More khushi when there’s gham

31 Mar,2014


By Shobhana Nair


Advertising and marketing have always been in a happy state in India. It’s an emotion that combines joy and delight of consumers, thereby creating a happy environment for consumption.


Lloyd Mathias

Before going for a macho refrain, soft drink Thums Up had embraced its tagline of ‘Happy days are here again’ nearly four decades back. In fact as one brand manager told us, it’s an evergreen emotion and always works magic for a brand. “Happiness is a very positive emotion with most brands wanting to build messages around it as it is a primary emotion,” says Lloyd Mathias, director Green Bean Ventures who was head of marketing at Tata Docomo, Motorala and Pepsico India.


Indeed it is. From Thums Up to Domino’s Pizza with Khushiyon ki Home Delivery and from Khushiyon ki Planning at Max Life Insurance to Khushiyon ki Chaabi for Tata Nano and Khushiyon ka Khazana wali Maggi for Maggi, it’s khushi-ness all over. In fact the same line – Khushiyon ki Diwali – was used in the ads of brands Airtel and Asus.


The recent Coca-Cola campaign with Deepika Padukone and Farhan Akhtar talks about the little moments of happiness. The entire sequence of missing the bus, chasing it and boarding it. “It makes a lot of sense to be associated with a positive emotion. Products like beverages and food are consumed by people in a positive frame of mind,” reasons Mr Mathias. “Another commercial by Nestle about a family adopting a girl child and how the boy makes up with her over food is a good campaign. There’s a lot of joy in the food category.”


K V Sridhar

Khushi, when there’s Gham: Although happiness is an emotion that has been used by marketers for decades, in times of a slowdown and a liquidity crunch, it’s often the possible solution to keep buyers happy. Says K V ‘Pops’ Sridhar, Chief Creative Officer India subcontinent, Leo Burnett: “When society is depressed, it needs something which is optimistic or makes people happy. Unemployment, corruption, politicians, etc add to this state. Therefore, brands are showing optimism and presenting a picture that not everything is going wrong. Today, it has become important for big brands to not talk about the values their brands have, but the values that the brands will bring.”


Santosh Padhi

According to Santosh Padhi, Chief Creative Officer & Co-Founder, Taproot, happiness is an emotion that’s employed by most brands. “If I want to sell something, I would rather do it in a positive way. In general, brands talk positive unless it is a category like insurance where you need to make your point in a negative way where it gets hammered and more understood. Otherwise, life is all about positivity. Happiness is one part of it; humour is another. And then there is hope and simply being positive.”


Happiness is of course not a phenomenon that works only in India. It’s a global sentiment. Adds Mr Padhi: “In China, Pepsi released a big campaign on Happiness. There’s a man who’s offering happiness to people who are in need like education, shelter, umbrella, spectacles. Pepsi is running it for the past 20 years in China. So when Coke came a few years back with ‘Open Happiness’ as part of a global mandate, Pepsi China didn’t stop. In a huge market like China, two competitors are ‘doing’ happiness.”


The Coca-Cola brand launched the campaign internationally in 2009 – around the time of the slowdown – and the ongoing  Deepika-Akhtar commercial is a part of the five-year-old activity.


Bobby Pawar

Over-used concept: Says Bobby Pawar, Director and Chief Creative Officer, South Asia, Publicis Worldwide: “I think in tough times, brands want to hold out people to heart. Happiness has a gravitational point for that. But it is such a broad concept unless you try to find true meaning in it. ”


Mr Pawar believes not all advertisers are doing it right. “Happiness as a term is getting over-used. Coke has nailed it internationally. They do create happiness with their world machines,. Only Coke has got it right. Rest of them are like whatever.”


Anand Halve, brand consultant and a veteran ad professional and Co-Founder, Chlorophyll adds on to Pawar’s sentiment:  “Not only happiness, all emotions are being over-used. Brands have started to use this term that aapki zindagi badal jaayegi. Just look at the number of brands that use the word ‘life’. Brands should aim to do beyond just the functional thing. You have to be careful about not going overboard and sounding incredible.


“Coke is doing really well through Coke Studio. Music makes people happy and that to me is genuine happiness. Just hanging a line at the end of an ad doesn’t mean anything… agar mujhe khush karna hai toh, take me out for dinner…don’t just send a voucher,” says Mr Halve.


But Mr Mathias believes, happiness is here to stay. “It can never go out of style. It is a very basic emotion and in a typical day one has a lot of happy moments. It is very logical for brands to show people in a happy frame of mind especially categories like beverages or food which are driven by this. It is an important emotion to build your brand on.”


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