Melt | Most Enjoyable Ads Released During The Lockdown

melt, December 30, 2020

We bring you some of our favourite ad campaigns from India that stood out this year.

This episode is about celebrating and remembering some of the great campaigns that were made during these challenging times. Ads that made us look back and feel good – not just about ourselves, but also about rising up to the challenge, and about the Indian advertising industry. 

Let’s begin with a commercial that truly set the tone and inspired the industry to keep going even in times of unexpected change, limited resources and overwhelming challenges. ‘We Are One Family’, virtually directed by Prasoon Pandey, was one of the first few made-at-home ads to release during lockdown. Cutting across regions and languages, the film featured 12 iconic actors coming together to spread awareness about the importance of staying at home during the pandemic. The ad’s brilliantly conceptualized and executed. It not only uplifted viewers but also reminded the industry that no matter the restrictions, creativity can still shine through – a message that the advertising world needed to hear. This one’s an initiative, supported by Sony Pictures Networks and Kalyan Jewellers.

Next, we have two brands that produced advertising aimed to communicate a message of hope, optimism and resilience. This year, Asian Paints was one of the first few brands to release an ad featuring a montage of real home videos taken during the first lockdown. The brand revived their iconic ‘Har Ghar Kuch Kehta Hain’ campaign with a digital film that showed different ways in which families were spending time during quarantine. On the other hand, Nescafe India rolled out a film that showed young boys and girls seizing opportunities amid the challenges. Both these ads were uplifting and resonated with a lot of people…

We now take a look at advertising this year that held a mirror to society. Here we have brands that were quick to reflect the new normal in their campaigns. Leveraging their best icons like the pug and the ZooZoos, Vodafone India created a sense of familiarity and an instant connect with consumers in uncertain times. The ads spoke about relevant issues like fake news, social distancing and hygiene. KitKat also released a fun ad highlighting how a little break can give a fresh perspective during this ambiguous ‘new normal’. Meanwhile, Tanishq’s ‘Vignahartha’ ad was an ode to those who helped others to fight challenges during the pandemic. Similarly, ads by Ford India & Godrej Hit also reflected the new normal and changing times…  

The move to WFH brought with it the acceleration of adopting digital tools and techniques. Naturally, brands wanted to highlight products and services that helped do the same. WhatsApp’s ‘It’s Between You’ campaign captured how the app’s features can help replicate in-person conversations and bring people closer. Google, on the other hand, released an ad that tactfully leverages its entire ecosystem be it YouTube, Google Calendar or Google Maps and positions the Google Nest Mini as a tool for the entire family. Facebook’s Nayi Shuruaat campaign highlighted real stories of how small businesses moved online during the pandemic while Vodafone India’s ‘Friendship uninterrupted’ focused on how friendships can weather the challenges of the lockdown through video-calling and staying connected. All these ads show the power of technology and fit in wonderfully in this era of social distancing.

And then, there were campaigns that forced us to look at ourselves, and sought to comment about the new social realities that the challenging times brought. For instance, Brooke Bond Red Label’s ‘Swad Apnepan Ka’ ad showed the importance of being socially connected while physically distant. The ad stood out for speaking up about being kind and compassionate towards COVID-19 patients and warriors who are at the centre of stigma and ostracism. Axis Bank’s simple yet powerful ‘Reverse The Khata’ campaign urged India to support small businesses by paying them in advance for their services. Times of India also released a light-hearted spot that shows how the lives of Indians have changed since the pandemic broke out, or not.

A brand that did consistent work throughout the year was Cadbury India. It ticked off all the boxes by producing communication that didn’t just mirror society, but also pushed the envelope as far as innovation goes. Cadbury India first brought back its heartwarming jingle, ‘Kuch Khaas Hai’ in an ad featuring stories of people finding innovative ways to celebrate their special moments at home. It then thanked all the unsung heroes who had to go about their jobs during the difficult times, in its ‘Thank You’ campaign. And most recently, the brand released the ‘Not Just A Cadbury Ad’ – a first-of-its-kind, unconventional concept designed to support local businesses.

And then, there were films which showed how brave brands can be. Colgate released an ad featuring two elderly people who want to remarry and a supportive family who accepts the relationship. The link to the lockdown and how one needs to break out of traditional thinking, is well connected and helps us get past the sombreness of these times. Horlicks’ ad celebrates the courage and grit of a young girl who handles a difficult situation. From a mother driving a car to a daughter replacing the tyre, the ad breaks stereotypes on many levels and is really inspiring to watch. And finally, Titan watches’ Father’s Day ad that ends with an unpredictable twist. It is adorable and redefines fatherhood. In this set, all 3 brands were brave enough to create and present ideas in a fresh light.

Another example of a brave idea was the 13th Ki Tayyari outdoor campaign by Zee Entertainment Enterprises that brought together 6 different brands to get people hyped about the return of their daily soaps. Zee took an outdoor route by putting up hoardings stating #13thKiTayyariKijiye. Social media went abuzz with pictures of the ads and the suspense really helped in generating conversations. Zee also smartly approached brands that are often consumed while watching TV. In fact, sources tell us that the sales team at Zee also fielded a lot of calls from brand managers who wanted their brands featured!

We’d also like to highlight a PSA titled ‘Kaano Par Zimmedari’ that simply reminded us of the importance of wearing masks. The colourful video shows how each one of us — from different cities, different families, and different age groups — has a responsibility on their ‘ears’, ie. to wear a mask as they step out.