There is intellectual bankruptcy, moral bankruptcy, spiritual bankruptcy. I thought I would use my 70th post to rant about creative bankruptcy.
Way back when we had only Doordarshan by way of television entertainment, we eagerly waited for the commercials as much as the 'sponsored network programmes'. Some of the ads were so well crafted that I still remember their tag lines. Remember 'Neighbours' Envy, Owners' Pride' and the devil in Onida? Or 'If you have the inclination, we have the time' from HMT? My favourite was the Tata Steel ad with the tag line ' Ispat bhi hum banate hain' (we also make steel). The English versions had these sub tags like 'We make champions....we also make steel' and 'We make the nation's dreams come true....we also make steel'. Made me swell with pride for sure! I found the hindi version on youtube. Take a look:
Some of the commercials were not that great. But the jingles were very catchy. Here's the well known tune from Lifebouy:
What I'm getting at is that the product and the commercial were distinct. There was either a tag line or a jingle which you could immediately associate with the product. And it was total recall after that. Look at me, its been nearly 2 decades, and I still remember the ads with fondness.
These days, we have only sad excuses for commercials. It seems that creative juices among ad agencies have totally dried up. To the extent that the best they can come up with are stylised remixes of old Bollywood numbers. The worst offender is of course Coca Cola. The last 3 commercials they ran, all had rehashed, remixed Hindi songs. Here they are in no particular order:
The Diwali ad - song ripped off: Jaata Kahan Hai Diwane (Movie: CID)
The Invisible Bottle - song ripped off: Tum Jo Mil Gaye Ho (Movie: Hanste Zakham)
The Shadow ad - song ripped off: Aaj Ki Raat (Movie: Anamika)
The Brrr Commercial - song ripped off: Yeh Ladka Zara Sa (Movie: Love Story)
Not to put Coca Cola too much in the dock, here's another, from Moods Condoms. This one is really dreadful. The original from the movie Amar Prem is a Kishore Kumar classic. Rajesh Khanna brings out rueful disillusionment and acceptance of heartbreak so beautifully. And to use it in a condom ad?! Is there a correlation there?
Seriously! Is creativity dead? Back in my day - the pre mobile, pre internet and pre satellite tv days - we could put together better commercials in an event called 'Ad Zap' at college festivals! And we weren't even studying advertising.
Viewer / customer tastes have changed no doubt. And people's attention spans have shrunk. Maybe it is just that ad agencies think viewers' tastes have sunk so low that only some Bollywood connection can revive it. What a tragedy. Think of the joy of the Hamara Bajaj commercial and compare it to the hermaphrodite type model of the Aaj Ki Raat Coke commercial. Sigh! What a fall there has been my countrymen.
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