Idli,Vada,Bonda and Ad(a)!!!

One latent benefit of the IPL is the opportunity one gets to see a good repertoire of TV commercials as marketers “bet” 🙂 big time on IPL to gain a bigger wallet share of the consumer during the vacation time and the summer season.  To me it is a good time to catch up with what’s happening on the Indian advertising space.  And that’s how this IPL season I stumbled upon a trend and thought its worth sharing. This has been cooking up for a while. Take a look (click on the links to view the TVCs) at the following commercials which have been hitting us during time outs strategic or otherwise:

  1. This ad for CenterfruitThe setting is of a traditional restaurant in Tamil Nadu where the owner is conducting an interview for a waiter. The ad brings an instant smile in your lup lupaees oops lips!!  It’s a fact that like they say a Doctor’s most important qualification is to have a horrendous handwriting, the must-have skill for a waiter in Tamil Nadu is the ability to reel off the day’s menu in a jiffy.
  2. This heavily accented Hindi speaking Tamilian Murthy has been coming in on and off for some time now.  So there he is, again peddling the Voltas All weather AC as he keeps getting transferred in his job from Chirapunji to Kota to Mukteshwar to now Delhi!
  3. The general aversion of the South Indians towards playing Holi is quite well-known now. During this year’s Holi I saw this Idea TVC which captured this idea very well, I thought. (But does a Mallu son call his dad Appa???)
  4. In this ad for Nestle Munch, though the voice over is in chaste Hindi, one can make out that the setting is in Tamil Nadu with Balakrishnan as the character name, typical background score of the South,..,..
  5. Have you seen the latest Coca Cola commercial featuring Karan Johar’s “students of last year” – Alia Bhatt and Varun Dhawan ?  The ad shows a woman resembling clearly a mami (aunty) from the south and the locale again seems like Mylapore in Chennai. ( Couldn’t locate the video link )
  6. Also one cannot miss this old ad for Gulf oil featuring Dhoni being re-plugged during IPL where a heavily accented South Indian Driver chases his Chennai Super Kings Captain and Hero Dhoni to return his pillow!!!

And there were some more which appeared before:

  1. Havell’s ad film showing a Tambram family doing Homam (Havan)
  2. Finolex ad with a Rajnikant look alike
  3. Carrier AC commercial with Namboothiri as a character
  4. TVC for Parle Full toss with Bharatnatyam dancers in the backdrop
  5. An Ad featuring Kareena Kapoor for Mahindra scooter I think
  6. And the “Help a Child reach 5” film from Lifebuoy which went viral –


Now you might have realized where I’m coming from. South India ofcourse.   Suddenly I notice that the story behind ads of many products across categories/brands revolve around Tamil Nadu/Kerala/Karnataka/Andhra and Madrasis as people in Mumbai like to address.  Like I observed in one of my earlier blog post “The Punching of Bollywood” – After the big screen, I think it is now the turn of  the ad industry to wake up to the South Indian coffee!!!

 What could be the reasons for this “Kolaveri” (murderous rage) towards South oflate was my next look out:

  • The most logical, rational and straight forward is the “Market”, “Marketing” and “Economics” angle. Which is – that the growth in FMCG, Consumer durables categories in India is being driven more by South India oflate. This is due to the increased purchasing power fuelled by the Software boom and dollar inflows from NRIs.  So to tap into this boom, marketers would like to woo this creed more and more and hence the commercials reflect this strategy.
  • Second is the “Fresh Narrative” angle – For years, films, stories and TVCs were set in North India generally speaking. Caricaturing Punjabis, Sardars may be has become out of fashion and is sounding repetitive these days. The need for a fresh narrative is driving creative people down south.  Could be.
  • The third as per me is the “Kollywood” angle!!! For quite some time (may be till the mid 80’s) Tamil films were admonished for being loud, over the top with no style/content,… But with the advent of some classy film makers that perception changed and more and more South films started getting re-hashed in Hindi.  This exposure to the South Indian culture and life thro South Indian films and their popularity could be another reason for the ad people to venture to the South.
  • Last is the “Move over Bombay” angle – If you look at the origins of advertising industry in India, in the 60’s and 70s the profession was dominated by copywriters from Bombay (Da Cunhas, D’Souzas,..)  And then by people from other Metro cities like Delhi,… In the next wave, we had creative people emerging from the hinterland (Prasoon Pandey, Joshi,..)Though there were excellent copy writers in Chennai as well, they rarely broke into the National scene. However in the last 10 years we see the profession throwing up lot of talented copy writers and creative directors from the South. Balki, Sridhar, Rajeev Rao to just name a few.  Their work is not limited to South Indian brands. From English dominated copy to “Hinglish” copy to virtuous Hindi lines to now Tamil words thrown in liberally (for example Whistle podu, Poda,..,.. ) the narrative of the ads just follow the trend of the professionals dominating the industry.   It is but natural for any creative person to bring in sensibilities he is very conversant with, in his work whether it is art, music, stories, films or for that matter an ad.  Also with actual people from the South writing the lines and directing the artists, it is no more the Andhra type Hindi of Mehmood fame in Hindi films or the ads.

Well, the actual reason could be a combination of all the above.

So be prepared for an overdose of filter Kaapi, Idli, Kaanjivaram, Appadi Podu,..,.. in books, films, ads, songs, videos, tweets and what have you!!!

Post script: Oh, I missed “the only reason” for this trend and how could I?? And that is

“Rajini Sir”

After all HE is from the South. HE sets the agenda and the World follows. Period!!!


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  !!!