Sunday, June 08, 2008

BBF: Ad critique 3 : Building Material

The third installment of my ad critique column that appeared on the June 2008 issue of the Bangladesh Brand Forum magazine.

Off the bat I must apologies to Amitabh Reza for saying in last month’s review, that he produced the Banglalink Desh 3 TVC. I was wrong. He is wise enough not to repeat the same mistake thrice. The dubious distinction for that ad belongs to Kislu. Thanks to all who pointed out this error on my part. Also for all those emails and sms’ telling me what you thought of the critique. I believe conversations like this can go on to make better ads. Keep your comments coming. So on to the new month.

One of the most difficult and unsexy product to advertise is building material. Especially since most of the brands competing are very similar in its composition. What can one say about cement that hasn’t been said? And rods that go behind the cement that can’t even be seen. Can we make consumers stand up and take notice? PHP glass was one of the first to attempt that in Bangladesh. Quite successfully I thought. Their competition Nasir Glass also started off well. (Though don’t get me started with the new set of ads that they have on now). Well the two brands I review this month do attempt to brand a commodity. A very difficult and unenviable job indeed.

We had participated in the pitch to win this business along with the Agency that eventually won the account – Unitrend. As the campaign rolls out, I see that they did a better job than we had proposed. To begin with, I like the logo they have created for a company that has a long history and heritage. The three interlocking rings give a reassuring feeling of strength. And I love the static executions - Helmet and Lock made out of reinforced steel rods. At one look you understand what they are talking about and does not need any copy to explain anything.

They also went on to make two TVCs. The first one highlights the fact that the company has been in the country for a long time and have been a part of the evolution of the nation. The second TVC is a forward-looking appeal to build a nation and launches the new Extreme steel rods (I guess) formally. Two very strong ideas. At the same time they build on heritage while picking up on the nation-building mood that is waiting to bubble over.

As far as executions go, I thought the launch ad was weak in many areas. A TVC of this magnitude should have been better produced. Though the idea was strong, I believe the execution let it down. I had to see it a few times before I figured out what they were talking about. The story line was week and the computer graphics had much to be desired. The worse part of it was the music track. It didn’t have the empathy that visuals tried to convey. Often when producing commercials, we focus on the visuals and forget that audio is an integral part of the viewing experience.

The second TVC did the opposite. It has a super music direction. However the song needed to have more oomph in it. Needed to have the urgency of Nazrul’s “chal chal chal”. The current lyric, when I spent time trying to listen to it, was really motivating. But one needed to make an effort to figure it out. I am afraid the consumer will not give you that luxury.

Gazi Shubhro, who made the TVC, is one of the stars in the production business today. I liked the gritty feel and fast paced editing. Though near the end it fell through. A little bit more production value, specially in regards to computer graphics, would have taken the TVC to a greater height.

Unfortunately where this TVC came short was, that it was supposed to launch the Extreme brand (sub brand). While I must applaud and acknowledge the client’s realisation that even 
a product like steel rods need branding, as a consumer I am still not sure what this brand stands for and if it is any different from any other products BSRM or its competitions have. My wager for the month is that consumers will ask for BSRM and not remember the Extreme name at all.

End of the day I think the Agency overall did a good job. It will get the desired impact of making the BSRM name more familiar not only to people wanting to buy the steel product, but also to those potential investors when this company floats their IPO in a few months.

On production value for TVC 1 I’ll give it a 4 on 10 - it could have been so much better. On idea, a 5. On production for TVC 2 I’ll give it a 6. On idea a 6. Overall: Campaign 6.

Crown Cement:
I must say I didn’t get the floating building on a boat idea. But over all, it is very creatively done and a welcome break from the cement ads we see with buildings coming up. I enjoyed the fact that the compulsory song and dance routine so common in cement ads was missing. The
 message was so simple. Crown makes earthquake resistant cement that is being exported and consumers are justified in spending a premium. The “talk into the camera” style was very refreshing, and the acting of the man, super. I believe that this TVC will do well for the company. I am not sure which agency or producer is responsible for it, but my hats off to them. And to the client, for being brave enough to take a gamble on such a “risky” idea.

I must mention here two other ads. One from a few years back – 
Premier Cement. It scored very high on my WIDTOI (Why I didn’t think of it) scale. I am sure all of you remember it well. It was the ad which had shots of people across the nation (From Tetulia to Teknaf) at times holding hands and a very catchy jingle going on saying everyone has this desire to own a house. (Shamnay, pichonay jara; odero shopno achay; uporay nichay jara; odero shopno achay) Its insight was so strong. Everyone has a desire to build and Premier Cement allows you to do that.

And the other is the set of Seven Ring Cement ads that are on TV now. 
The latter, I think, will go down as a case history in Bangladeshi brand building. That is, when they teach about how to kill a brand in one easy step! What a complete let down.

For the Crown Cement TVC, on production value I’ll give it a 7 on 10. (Must have spent a bundle on getting those boats in place). On idea a 6. Overall: my highest till date – 7.

Nazim Farhan Choudhury is a busybody at large with Adcomm Limited. He has over 14 years experience of pretending to be an advertising man. To his utter surprise he even succeeds fooling some people some of the time. His greatest fear now being that after reading these writings he will be exposed. You can as usual send angry emails to him at or visit his blog Or send over fat envelopes filled with greenbacks for great reviews next time!

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