Quite unlike an ad…

25 Jul,2018


By Sanjeev Kotnala


When you don’t see the advertisement, you see a story unfolding before you.

Thank you, Whatsapp. Otherwise, I would have missed seeing this beautiful, touching piece of communication from Hyundai 20-year celebration in India. It ’s served on WhatsApp with a cleverly planted introduction that remains unchanged through lazy forwarders. ‘Almost every advertisement depends upon half-nude females to propagate the sale of products but just this one… It’s a class in itself. Hats off to Hyundai- what a fine advtt.”.

I agree the Hyundai ad is brilliant, and there are no half-clad females.

Jokes apart.

Hyundai’s 20-year celebration ‘Brilliant Moments with Hyundai’ idea is not new. Many brands have tried finding emotionally charged life stories. However, most have failed to get the right insights and stories or mucked it up in the presentation.

Hyundai ‘Army with Santro’ is a perfect example when the advertisement does not seem like one. It is an engrossing story. It is slightly exaggerated and dramatised, but that is acceptable.

The second film  ‘The deal with Accent’ is not as engrossing as ‘Army with Santro’. Something is missing. It seems stretched and somewhat unnatural. For me, it failed to touch me emotionally.

I hope the brand team and Innocean does justice to the selection of REAL life stories. The long format story telling is an art in itself. Remember once you commit to a format or a series, it becomes that tough to surpass the expectation. Some succeed and some fail. I am waiting to watch many more powerful stories brought to screen in future.

The Hyundai 20-year celebration communication is working with all car owners. There are instances and episodes of life getting refreshed in the memory box.

I never had a Hyundai car, and I don’t think Hyundai is interested to hear my story. However, that does not matter. While writing this, I remembered my first car Maruti Zen, which was a hand down office perk, my first and second Ikon, my Innova, my Mahindra SUV and now the Honda BRV. They were a part of my life.



While talking of advertisements that do not seem like an advertisement, I must talk of Google Reunion series.

Father-Son reunion by Google is not a new DVC, but it has a special place in my heart. My father passed away in September 1992. As with most of us, I too am full of memories. I will be lying if I said, I remember him every moment of my life. However, there are moments when his absence is felt very strongly. In those moments I miss him a lot.

No, my father never wanted to be a Bollywood hero. However, I know he would have been the happiest person with whatever I have achieved in life. In turn, my happiness too would have been amplified. I grew up in Jabalpur, and my mother lives there alone. She is rooted in the city. It seems, there is nothing that can make her move to Mumbai.

Today, if my father was alive, he would have been with us in Mumbai, even if my mother decided to remain in Jabalpur. That would have been a tricky situation and impossibility.

This Google Search DVC hits me on a very emotional level.

The whole search experience is smartly woven into the script.

Knowing it is a Google ad, you still engage in a different mindset.

It is more content than an advertisement.

The best advertising is one that does not feel like advertising.

This Google DVC (2016) and its previous avatar Indo-Pakistan Reunion (2013) were referred as one of the best product service integration. And I would tend to agree with it.

It’s the simplicity of the complicated situation that grips you as an audience. The highly charged emotions demand your attention.

In Indo-Pak reunion was about friends separated during partition living with a hope of meeting once before they die. Similarly, Father-son reunion DVC is an emotional cocktail. There is retirement, recalibrated aspirations and parent’s fixation with the small town. There is this uniquely friendly but unexplained relationship grownups have with their parents.

Search is not glorified here. It remains a conduit. The audience, empathise with search being a facilitator and not a magic wand. The Google search does not remain just a transactional service.

However, when the brand tried stretching the story, weaving in functional knots in a charged emotional tale, the equation changed. It missed the sensitive touch. The magic was lost. It is no surprise that the audience remembers Indo-Pak or Friends reunion but forgets fennel, Cricket or Anarkali from the same series.

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