to crazy election campaigning, the most memorable ad campaigns of 2014

Ads are the cave art of the twentieth century. 

So said Canadian philosopher Marshall McLuhan,  and we can’t help nodding our heads in vigorous agreement. It’s widely believed that Bollywood is a reflection of  popular culture, but we think that ads do a much better job of capturing the mood of the nation. And the Indian advertising industry is certainly no stranger to capturing the whims and fancies of a billion plus individuals, easily flitting between the formulaic and ground-breaking.

2014 won’t go down as a landmark year for Indian advertising, but it certainly had its moments. From baby steps in capturing the new and progressive India to humour in the strangest of situations, this was a year when the irreverent and the irregular appeared to gather momentum. From the revolutionary to the funny and outright What The?!, here are some of the most enduring advertisements of 2014.

Most Memorable Campaigns:

Idea: No Ullu Banoing

Credit Idea Cellular for sticking to the same advertising strategy – helping solve social issues – for over 5 years, and for repeatedly crafting entertaining and memorable campaigns to deliver this message (who can forget “What an Idea Sirji!” and “Honey Bunny”). Their 2014 tagline – No Ullu Banoing – aptly summed up an election year fought, and won, on the plank of better governance.

Cadbury:  Have You Felt Silk Lately

The company that gave us one of our most memorable ads ever hit bullseye last year with the Have You Felt Silk Lately campaign. The imagery of two teens connecting over a bar of melting chocolate to the tune of “Kiss Me, Close your eyes. Miss Me” perfectly captures the uninhibited exuberance of youth. Which is why we’re conflicted about the brand’s latest TVC featuring the gorgerous Vaani Kapoor – it’s far too chic for our liking.

Raaga: Woman of Today

Ever since the Second Marriage commercial for Tanishq, Titan has been attempting to redefine the on-screen portrayal of women. And who better than the magnificent Nimrat Kaur to portray a woman who refuses to do the expected? Three cheers for #HerLifeHerChoices

Winds of Change:

Amul: Har Ghar Amul Ghar

Just when we were ready to throw our cooking range at the woman who smilingly cooks ten different things for breakfast while also ironing her hubby’s shirt and lacing up her son’s shoes, along comes Amul with this heart-warming TVC of a husband and wife taking turns to dress their kid for school.

Havells: Respect Women

We’ve had a soft spot for Havells’ quirky campaigns ever since their 2008 Shock Laga TVC, and their latest “Respect Women” campaign gently pokes fun at the MTR / Cooking Oil woman who is expected to spend her entire life in the family kitchen.

Also read: 15 Feminist Moments of 2014
Durex: Do The Rex

The MBRB girls have repeatedly professed our admiration for Ranveer Singh on these pages, and he gave us yet another reason to swoon over him in the choice of his first brand endorsement. No, it wasn’t basmati rice, wall paint, a bar of soap or even underwear that RS wanted us to buy; instead, he wanted us to “talk more openly about safe sex by normalising the conversation” as he rapped and rolled in a campaign for condom maker Durex. We love you Ranveer Ching!


Life is Ha Ha Hee Hee:

Centre Fresh: Abe Chup, Kaun Baat Karta Hai Aise

Long before stand up comedy took off in India, we had to rely on Centre Fresh and their unique brand of twisted humour for a break from the crass clichés that Indian telly likes to call comedy. Thankfully, they haven’t lost their touch, as this dig on other telly ads indicates.

Also Read: The Good & Ugly of Indian Ads
Fevicol : Crazy Chairs 

Fevicol has come up with devilishly clever TVCs in the past, and this one correctly predicted the fortunes of the three main players in the Great Indian Elections of 2014.


Best Debut:

Kindle Paperwhite: Celebrating the Joy of Reading

How do you get bibliophiles to buy a product that is often accused of killing bookshops and the very joy of book browsing and reading? By crafting a TVC with a great background score, good acting and exceedingly clever placement of the product features. Even though we tolerate our Kindle as a necessary evil, we have to admit that this is a great example of celebrating not just the joy of reading, but also that of storytelling.


Lost Opportunity:

VogueEmpower featuring Madhuri Dixit:

I’m sure Mads means well when she declares that Ladke Rulate Nahin Hain,  just as Shehnaz Treasurywalla meant well when she pleaded with NaMo, Amitabh Bachchan, Sachin Tendulkar, Shahrukh Khan, Salman Khan, Aamir Khan and Anil Ambani (the nation’s influencers – all men, of course) to SAVE US. But our problem with both these supposedly women-oriented campaigns is that they reinforce the patriarchal notion that the life, and safety, of every woman lies entirely in the hands of her father, brother, boyfriend or husband. How about teaching our boys to cry, and letting our girls discover their own Girl Bilbo? #ChangeYourAttitude

What Were They Thinking?

Prestige  featuring Abhi & Ash

Normal couples bond over books, movies and coffee, but Abhi & Ash spend their romantic moments discussing mixers, grinders, cooktops, water purifiers and …Prestige.

Also Read: The MBRB Ads Quiz
MTS : Internet 3G Baby 

We like eccentricity and a touch of madness in our ads, but this TVC takes bizarreness to an all new low!

Kelloggs Special K featuring Deepika Padukone

Coz, obviously, KJo believes Deeps is not thin enough to star in his latest hour long shaadi song!

Finally, here’s a reminder of how much can change in a year, from none other than the Amul Girl:

Amul Girl Jan14 AAP Arvind Kejriwal

Amul Girl Dec14 AAP Arvind Kejriwal







Also Read: The Underbelly of Election Campaigning

Which ads stayed with you in 2014 ? Tell us in the comments below, or share your recommendations on Facebook or Twitter. And keep returning to MBRB as we look at some of the year’s most memorable moments in the world of books, pop culture, travel and more.

Cover Image courtesy: rabanito via Compfight cc
Amul Posters courtesy: Amul Hits

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