Where have all the good ads gone?

The Cricket World Cup is no Superbowl as far as the quality of advertising is concerned but considering how many eyeballs the event attracts in India, one would think that we’d get at least a few attempts at creative brilliance. Sadly, ads-wise, this is probably the worst World Cup I can remember. Not only are the ads this time boring, they are often pedestrian and jarring. A lot of advertisers burnt their fingers (many their entire arms) when India crashed out of the world cup in 2007 early, and looks like they haven’t yet gathered the courage to jump back into the ring.

Indeed, cricket can be a double edged sword. Two recent anecdotes come to mind.

Almost the entire cast of the upcoming movie Dum Maro Dum was present for the South Africa vs India match in Nagpur last Saturday; purportedly to cheer India to a victory; but quite obviously to launch the audio and promote the movie. Not only was the match telecast across India, they also had a (literally) captive audience of 50,000 to market the life out of. All this would’ve been fine had India won, but India’s loss soured everyone’s mood and must’ve created a negative association with the movie.

Betting big bucks on individual cricketers can be risky too. Just a few days before the World Cup, huge billboards of Praveen Kumar promoting Nike, sprang up all over Bangalore.

Where have all the good ads gone? 1Where have all the good ads gone? 1

The man promptly injures himself and consquentially has to sit out of World Cup. What do Nike do? They replace every single billboard of Praveen Kumar with that of Sreesanth. You’ll agree that it was a desperate change - not necessarily for the better:

Where have all the good ads gone? 2Where have all the good ads gone? 2

But it gets worse. It so happens that in the 5 games that India has played so far, Sreesanth hasn’t been given a chance - not even as a substitue fielder. I am sure the marketing guns at Nike aren’t too chuffed.

Coke ads have usually been classy. I still remember this old campaign of theirs vividly:

Now compare this with the annoying tripe that has been played ad-nauseum during the World Cup this year (I’ll completely understand if you feel like plugging your ears):

Pepsi’s TV Spots have been border-line amusing this time, but their outdoor campaign involves plastering naked cricketers (their bodies painted) all over the city (and indeed all over their World Cup special edition bottles).

via ESNPNCricinfovia ESNPNCricinfo

That leaves us with mostly ads for cheap mobile phones and, yes, seeds (ask any cricket lover these days about Krishidhan seeds). Those companies will neither have the budgets to hire the O&Ms, nor will they risk anything that doesn’t communicate about their product very literally.

Perhaps the big spenders are holding their purses tight for the quarter finals stage. Or perhaps it’s the IPL they are all waiting for. For no matter who wins that tournament, the Indian cricket team doesn’t lose.

March 14, 2011