Monday, 11 January 2010

Not a very good idea

There’s a fundamental flaw with electric/electronic appliances being seen as eco-friendly. Batteries need power. And that energy doesn’t come cheap. Or easy. For every charge, there’s a fossil fuel being combusted somewhere. Nuclear energy isn’t yet feasible. Neither are windmills. Hydro has a problem, plus our rivers aren’t exactly swell. That leaves us with gas turbines that gobble up natural resources, emit exhausts, and basically be not on friendly terms with the environment. It’s a necessary evil, yes. It certainly isn’t the rosy, green, tree-lined, winding-road landscape that the electric car promises to ensure. No. Those batteries need even more charging. And they emit fumes too, invisible ones, but toxic nonetheless. So, for the desired consumer, it’s just a self-gratifying perception that what you can’t see, doesn’t pollute. Some thermodynamics engineer in a sweaty power plant is paying for those sins, not you.

Coming back to battery-operated mobiles saving the planet, now we have this.

Though it doesn't beat Walk & Talk in farfetchedness, it comes pretty close. The campaign started off pretty well, with surreal cheekiness (casteism) and believable CSR (literacy). But then the law of diminishing intelligence set in. And we got Walk & Talk, the 26/11, and so on. To the current one. Use mobiles. Save trees. This is clearly beyond plain overpromise-underdeliver.

Now, I'm a big fan of Balki's work. I like the fact that he snubs at snooty award-friendly creative, instead pushing for old-fashioned effectiveness. For me, his work for ICICI Prudential is still the archetype for insight-driven creative. In one word, brilliant. It's a school of thought that ought to be encouraged more vehemently than succumbing to cute/smart executions that mask the lack of story or research. (You know what I’m talking about, mr. moustached guy).

But here, with the ‘save-trees’ story, you’re just underwhelming your own strategy. All situations depicted can easily and efficiently replace the bloody phone for a laptop (except maybe the boarding pass thing). And these are all high-end phones. And for gastro’s sake, which darshini serves both Utthapam and Chicken Puff? Unless Thom’s buys over Adiga’s.

Bottom line. It’s ok to push your brand message. And ok-er to have a strategy with centipede-worthy legs. But the logic has to fall in place somewhere. If it’s not, then maybe it’s time to say good bye to both the positioning as well as AB Jr. The Sirjee has run his course; hire the big-headed cretins now, but give ‘em some screenplay this time.


mentalie said...

oooh, did you see the mustachio's ode to himself in the latest fevicol ad???

Flickering Cursor said...

@men: oh yes. another fart in the water. devoid of message or insight. made only for self-pleasure and award-blowing.

mnraj said...

One of the most abused words in the marketing dictionary is the word "strategy". It is easy to hide incompetence behind fancy terms

mentalie said...

no,'s just acute megalomania, that's all.

anand said...

i don't know why, but it worked for me. maybe because i was curious what idea they will pull out of the hat next. i bought the cause, also the larger-than-lifeness. i also liked the sheer audacity of pre-ped and post-ped. it worked like a sure-footed bollywood director doing a big song-and-dance film and doing it well. it is not pretentious, aimed at awards. if anything, it is cheesy and very tongue-in-cheek. it stood out and it stuck. and my guess is, it will do so with the general public.

Flickering Cursor said...

@anand. yeah i know it's the large-than-lifeness that works. and cheesiness too (like their earlier work). my issue was with the logical believability of the idea. while the casteism ad was surreal enough to suspend belief, this is not - in its desired effect.
of course this will stand out, and the masses will lap it up. and i love it just for the fact that it's not aimed at awards.
but the bottomline, mobiles saving trees, doesn't cut slack for me. not just for this product/ad. for anyone who uses electric and thinks he's eco-friendly... he's wrong.

Mumbai Paused said...

Ideas have a smaller shelf life these days. It's time to move on.

Flickering Cursor said...

@MP. hell yeah. mediocre ones shouldn't be on the shelf in the first place.