BIG BUCKS

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Want to break through the growing clutter of TV ads? Don’t just make ads; make larger than life ad films and spend the big bucks!

Nicole Kidman, is running gazelle like, being pursued by paparazzi in a cityscape lined with billboards bearing her image. She ducks into a taxi to escape and orders the driver to drive. Little does she realize a sultry Brazilian is seated beside her. Kidman escapes with him. He does not know who she is. She claims to be a dancer. After four days of a fairy tale like life, she realizes she can’t escape from reality and needs to go back. And so she does, leaving the Brazilian wistful, remembering only “her kiss, her smile, her perfume.” The film finishes with a one minute rolling of credits.

This film cost £18 million to produce. Its not a feature film… but a 180 seconds advert for Chanel’s No.5 perfume. The very same perfume which was made famous by Marilyn Monroe when she claimed that all she wore to bed was Chanel No.5. Today, however, with Britney’s perfume being the fastest selling one, Chanel No.5 is considered to be a scent you buy in the airport for your grandma for her birthday. Chanel needed a face lift and Nicole Kidman loved the concept, for the ad showcased her as the “most famous woman in the world.”

Is this the future of ad films? Many say yes. According to a survey done by TiVo about the TV commercials that get fast-forwarded the least, the ones with special effects featured a lot on this list , especially the ads of movies with special effects. No wonder then, ad films are getting slicker, more technically superior – and they are costing a lot.

If you need to keep the fingers of the viewers off the remote, you need to do a whole lot of interesting stuff. You can’t just make a good ad film. You need to make one which gets talked about and which people enjoy watching.

Way back in the early 90’s, Lehar Pepsi was launched in India. The ad featured Remo Fernandes and Juhi Chawla. It was a hit and became a much talked about ad, for this was the first of the Indian ads which touched the Rs.1 crore mark! Today, Rs.1 crore has become commonplace. Be it Happydent, Thums Up, Mahindra Scorpio, Fevicol, Pepsi Gold and a whole lot more advertisements that were shown last year – all cost about Rs.1 crore. If you want to be noticed you need to spend Rs.1 crore minimum.

Ad Films or Feature Films?

Today, the line of difference between ad films and feature films is thinning. More and more actors are replacing models in the ad films. More and more film directors are becoming ad film makers. Of course, the budgets are sky-rocketing – some times getting even bigger than the budgets of the feature films. In fact, with so much moolah involved in ad films, more & more feature film companies have started making ad films to earn quick bucks. Yash Raj Films, now has a Yash Raj Ad cell, which wrapped up 20 commercials for Dabur Chyawanprash & Hajmola with Amitabh Bachchan.

There is so much of advertising & so much of clutter. The easiest way to break through it is by using a celebrity & feature film makers have the easiest access to them. No wonder Videocon went to Santosh Sivan when they featured Shahrukh Khan in their ads. This is not a new trend; back in the 60’s, B. R. Chopra did the Lux soap ads, for it required film actresses.

One of the most expensive TV ads was of Apple Macintosh. It, too, was created by Ridley Scott who directed movies like Gladiator, Hannibal, Blade Runner, Alien et al. After all, a feature film’s fate is decided every Friday, while ad films – if good – have a much larger life.

Cost Consideration

You need people to notice your ad – you need to spend. When it comes to creating an impact, no one is doing cost calculations today. Brands are ready to go all out just so that you give them a second glance. ICICI didn’t hesitate to pay Big B Rs.10 crore, so that he could endorse their product. Coke and Pepsi for years have been using celebrities to keep their products on top. Other brands are learning this trick too.

To stay on top, you need very aggressive advertising. Ask Maruti, which lost some of its gloss and a virtual monopoly in the small car segment as other players entered the market.

Take the white goods market of refrigerators, washing machines, et al. With so many players in the market, if they don’t market & advertise aggressively, there would be a huge inventory pile up. No wonder companies like Samsung, LG, Phillips – all popular brand names – still advertise so heavily. Cost is no concern here. They would do almost anything to stand out.

Celebrities and Brand Wars

Yes, celebrities today are fighting it out for the brands. If Dena Bank roped in Juhi Chawla, then Bank of Rajasthan got the dream girl Hema Malini. Dabur, such a popular, old and trusted brand name of India, required Amitabh to help Chyawanprash fight aggressive players like Himalaya, Zandu etc.

Back in 2002, Pepsi agreed to pay the then pop princess Britney Spears $8 millions for two ads. Popular faces are helping to make brands become popular too – even if it costs the moon.

War with TiVo

Some years back, Nokia and Pepsi tied up with a leading television producer to make a unique show with no commercials. Instead, they said, the advertising message would be incorporated into the show. It shows how advertisers are getting anxious about the rise of personal video recorders like TiVo, which make it easy for viewers to skip commercials. As TV set manufacturers and cable companies are increasingly building such recorders directly into their equipment, advertisers are forced to find way to place their ads in such a way that they don’t get forwarded. As in the above example, Pepsi & Nokia are ready to shell out $1 million an hour to showcase their products/brand names on the TV show.

The Super Bowl’s allure has increased – thanks to TiVo. This is because Super Bowl is live and least affected by TiVo. It would be one of the few shows, which millions of Americans would watch without zipping through commercials. A 30 second spot could cost anywhere around $2.6 million! Nevertheless, companies are ready to pay. They would get a chance to show their best and most finely made ads – for people would actually be watching the ads for once. Those who would record the Super Bowl using TiVo would do so to forward the game & watch the ads in leisure.

Technology has made it a whole new world for advertisers. You need to create ads that are entertaining enough to get people to stop fast-forwarding. As Steve Pacheco of FedEx put it very correctly, “The ads now need to be designed knowing that they might be watched more closely, more than once and on different platforms. The ad now needs to stand up to being seen live, played back on a DVR, viewed over the web or even downloaded on an iPod.”

You need to make sure you give nothing but the best. Your ad needs to work harder and smarter now. It should not only deliver the message in a few seconds, but should be visually alluring too. Advertising is not just about creativity, it’s also about big bucks!