Anil Thakraney: How to make Diwali count

30 Oct,2012

By Anil Thakraney

Diwali is upon us and a whole lot of advertisers must be gearing up to make the most of India’s biggest festival. And for the next fortnight the media will be flooded with Diwali special ads and offers. All very fine, but there’s a small problem: Most advertisers and their agencies create the usual, predictable ads, very few try to either explore the cultural facets of the fest or dig into the various joys it brings to people’s lives.


Yesterday I reviewed the Tanishq Diwali ad in the Debrief section, where I felt that the advertiser had wonderfully synergized the festive mood with their own product. And this set me thinking. What must advertisers do to ensure they don’t end up with those stupid, generic ‘Happy Diwali’ ads? And headlines that scream the usual discounts and freebies? Is there some sort of a road map for making the most of this festival? Quite obviously there can’t be because this is a creative activity, so one gets limited only by one’s own imagination.


However, here are some things to look out for, and these are only a few pointers, there’s a lot more that can be done.


No advertiser ever attempts to use the key message of Diwali: The victory of good over evil. Are they worried about treading too close to religion? They don’t need to be, this can be handled in a religion-neutral way, because it’s the universal truth. I can visualize interesting work with this particular route.


Diwali is that time of the year when desi family members travel miles to be together. (This is the reason why airlines jack up their rates big-time.) And this leads to a lot of bonding/secrets sharing/new discoveries within the family. While Bollywood does exploit this, it’s rare to find it in advertising.


Some people gamble on Diwali night, it’s a cultural thingy. Again, this never finds place in our ads. Wonder why, when such engaging situations can be created using this as a backdrop.


Most people wear brand new clothes on the big night. Funnily, I have rarely witnessed anyone using this theme, not even fashion and accessory brands!


I can go on but I guess you get the drift. There’s no point releasing ads that look like clones of each other, no brand really benefits in the process. Diwali is a festival of many cultural hues, and it’s a great opportunity to associate one’s brand with them for effective advertising.




PS: Like many other James Bond fans, I too am eagerly awaiting the release of Skyfall, the latest in the Bond series. But we must look out for it for another reason: The movie has pushed the envelope on product placement, many big brands find their place in the film. Would be interesting to watch how they tackle this, because Bollywood invariably screws up product placement. Here’s more in The Guardian:




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