Was 2017 simply an extension of the creative trends of 2016, i.e., long format videos, socially relevant messaging and thrust of digital? Or did it have more to offer? We bring you the hits and misses of the year gone
In what can be called a fairly lacklustre year for creativity, 2017 saw some campaigns, which momentarily had our attention but failed to impress us in the long run. Ironically, this year saw India’s best ever performance at Cannes but neither did the industry manage to create a mass favourite like a Ambuja Cement’s Khali nor did we get a chance to collectively go ‘awww’ as in the case of Ariel ‘Share the Load’. However, like each year, we have made an attempt to incorporate all the talking points of the past 12 months.
Taking a leaf from 2016, the long format videos were much in vogue in 2017 too. Starting from Samsung Service ad which missed our 2016 list by a whisker because it was released in the last week of December just after we published IMPACT’s favourite ads for 2016; to the #LaughAtDeath campaign by Medulla Communications that features patients battling death performing stand-up comedy for their families and doctors which went viral for all the right reasons.
As Sanjay Gupta, CMO, Uber India says, “Creativity today comes in all durations. The 30 second commercial, once the holy grail of advertising, is clearly out of favour. Fit for feed is the new mantra and it was great to see creatives ranging from 6 second commercials to 2-minute lo form story-telling in 2017.”
Purpose-driven marketing campaigns using larger social causes took an altogether different meaning with path-breaking campaigns like Star Plus #NayiSoch which questions gender stereotypes that hold women back; as well as Vicks #TouchOfCare campaign on transgender rights which hits the nail right on the head. Also, content that is emotionally engaging continued to be the creative trend in 2017.
A slightly different view comes from Narayan Devanathan, Group Executive & Strategy Officer - Dentsu India and Vasudha Misra, ECD, BBH India. Misra says, “2017 seems to be the year of hardworking creatives. Work was more tactical than inspirational. Larger ideas were sacrificed for shorter duration and low budgets.” Devanathan adds, “This year was about feminism. I wish that brands go back to being proud of their advertising, and to selling the product, because in the last few years we have taken on this responsibility of saving the world.”
Another big change has been the willingness of brands to go beyond a mere 30 second ad, as content is becoming more important than the creative, considering that it may not be able to sustain consumers for long based on only the one campaign. So one needs to get the content right on social as well as other media where the brands are connecting with the consumer. Elaborating on that, Navin Khemka, Managing Partner, Wavemaker, says, “Look at how Paytm is connecting with consumers. They know that the 30 second ad or full page print ad is only going to get them the consumer’s attention for the first two-three hours in the morning. Beyond that they are connecting with the consumer in the right way, through the right content, messaging, notification on their app, vendor support, etc., which is really giving the business a lift. Otherwise, the consumer is flooded with so much of fragmented communication, that they just lose the message. You have to be with them during the moment of truth.”
Meanwhile, Shreekant Srinivasan, General Manager, BBH India, says, “The 10-20 second formats on Television today serve as trailers to lead people on to the digital platform, where a long story resides. Secondly, people are today paying money to not see advertising which is why platforms like Netflix and Amazon Prime are booming. So, I see the role of television changing at two levels.”
Another big change according to experts is the way the Government has approached advertising this year. Varun Goswami, ECD, Grey Group explains, “There is such a trajectory on creativity when it comes to government campaigns, the shift is spectacular. Take the example of defence recruitment ads, today the imagery matches the cinema we have grown up on, such as Top Gun. Also, if you look at campaigns like ‘Swachh Bharat’, or ‘Beti Bachao’, these are all government initiatives, but the work doesn’t look like what we used to call the stereotypical government work. It isn’t necessarily celebritydriven or politician-driven. There are themes and insights that you and I could connect to. Their work looks like the work that a brand would do if they were operating in that space. So, it looks modern and thought through.”
Talking about what the industry missed watching this year, Dheeraj Sinha, Chief Strategy Officer, Leo Burnett says, “The Telecom sector would typically churn out a mega campaign or a mega winner each year. That was a kind of let down considering that Telecom has been the narrative builder for advertising for many years. But e-commerce made up for that, in fact I would say e-commerce is the new Telecom for the industry.”
But one can’t discount the fact that it has been a fairly difficult year for advertising, with demonetization and GST wreaking havoc in considerable measure. Talking about whether there will be a spillover effect on the coming year, Amer Jaleel, Chairman and CCO, Mullen Lintas says, “After the hesitancy and watchfulness of 2017, it is likely that marketing and media will flood over and compensate with decision-making and signing off on all the initiatives that looked like they were only waiting for the calendar leaf to turn over.”
WHAT THE INDUSTRY LOVED ABOUT 2017
CEO, J. Walter Thompson, South Asia
I love the Jammu and Kashmir Tourism ad because it goes to the heart of the business we are in: of communicating by telling simple, yet powerful stories and delivering them through meticulous execution. I met so many people who told me that they had tears in their eyes when they saw the film. The J&K Chief Minister, I believe, debuted on Twitter with this film. Another favourite is ‘My Daughter Will’ which asked a much-needed question: ‘Why can’t daughters light the funeral pyre of their parents? We started a movement with this campaign and I am really proud of it.’
Chief Creative Officer, L&K Saatchi & Saatchi
The three ads that have stood out for me this year have been done across brands that would make my top three in any year! Consistency of vision and creative thought leadership will always win over all else for me. The first one is Tanishq: #ForYouMom. It’s a beautifully crafted story of two very real women, sharing a very real relationship. The other two are the ‘Asha-Bala Vodafone Reprieve: International Roaming Ready?’ and Pampers #ItTakes2 where the latter gets men to rethink their current behaviour without pointing accusatory fingers at them.
Co-Founder and Content Chief, The Glitch
My three picks are Suede Gully which might seem obvious but this piece by Puma truly captured popular culture seamlessly while making the brand a core part of it. To call it an ad or a music video doesn’t do it justice. Second is Wagga Wagga oil just for the freshness of the idea/ script and narrative, this deserves a mention. And the last is Kaki Kartel- Netflix. For international brands, localization is such a key aspect of connecting with consumers in building relatability, especially with differentiated pieces like Narcos for Netflix. This film is an awesome example of just that.
Chairman and CCO, Mullen Lintas
2017 saw newer executions of genres that were born, say, five years ago. There were more social experiments, more long-format stories, more social-impact tearjerkers. It is a continuing trend rather than a new one. Some of the work that stood out for me, was genre-defining when I saw it and what has stayed with me ever since - Chonpur Cheetahs by Amazon, for contextual laterality, MakeMyTrip for pushing celeb characterization and HSBC story of human ambition for eking out nuances from what looked like a dead-end campaign.
Chief Strategy Officer, Leo Burnett, South Asia
Let me start with Roads That Honk for HP as this piece of work solves a real problem on the ground rather than just talk about it. The second one is Suede Gully by Puma. It breaks the traditional advertising format, is beautifully executed and brings out the creativity and diversity of new India and strongly links to the DNA of the brand. The third one is Last Laugh by the Indian Association of Palliative Care. It is poignant as the idea is about laughing in the face of death. Unlike most communication in this space, it doesn’t intend to invoke a sense of pity, instead leaves you with a sense of positivity about life.
CEO, Ogilvy & Mather India
The best ads of the year for me are obviously from Ogilvy India. The first one has to be the Vodafone campaign that ran through the IPL, the old couple that we all fell in love with, experiencing data and having great fun with it. The second would be the Star Plus Gurdeep Singh & Daughters ad. It was a beautiful piece of work and really touched my heart. Our Savlon handwash work comes next - the chalk campaign, i.e., hand wash seeped into chalk. So, when kids write with chalk and then wash their hands, they are clean. Again, a really nice piece of work. Lastly, the CEAT Tyres campaign was really outstanding work which ran through the IPL.
Founding Partner and CEO, The Social Street
I loved Levi’s ‘Circles’, Airtel’s ‘India’s Fastest Mobile Network’, the Durex Jeans ad featuring Ranveer Singh, which describes a girl’s and guy’s perspectives - a beautifully done ad in terms of product delivery and insights. Then there is the Vicks #TouchOfCare campaign featuring the transgender mother and lastly Star India’s #NayiSoch.
Chief Digital Officer, Mindshare
One of the most revolutionary launches within Finance category was the Aditya Birla Capital launch, where they are bringing almost 13 lines of business under one identity. Then there was Mirinda - Release the Pressure, where Mirinda helped students facing a slew of parental pressures related to exams, convey to their parents what they were going through. The Star #NayiSoch campaign - starting with mother and moving on to daughters on Women’s Day, #AndDaughters with Aamir Khan. And lastly, Motorola Vogon ad to showcase mods. Multiple creative sets were made on the basis of the topicality of search to showcase the mod. For example, if you search for music, the YT ad for sound booster will run.
Managing Partner, Wavemaker India
My top pick is definitely the ‘Shot on iPhone’ campaign because it was all about using user-generated content and interestingly, the pictures look so professional. Second has to be my all time favourite - the Amul campaigns. This year too, they came up with fabulous stuff. Even Shashi Tharoor acknowledged the fact that he was featured in the Amul ad and thanked Amul for it. So, it has become an iconic thing to be a part of the Amul creative. Lastly, I loved the #NayiSoch series by Star Plus. The campaign stirs a lot of emotions.
Group Executive & Strategy Officer - Dentsu India
I like the Amazon campaign even though they keep changing their tagline. It hasn’t mattered to them as they have been doing two things right after all India is not about one insight, so nothing wrong in moving from one insight to another. Also Amazon has a very powerful way of embedding themselves in the culture. Then there is the AMFI ad promoting mutual funds with the tagline – Sahi hai. It’s one of the most insightful and well executed campaigns. The last one is a campaign by Webchutney Bangalore for Furlenco. They showed a matrimonial ad featuring a sofa. It was called ‘#PriyaWedsSofa’.
Chief Operating Officer, BTVI
Amazon India’s series of commercials under #ApniDukaan which addressed the inhibitions of Indian consumers against shopping online to the Star Plus -Nayi Soch commercial which generated lot of conversations around gender stereotypes... Both Jio- Dhan Dhana Dhan and Baahubali 2 campaigns had a definitive impact on their respective category consumption. While these are TVCs, I think the cover page of TIME Person of The Year with a picture of the leading women behind #MeToo campaign which stormed the world, is a very influential piece of communication.
WHAT MARKETERS LIKED
Head of Marketing, India – Uber
Good creative is personal. It makes you look at the product, service, your life and world differently. For me, 2017 was a year where creative was far more personalized. Some of this was forced due to the digitization of media, but some of it was also because the creative world chose to tell personal stories. This year was also all about getting to know my two-year-old daughter, and my favourite commercials are biased by this theme. So the first one has to be the Uber- Koi na ad. Then comes the Savlon Chalk Stick campaign, which is a great example of task unification and solves a real issue.
Chief Marketing Officer, Kokuyo Camlin
One great TV ad of 2017 was Surf Excel continuing with ‘Daag achhe hain’ where the insight of accepting failure is well executed. Great brands don’t change their positioning and build on the creative strategy every year. Similarly, another great ad was for Saregama Caravan where a gift product for elderly people is communicated well by a powerful and emotional story. Lastly, this year’s KBC campaign beautifully depicts various slice of life situations where individuals are bogged down by difficult questions of life and their only hope is to change their destiny with the power of knowledge.
Chief Sales & Marketing Officer, Hamdard
My favourite ad for 2017 is LG - Astronaut. It is a beautiful story set in small town India, where a difficultto-achieve career option becomes possible for a little girl thanks to sheer grit and her mother’s sacrifices. LG TV is beautifully interspersed in the story to create a moving and insightful brand alignment. Another favourite ad is Gionee’s Selfiestan featuring Alia Bhatt. Love this ad for its sheer vibrancy and Alia’s brilliant energy and moves. It creates instant stickiness with its whole attitude. Very youth, very now.
CHAITANYA RELE VP
Marketing - Havmor Ice Cream Ltd
The ad I love the most is the Vicks #TouchOfCare campaign which was a really authentic story and beautifully made too. Then the Vodafone films which played on the idea of using technology and the elderly was superb. I can totally relate it to my grandfather. And the last one for me was the Havells ad - a tiger versus a fire dragon; the best part is that they didn’t take themselves too seriously!
CMO, Bharti AXA Life Insurance
I liked the Byju’s ad featuring Shah Rukh Khan; the brand romanticizes the concept of studying and education. It’s a lovely fit for SRK to be there - romance king helps romanticize education! I also liked the Amazon ‘apni dukaan’ campaign. The highlight is the Indianization of a global brand, because that is one big barrier that most MNCs come across and ‘apni dukaan’ is a very Indian expression. Lastly, I really liked the latest campaign by Indo Star.
10 ADS THAT GRABBED EYEBALLS
Some ads from the year 2017 would have made you laugh or cry, others made you sit up in shock, seethe in anger or just fall in love. IMPACT presents the 10 best Digital and Television ads of 2017 that are a cut above the rest
SOME ADS THAT FACED THE HEAT
ZOMATO, NO CUSSING PLEASE!
Cheekiness comes at a price, and Zomato learnt it the hard way when its Outdoor campaign received a severe backlash for a misogynistic innuendo that didn’t go down too well on social media. Left as red-faced as its banner, Zomato pulled down the hoarding within 24 hours and also issued an apology for it, however not letting go of the cheek.
SUHEL SETH @suhelseth
Shame on you @ZomatoIN ! Absolutely shameful what you’ve attempted to do. Your investors should be sickened by your behaviour! @smritiirani : this is outrageous. @ascionline
ANU SEHGAL @anusehgal
When you hire a delhi guy as Creative head.
PRADEEP DWIVEDI @PRADEEPDWIVEDI
@Zomato Pretty cheeky but low ball campaign.. this is not chutzpah.. this is Idiotic and sanctifying an expletive used commonly but never with intent of interpretation!! Sad what one does to be noticed !! #BeBetter
ZOMATO INDIA @ZOMATOIN
Here’s the new ad we’re rolling out to replace our old one (along with a promo code to acknowledge that we’ve learned a lesson)
YOUR ICE-CREAM AIN’T REAL!
Amul and HUL clashed head-on with the latter dragging Amul to court for calling its Kwality Wall’s ice cream ‘frozen dessert made from vegetable oil’. The Bombay High Court went to the extent of pulling down Amul’s ice cream commercials for maligning the products of a rival brand.
LAKSHMI A @LakshmiAjay1
Mumbai HC refuses to grant interim stay to HUL against #Amul icecream ads.Amul tocontinue with our frozen dessert campaign-GCMMF MD-RS Sodhi
“frozen desserts” are masquerading as ice cream. differentiate a Real Ice Cream and Frozen Dessert by it’s pack #Amul #MilkIceCream
After all, #AmulIceCream had to tout their big win! :-) Give me ice cream any day over those frozen desserts
NOT HAVING A BAD HAIR DAY
Celebrity hairstylist Jawed Habib aroused the ire of many on social media for his ad showcasing Goddess Durga as a customer at his salon in an animated Print ad. The ad showed the Goddess along with her children, Kartik, Lakshmi, Saraswati and Ganesh unwinding at a Jawed Habib salon. Habib took it upon himself to publicly apologise and pulled down the ad immediately.
Jawed Habib @JH_JawedHabib
Dear all, we respect your sentiments and we apologize sincerely. It was not to hurt you at all.
DurgaPuja in #Kolkata is to do with a feeling of community, not communalism. You do not need to apologise.
Nayan Agasty @nayan1947
#JawedHabib played with religious sentiment
NO MAN’S KIND TO ‘MANFORCE’
Mankind put up banners across Gujarat that had Sunny Leone advertising Manforce condoms that mentions Navratri in its tagline. The ad, however, received such fierce backlash that the condom brand was forced to pull it down and tender an apology for the same.
Manforce Condoms @ManforceIndia
Navratra Hoardings Campaign was not meant to hurt anyone’s sentiments & was immediately withdrawn. We deeply regret any such incident.
Kumar Gautam @Kumargautamkg
One should appreciate #Manforce rather than being critical abt advertisement. Cut Hypocrisy #Gujrat #Dandiya #Garba #Navratri #SexEducation
People have sex when they get a chance. It doesn’t have to be Navratri. Promoting business in the name of awareness is shameful. #Manforce
@SunnyLeone whats all the fuss about #SunnyLeone and #Manforce condoms and #Navratri