P&G’s Vicks published an ad three days back on 29th March 2017, and as I write this blog post, it has already crossed 2.5 million views. That could be the dream of every brand there is, and every advertiser there is – to create successful ads.
How the hell does one create successful ads as that?
Vicks tells a true story to demonstrate that motherly care is not restricted to biological ties. As a brand, Vicks is generally synonymous with “motherly care” and exploits this theme in their campaigns.
A young girl recollects her life journey on her way to boarding school. She tells viewers how she lost her mother when she was a little girl, how she was adopted by a woman and brought up with utmost care. Her mother now wants her to get the best education and become a doctor.
The story concludes with the revelation that the mother is actually a transgender woman! The film ends revealing the identity of the mother—a Mumbai-based transgender rights activist Gauri Sawant.
Here goes the ad.
The key point to be noted is, the ad does not advertise.
A far cry from the loud advertisements that trespass your time on various media.
A farther far cry from dumb brand videos screaming about features and benefits.
An even farther cry from “safe” approaches to brand campaigns that supervisors will readily sign off on.
An even more farther far cry from fake celebrity endorsements.
Create ads that don’t do what they are expected to do
And advertisements are expected to basically advertise. Loudly, clearly.
The guys from Publicis, an advertising agency based in Singapore, who made this Vicks ad must have sat down and decided that they should keep it subtle and not advertise.
They must have decided that their ‘ad’ should rather tell a gripping story that resonates with ad-hating consumers and evokes emotions in them. A story of human relations that includes emotions, drama, tragedy, suspense.
They must have decided to deviate from “safe” and “accepted” approaches, which is why they touched upon a sensitive subject such as transgender rights in India. It takes a great deal of guts to do a campaign that has a person from an ostracized community model for your brand than larger-than-life celebrities.
They must have decided that they will ignore the brand (yes, you read right, IGNORE THE BRAND), and focus on just telling the story. The brand identity is revealed as if an afterthought, only after the film is over, and lasts just a couple of slides.
And who knows, they must have faced their share of resistance from approval committees, unless the committee comprised a bunch of crazy marketers such as themselves, who are not afraid of getting their hands (or feet) dirty, treading the unknown path.
This ad that went crazily viral shows that to create successful ads, first stop doing this one thing – just stop advertising, not just for heaven’s sake, but also for brand’s sake.
Because advertising is actually counter-productive, and not advertising is actually beneficial, if you want to create successful ads to propagate the brand!