Vikas Mehta on AdsonIPL21: Soft drinks category ads disappoint during IPL

07 Oct,2021

Vikas MehtaBy Vikas Mehta


As the IPL reaches the play off stage, the excitement has mounted about the final qualifiers and who will be the Top 2 teams as they get two shots at the final. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said about the ads on display during the IPL broadcast.


A good many of them are old repeats, some from the time when the IPL was abandoned in April, and the new ones are mostly tepid. Safe, using celebrities, repetitive, cliched. In a world where we are inundated with breaking news, competitive attitude, new product concepts, innovative use of technology, advertising is still stuck in the mire of preachy messages which fail to communicate. Just talk down to.


Take the example of the soft drinks category. Three brands which have in the past done some remarkable work, have showcased new campaigns during the IPL which are a pale shadow of themselves. Sprite specially was a disappointment. Looked like a Friday dressing ad by Allen Solly. A Friday drink? Thums Up has continued with its toofan wahi jo sab palat de thought, using Bumrah. But the execution is so predictable and tepid. For me though, the biggest disappointment was Coke. At a time when Coca-Cola globally has released an interesting “we are one coke away from each other” campaign based on gaming with a metaphor for world peace, the Coke India ad “Khud ko jaga, ek thandaa laga” was a literal interpretation of overcoming sloth. It seems to be regressive given the  classic tea brand “Jaago Re” campaign done almost a decade ago.


Whitehat Jr definitely is trying to establish some credibility by using Sonam Wangchuk. But for me it’s the credibility of Wangchuk that has taken a hit. An education reformer, endorsing six-year-olds to enrol for extra coaching? Doesn’t sound right. But the surprise was the book a free music class ad with Lucky Ali. Is Whitehat Junior getting out of its coding niche? And using Lucky Ali seems to be continuing with the Cred tradition of using “forgotten stars”.


From a pure marketing communication viewpoint, I did find the Oven Story ads intriguing. After a long time, someone is trying something new in the Pizza category. Less crust and more toppings claim was a good beginning but being able to order half pizzas is interesting. One may say that small pizzas are always an option but Oven Story which has been around for sometime, has definitely gained visibility with Semizza.


In the past I always admired the Amazon Great Indian Sale ads for they used interesting Indian insights. My favourite being the “free dhaniya” one. But now not only are they eminently forgettable but also invisible. What a let down! In contrast, the Flipkart Big Billion day ads featuring Amitabh, Virat etc with the “poora India karega flip” thought has at least a semblance of an idea.


It’s not just the quality of thinking and storytelling which is a let down during the IPL but even the quality of execution which is quite disastrous. My daughter pointed out that in one of the Homelane ads featuring Dhoni, one can see the head of someone standing behind the TV and also  hands at the bottom, one throwing objects for the protagonist to catch (purpotedly being thrown by Dhoni from the screen)!!!


Let’s just hope that the last week of IPL produces not just exciting cricket but equally interesting ads. After all the shraddh period ended yesterday and consumer buying festival season is now officially on.


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