Best Brand Acts 2010.



Most of the enlightened brands today stopped doing “Ads” and started doing “Acts”, Ads usually chest thump about how good they are and propagate their superiority in all media channels. Acts on the other hand are the deeds brands do in public domains and are neutral to paid media channels or they put up their act in real life rather than communicate through paid mediums.

Brands today try to behave in a selfless manner and propagate certain values to emotionally connect with like-minded people, like Tata tea never asks you to buy its branded tea instead urges you to be awakened to the responsibilities of a citizen. This action or the behavior of a brand makes you want to connect and live alongside.

Human like behavior of a brand is what Leo Burnett terms as “HumanKind Brand”, brands are trying to find its purpose of existence in people’s lives so that they can play a meaningful role and become a part.

Thus to make this journey possible brands can’t fake things as fake friends are not difficult to spot, they need to be honest and earnest therefore they must “Act” the way they promise.

Now you know the power of ‘Acts” here are some powerful and earnest “Acts” put-up by Indian Brands in 2010:


Gillette “Shave India movement”- by women against lazy stubble.

Women prefer “clean-shaven men” is a universal truth. Men are dumb and they never get it, they all want to look macho by sporting a stubble. This insight had led to an inspired “Act” of “Shave India Movement”

Around November last year “Shave India movement”- by women against lazy stubble was announced and launched by sexy sirens of Bollywood: Neha Dhupia, Manisha Lamba and Mugdha Godse forcing men to get shaved, thousands of women joined soon in the protest against men with stubble. Television and social media transmitted the idea like wildfire, soon shaving camps were organized, media started ridiculing men with stubble forcing them to shave, in the midst of all this Gillette launched its cheaper Mach-3 razor for 125 rupees.

Bravo BBDO, Mediacom and Proctor & Gamble!

Hippo “Crowd Sourcing” on twitter.

Creativeland Asia and Parle Agro had an innovative solution for a complex distribution problem, they appealed to the tweeters to report to them if they have not found “Hippo” in the neighborhood shop and promised to make it available in an hour’s time. Curious tweeters reported and participated in the drill actively making the brand more fun and inclusive.

This cleaver “Act” not just saved the brand’s distribution or inventory problem but also created a bond with the consumers and made a statement to the young social media audience how innovative, young and agile they are!


“Aman ki Asha” an Initiative by Times of India & Jung Group Pakistan.

What can one say to an ‘Act” like this? Mahatma Gandhi would have been proud. Two nations have been fighting bitter wars since 1947 while the majority of the people in both the nations want to live in peace and harmony. Two huge newspapers take plunge of propagating peace in the midst of terror and distrust. Teachers, artist, businessmen, filmmakers, intellectuals, poets, actors, scientist and commoners all came together to exchange ideas and peace messages.

This “Act” I believe had re-kindled the love and affection this two nations once shared.


Virgin Mobile: “Indian Panga League”

When you want to be young and happening what do you do?  Simple. You behave like one. Virgin had a choice of hiring a lesser cricketing star and do a conventional 30 seconds spot or think little different. They chose to do the later and took the trouble of going the extra mile by behaving little “hutke”.

Indian Panga League is launched for the IPL session-3 is a complete digital campaign with 100 viral films on YouTube and the website, allowing young fans to take friendly pangas with their buddies supporting rival teams, this generated huge participation on the micro site over 1 million visitors, 500,000 views on YouTube and 3000 fans on Facebook. Bates and Virgin’s choice proved to be the right one, young janta went berserk.

Gandhiji Font.

To commemorate Mahatma Gandhi’s 141 birthday, Leo Burnett had decided to create a special font designed from his iconic spectacles to enable a young nation to see Mahatma’s vision. This “Act” will take wings, once the ambitious project get into top gear by launching the font in all 16 Indian languages, currently Devnagari, English, Marathi and Telugu are available awaiting for a symbolic gesture of dedicating to the nation by The Government of India.

The ambition of this project is to make mahatma’s vision relevant to younger generation especially by using digital space to connect.

In the land of Mahatma Gandhi the “Act of Acts” is no new discovery, the symbolic “Salt Production” was an “Act” to bring behavioral change, so is non-co-operative movement. Imagine Bapu trying to explain the significance of freedom in a long copy ad than to a metaphoric act of salt making”

Real time Creativity.


World is changing every nano second. Internet made it possible to live live. Every word you utter can spread like wildfire. Recently a tweet forced a minister resign, it takes few seconds to trend globally.

The original real-time communication was word of mouth. Religion used this form to perfection and then the kings; in the modern-day with Internet it became viral and buzz marketing. Now live is the name of the game live news in the aircrafts, live tweets from the space, live television on the mobile phones, live web cams stream videos from 2940 cities across the world from 4835 cams.

What can one possibly do with this live world today apart from tweeting and chatting? Leo Burnett Chicago came up with a creative idea: They created “David on Demand” . First ever Internet controlled human being. Take a look at the video:

We all have been talking about social media and how could one leverage this for building brands? There were theories about the possibilities but no cases to demonstrate until last year when Crispin Porter & Bogusky came up with this Cannes titanium winning idea, check the video:

Creativity has the power to change the way we consume the new technologies, above cases are shinning examples of how imaginatively one can use the Internet video streaming and twitter.

StorySelling.


Dream Merchants to storysellers, advertising creatives made the distance. As television gained popularity, it took little time to realize that viewers are interested in entertainment and not messages. This reinvention has its inspirations drawn from the human history, a simple insight of humans being exploited by religious preachers,  travellers, wise men and grand parents: People are interested in stories than preachings, events or even morals.

Epics like “Ramayan” or even “Panchatantra” amply demonstrate the apetite for stories. Take bedtime stories for example, when a kid does something wrong we wait till its bedtime to narrate a moral story. Good moral stories are like a homeopathic pills, while the sugar coating is entertainment and medicine is the moral. This enlightenment of short Panchatantra type moral stories lead to powerful 60 seconds stories in advertising.

Here is one such advertising story I love the most, This story was written by Agnello Dias while he was with Leo Burnett six years ago. Agnello has always been a story teller but he seldom used the skills in television, this time around my nagging and pushing him has resulted in this epic story for Times of India.

When DNA launched its paper in Mumbai, Times of India wanted to reiterate the paper’s rich and long association with the country, with a brief like that, one would have fallen into dramatizing rich historic events, but Agnello came up with a brilliant observation about news papers, that they bring-in good and bad news with the same emotions. True. Look at the classified columns, you’ll see an obituary ad next to celebrating birth of a child ad. These observations lead Agnello to write story of this newspaper delivering good and bad news to the same family.

Finally it’s all about telling a great story in the simplest manner with a great insight or an observation thrown in. Whether you are writing a novel, short story, feature film or even  a 60 second spot, the rules are the same: set up a conflict and resolve them in an inspiring way.

No wonder we still love homeopathic pills.

“Bollywood the ugly caterpillar.”


Bollywood is going through a metamorphosis, what dominated in sixties was emotional melodramas and patriotic themes to seventies restlessness for social justices lead to the creation of “angry young-man” and eighties saw the emergence of romance  and optimism with new parallel cinema thrown in. Nineties saw the global settings of Bollywood reflecting the success of Indians abroad and Bollywood started setting stories rather than songs abroad. And last decade dominated by Khans and KJo ( Karan Johar) took Bollywood stories to aspirations of living the dreams in an escapist land. Reality took a nose dive, it was all about Indian sentiments set in designer ware.

Thanks to multiplex revolution in urban India, cinema took a serious U turn, powered by younger and more saner breed wanting to take Bollywood out of long hibernation. After Ray’s and Benegal’s and Marchant’s and Jabwalla’s India cinema virtually went into an hibernation till “Lagan” came along.

Today after “Udan” and “Peepli Live” one can say that the ugly caterpillar is morphing into a beautiful butterfly.