“Viral” fever and the Marketing “mauka”!!!

As India kicked off its campaign to defend the Cricket World Cup with a high-octane league match with its arch rival Pakistan, for Star Sports it was a perfect ‘mauka’(opportunity) to milk the moment. And how it did!!! With a very interesting commercial which is now part of marketing folklore showing a Pakistani fan eagerly waiting for the mauka to celebrate a Pakistani win in vain in the last 5 world cup encounters. The ad had all the ingredients to make it “viral worthy”. Soon the commercial indeed went viral and is even today much talked about. Newspapers wrote about the ad, online editions carried the link, In YouTube the ad got a few million hits, the ad got shared in social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook, WhatsApp,… and also got written about in innumerable blogs,… No wonder the makers decided to spin the one ad to a ‘Mauka Mauka’ series as seen thro’ the eyes of the same Pak fan for all India matches so far. If you notice, while the 1st spot (the India-Pakistan) one was shown again and again, the subsequent ones were just aired few times just enough to carry the story further. Because by now the Mauka fever had become viral and you, me and all of us became Star Sports’ unpaid brand ambassadors by sharing the every new ‘Mauka’ spot as soon as it was aired!  And that is the point I am trying to drive in this post. For a marketer trying to promote his/her brand it makes sense to make the commercial “viral worthy”, sit back and relax as consumers multiply the reach of the brand.


For small brands with limited budgets, this approach comes as a panacea to achieve high share of voice with low ad spends. And for big brands this gives the potential to get more bang for the buck! This (to make their ads viral worthy) seems to be a very simplistic and obvious solution in front of marketers. However a casual review of the TVCs which we see day in and day reveals that this approach may not be so obvious. In a typical day except for 1 or 2 TVCs which are viral worthy the others are mostly the usual drivel. For example, on the same day of the Ind-Pak match there was just another ad which was viral worthy. That was the one for Fevi kwik – again smartly playing with emotions coinciding with the Ind-Pak encounter while at the same time driving home the brand’s promise – ‘Todo nahi, Jodo’. Brilliant stuff.

So what makes an ad go viral?? My take:

And the best part is some of the good viral worthy ads spawn off spoofs (as seen in the Mauka series) and other versions (did you know a slow motion version of the Ind-Pak fevikwik ad was created and uploaded by somebody which is really funny) as well which keeps the brand top of the mind for extended periods!

For small/start up agencies/production houses one such viral campaign is enough to leap frog them to stardom. Who had heard the name – Bubblewrap Films before the Mauka, Mauka campaign?? Or for that matter who knew Vishal Malhotra the model who is the Pakistani fan in the campaign a month ago?? Now I do!!

In the pre social media/smart phone/internet days a good ad will be just talked about may be by a few people who are interested in the subject. In these times, they don’t get talked about but they get shared, and shared many times over across many platforms.

So a new brand, limited budget with mass offering??? A smart idea would be to spend time and resources to create an ad that is spot on viral worthy, have a few releases with the limited budget and then make sure to leak the links in all social media platforms. (Ironically, even a day after the Ind-Pak Fevi kwik ad was released, its link was not uploaded on YouTube!!!) And then follow it up with plugs in the media about germination of the Big Idea, making of the commercial,…,…

Just one note of caution. It’s not just ads which are viralling today. Songs, documentaries, jokes and so many sundry stuff. So, soon it will become a battle to win in the viral space as well.

And once I finish this post I am going to share this in different platforms not missing the ‘mauka‘ to viral this post!!! (And contributing to the viral velocity of the ads ofcourse!!!)

Postscript: It’s another matter that an Ind-Pak encounter that too in a World Cup doesn’t need promotion at all. But Star Sports had to promote it due its obligation/commitment to its sponsors, advertisers,.. I guess. Having said all this, I do feel that the Mauka, Mauka campaign is now getting a tad boring. What was natural in the 1st 2/3 spots seems artificial now and is losing steam!!! So there the other lesson – Even a What an Idea, Sirji when over flogged becomes – What a boring idea, Sirji!!!

One has now lost count of the ‘Mauka’ spoofs hitting YouTube every day now!!! And they seem better than the Star Sports version of the Mauka ads being released now 😦 😦

Stir up to Sell – The New Mantra(d)!!!

 I don’t recall many ads in the recent past which have kicked off such a huge debate as the new Airtel ad which went on air last week.  If you are one to miss that, do watch it here.  Twitterati is divided in the middle as to if the ad is reinforcing male/female stereotypes or breaking. Or for that matter if the ad is trying hard to be feminist when it is not and so on. As is the wont these days, when social media buzzes on something, can the main stream media be left far behind?? I must have pored into atleast 10 columns trashing or eulogizing the ad.

This is one interesting debate on TV !!!

While the ad breaks new ground in showing a successful woman who is giving stern work instructions to her male subordinate in the 1st half, in the second half, the same lady is shown as a better half cooking dinner for her husband who is incidentally the same subordinate at office. The common critical take in the social media is questioning this apparent stereotyping of women – as submissive where the lady inspite of being a successful career woman has to don the dutiful wife role at home and cook food.  Coming on the heels of the now famous quote of Indra Nooyi that “Women can’t have it all” the response to this ad has been pretty predictable. Somehow the narrative of a successful career woman but cooking food for her partner at home has not been consumed well.

airtel ad

In all this debate on the ad what is being missed according to me is the strategy behind the narrative of the ad itself. Which is, to take a contrarian position, stir up a storm and be top of the mind for a good few days there by get more bang for the buck spent. And this trend in advertising has not started with this Airtel ad. This goes back quite a few years. In the past marketers were more circumspect in adopting this “Stirring up a storm” strategy to sell their products. So you saw this once in a while like the Liril waterfall ad of yore or the ad for Tuff Shoes where the models Milind Soman and Madhu Sapre were wearing just a snake and so on,..

But oflate, I guess marketers and their advertising counterparts have become more belligerent in adopting this strategy to hawk their wares and get their space under the Sun.  So we now get see more and more ads which go against established stereotypes.  As per me, in Indian advertising Balki of Lowe and his team has been one who have used this quite effectively and often. The Havells ads for fans usually go against the grain. Same for some of the “What an Idea, Sirji” commercials for Idea Cellular.  The Jaago Re campaign for Tata Tea also I would say fall in this category of ads.

Few months back, Tanishq the jewellery brand from Tata kicked off debate and interesting conversations in the media with their ad celebrating remarriage of a woman. Watch it here. Again clearly a story which charts new territory, (shows a dusky bride, bride walks along with a small girl to the mandap, the girl is her daughter, the groom carries the small girl along while doing the pheras,…)  sparks a huge debate and eventually garners a lot more interest for the brand. (Incidentally Lowe has been the agency behind all these campaigns!!!)

This recent ad for Brooke Bond Red label tea by Ogilvy India is another example of going against the tide to garner attention. The Hindu-Muslim plot (normally avoided in commercials) in the story is the new twist. There is always this threat of a strong over powering story shadowing the brand itself in ads. Like in this case while I remembered that it was a tea ad, had to drink few cups and wake myself up to recall the brand 😦 😦  This happens.

Recently, the series of ads for Kaun Banega Crorepati  (KBC) by Leo Burnett India have also been treading this path and have met with a lot of keen interest. The two spots I saw (see here and here) as part of the campaign shatter established stereotypes.  Not that great ads are required to evince interest in a successful show like KBC with Amitabh Bachchan as the anchor. But I guess they also have to sustain the interest after so many seasons.

Coming back to the Airtel Ad conceived by the agency Taproot India, my own view is that it is a sweet ad, executed very well. There is nothing in the ad which goes against woman as the social media debates make us to believe. As per me, there is nothing regressive in a woman cooking and as long as she wants to cook a nice meal and enjoys what she does (like it is shown in this TVC) to demonstrate her love to her hubby, there is nothing wrong.  Same is true if its vice versa – husband cooking at home.  I have to allude here to my earlier post – By hook or Cook!! here 🙂 🙂

So want your ads to work big time?  Take a contrarian position, stir up a storm and the idle armchair minds in the social media (me included) will debate and do the needful for you. As far your brand, with all the unpaid buzz around the ad, will laugh its way to the coffers.  That’s some home cooked food for thought 🙂 🙂 🙂

P.S: Now, only if Airtel can make their network as effective as their ads 😦 😦

Kal bhi, Aaj bhi, Aaj bhi Kal bhi,…

“Kal bhi, aaj bhi, aaj bhi kal bhi,..” goes the jingle of one my all-time favorite ads in Indian TV and this was for the “VIP” luggage.  I’m not sure so much of the “Facebook” generation, but I’m certain that this ad resonates with what I call as the “Doordarshan” generation to which I belong.   Every generation grows up on something which it then holds with much nostalgia for life. I for one, grew up when Doordarshan just started ruling the airwaves in the 80s. With the wisdom of hindsight, one can say that the technology was prosaic, the choice was none and the content naive but it was a time when for most, wake up alarm on a Sunday would be the  sound of the conch in  “Mahabharat”,  guests had to just wait if they dropped by during “Hum log”,  Sunday evenings were not for Dine out but for “Movie in” and ‘TGIF” was not for pubbing but for getting home to catch the latest film songs with “Chitrahaar” or “Oliyum Oliyum” !!!

Interspersed with these were the TVCs through which marketers of the day were trying to increase the market share of their company’s wares.  This blog is a tribute to some of that work which in my opinion is memorable.  They may not be the best from marketing theory or strategic stand point but unforgettable certainly they are!!!

The list ( TVCs of the 80’s ) follows just the alphabetical order and is not a ranking of any kind:

1. Bajaj Scooters – “Hamara Bajaj” – The commercial captured the mood of the rising or rather riding India those days – the jingle of course was masterclass.


2.  Fevicol – ” Zor Ka Jhatka” – This ad started the creative journey of the brand I must say.  ( features Rajkumar Hirani as a model !!! ). Much later the advg. which had raw humor as its thread would catapult the brand to a marketing trailblazer !


3.  Frooti – ” Mango Frooti – Fresh’n juicy” – Made Frooti a “Xerox” of tetrapack fruit drinks.  Even today in trains they don’t sell fruit drinks, they sell only Frooti !!! Why then grow up ?

4. Godrej Storwel :  Made gifting a Storwel a norm during marriages ! I’m also a bit biased here ( I started my career with


5.  Maggi Sauce : ” Its different” – While most ads become memorable becoz of endearing images or jingle this appealed to one’s  taste because of its idea, story and its characters. Javed Jafry and Pankaj Kapur certainly made it different boss!


6. Nirma : “Washing powder Nirma” – Doodh se safedi, Nirma se aayi – Even the brand managers feel that the jingle is so memorable that they continue the link even to this day !!!  The original commercial was typically made Sasta, Sundar but tikau ! In the 90’s Nirma rattled the hell out of Hindustan Lever at one time !


7.  Pan Parag :  The script, the actors ( Shammi Kappor, Ashok Kumar ) a typical Hindi move scene type – a great mix. Made the brand a 1st mover in this category. Ghutka in sachets became fashionable !


8. Rasna : ” I lov u, Rasna” – This line and the Rasna Girl made the ad such a lovable one.   It remains an Old Classic. Where is Rasna and the Girl today ?


9. Surf – “Lalitaji” – Alyque Padamsee’s claim to fame.   It related to the middle class and tried to change buying habits and succeeded too !  Though I felt the lady a bit irritating those days !


10. Tata Steel : “We also make steel” : This shows that an ad can become memorable without a great jingle. One of my personal favorite corporate campaigns !


11. Vicks – “Gale Mein Kich Kich” – The models did a great job.


12. Videocon Washing machine : A very simple straight forward ad which became famous because of its catchy jingle.

13. VIP Luggage : Kal bhi – Touches an emotional chord with its poetic lines and imagery – I thought it was a great campaign which removed functionality and brought emotions into this category advg.


14.  Woodwards Gripe Water : I remember this ad more in Tamil. ” Enna Aachu ? / Kya Hua ? ”  A simple idea, executed very well.


15. Mile Sur Mera tumhara – Though it was not a TVC perse, one cannot miss this video in any list which talks of DD or “Good old days“.


Well I’m not sure if that list was exhaustive and covered all great TVCs of the 80’s.   It would be nice if readers pitch in as well which will take us back to those unpretentious days when sitting in front of the TV and watching ” Prannoy Roy’s – The World this week” was more exciting than today’s news that keeps “breaking” by the minute !

That brings to the end of this piece which looking back could have been titled Memoradilia  !!!