Unusual is the new normal in IPL 2022

28 Mar,2022



By Vikas Mehta


Vikas MehtaIt’s been an unusual 2022 so far. For Indian cricket. India lost a Test series in South Africa after an unusual first Test victory. Then we also lost the ODI series with an unusual 0-3 scoreline. Sri Lanka toured India after an unusually long interval and got beaten soundly. That I must confess was as usual. The women’s cricket team was unusually dumped out of the World Cup. But the most unusual thing has been that the IPL is happening in India and that too in front of some crowds. And the one constant or the usual is that I am back with my weekly column looking at the new ads released during IPL.


The first weekend has as usual resulted in Mumbai Indians losing their first match. And many new ads. As usual, most of them have been predictable, boring and ordinary. So rather than draw up a list of all such ads and pan them, which I usually do, I thought of doing something unusual. Let me look at one brand which has through the last two-three editions of IPL produced some memorable advertising and indeed been unusual in its approach.

Cred is a unicorn which has gained much more traction than any other new brand. With a reported revenue of around Rs 95 crore, the brand has reported a loss of about Rs 425 crore. Before you start saying that’s also unusual, let me point out that it is not, as most new age tech companies have a similar financial model. But what’s unusual about Cred is that a big chunk of its expense is towards traditional advertising. Which is not unusual as Cred has a clear grasp on its TG. Cred is talking to the credit card owners, and there are around 50 million credit cards issued in India. Most of these are the high net worth or the salaried senior management millennial. And these millennials have seen India changing in front of them. For them, India changed from Mother India to Miss World, India changed from we to I and India changed from a problem of few choices to a problem of plenty. And of course, India changed from Madhuri Dixit, Kumar Sanu, Bappi Lahiri to a new influencer every day.

So, the nostalgia of a yesteryear superstar caught on. Then came the nostalgia of some cricketing icons. The people who were fierce competitors but gentlemen in spirit. To unleash their hidden beast was almost like a what if situation. Imagine if Dravid was not unflappable or Srinath and Prasad were actually part of a boy band. And now comes the third stage of nostalgia for the same millennials. Old iconic ads being remembered with a twist. Nostalgia has been Cred’s secret success sauce and it has hit the nail on the head with the TG.


So enough of my pontificating. Did you notice the unusual Kamla Pasand ads? Why unusual? Because last year AB had very solemnly declared that he did not realise that the brand was doing surrogate advertising for a gutka or pan masala which is not good for health and now that he has been informed of the same, he is withdrawing from the campaign and returning the money to the company. I guess his cheque was postdated. For after eternity. Or is it the case of an unusual publicity stunt?


And did you see the Harsha Bhogle being tortured after being kidnapped ad for some Fantasy Akhada game? The ads have a “to be continued” at the end. I am not sure who is being tortured here. Harsha or us? Incidentally, the brand did try a PR stunt. It seems Harsha was being interviewed live from home on some digital channel when he disappeared with some audio of his alluding as if he has been surprised by intruders. It did go viral with lot of fans expressing concern. Harsha finally apologised for the stunt. Going viral by hook or crook, be it the KP way or the Harsha way is not unusual now. Hey, I meant Kamla Pasand not the political discourse you have been following.


It also looks like that a new Aamir Khan film is on its way. His usual PR machinery is on an overdrive with quite forgettable ads for PharmEasy and Vedantu.


I will of course have no comment on the unusual Jaguar bath plus light ad which featured fully clad people in living rooms sitting on a toilet or taking a shower. Please, let’s get back to some usual ads.


Vikas Mehta, a senior advertising professional, is now a strategy consultant and educator based in Dehradun. He has a considered, often contrarian view that we enjoy consuming (and contesting) on most things around him: cinema, cricket, advertising, politics and life in general. His views here are personal.


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