Wednesday, May 14, 2008

BBF: Ad critique 2 : Telecom Ads

The second installment of my ad critique that appeared on the May 2008 issue of the Bangladesh Brand Forum magazine
Errata: I have wrongly said that Amitabh Reza produced the Banglalink Desh 3 ad. He did the first two. This one was Kislu's work. Sorry!

A lot is happening in the mobile telecom advertising world recently. After a dull year it seems most of the players are back in action. For this month’s review I thought it would be interesting to see what the various communication are looking like.

grameenphone: well before I start of, a disclaimer. My agency was fired by grameenphone this month. It seems after a year or two of dabbling with various agencies handling different segments, the company has decided to consolidate most of its work at one place. Grey is the beneficiary of this move. And they have just started rolling out the new campaign – “Stay Close”.

A very powerful insight indeed. Why else would one carry a phone but to connect? It is amongst the most basic of the function of category. But the question that arises in my mind, is it good enough to bring in new customers to grameenphone? Is that the customers are looking for? Of course the advertisings are just rolling out so it is a bit presumptuous of me start guessing the purpose of the campaign.

So what did I think of the actual ad? A railway station and a chance encounter between old lovers. Quite an interesting setting and Amitabh Reza’s execution of the script was wonderful. Very poetic indeed. Quite a few people will like it. Some swoon over it. But I get the distinct feeling where have I seen it before?

The story line has a few holes in it as well. Our protagonist seems to have his ex-flames number and knows that she is still unmarried after all these years. So why didn’t he try to “stay close” earlier? Hmmm… I have broken the 1st Golden Rule of Cinema – “Thou shalt not question the holes in the plot!”

I would wait till the whole campaign roles out before making my mind up about if I like it or not, but right now, I’m sitting on the fence.

On production value I’ll give it a 7 on 10. On originality a 4. Overall: let’s wait.

Banglalink: on its third instalment Banglalink Desh 3 is another Amitabh Reza production. Is it working? I am positive speaking to the marketing gurus from Banglalink the answer will be an emphatic “yes”. Numbers are up, they are now number two player in the market. A lot of people like the song and dance routine. Or maybe some like me just like watching Monalisa on TV! But I’ll bet you a dinner at a restaurant of your choice the series of ads isn’t adding anything to the brand value.

There is no insight here. There is no consumer connect. There is no element of campaignability or anything that is making the subscribers remember it beyond the catchy jingle. Ads like this work as long as there is money to play it on TV and then when they go off air… poof!… they are forgotten. Quick, name me a biscuit!… how many of you thought of the rage from a few years back “Khaitay khaitay jai bela?” What was the brand anyway?

Banglalink D3 as an ad itself isn’t anything to talk about. It isn’t different from D2 or D1! A lot of people dancing around and singing the same old song. Are you impressed? I bet Amitabh made a lot of money on it. And I bet he is not going to put it on his showreel.

Worst bit of the campaign is that it is a complete rip-off Telenor Pakistan’s one. Shame. Our advertising world has (or atleast should have) gone beyond this. It helps no one. Not the agency, not the industry, not the client and certainly not the brand. Well to answer then: “Ami bhalo achi kintu apnar brand nai!”

On production value I’ll give it a 4 on 10. (it isn’t any better or worse than the other two) On originality a 0. Overall: 3/10.

Citycell: I started my advertising career working on this brand. I watched by as they made one mistake after the other and eroded their brand value and market share. So they brought in another agency, another marketing head and another campaign to save their proverbial bacon. The knight in shinning armour it turned out is a campaign copied from one of my favourites – Mac vs. PC.

The Creative honcho of the agency behind the ad is none other than Shargil Karim. And according to me (and I’ve said it many many times before) he is amongst the top 3 creative people in advertising in Bangladesh. I am not sure if he was involved in the campaign or not, but as a fellow Mac user, I’ll venture a guess that he had more than his share of input in it. At first I thought, I hate this campaign because it’s another copy. But more I think of it, more I think they have got something brilliant going here. What a wonderful grasp of product differentiation. They have taken a product and a technology that is in consumer’s mind inferior to the market leader’s, and then point by point they refute it. With consumer’s perception being turned on its head I am sure Citycell is back in their list of consideration before making a purchase. And end of the day, that is all an advertising should really do.

I can’t talk of this set of ads without mentioning two people. Samir the director is one of the most under-rated resources we have. I am surprised why we don’t give him more films to do. He did great editing on it and the art direction was meticulous. The second person is Asif the main actor. He pulled it off to the tee. We liked his performance so much that we’ve used him for one of our ads. Look out for him. He is going places. Remember, Justin Long, the Mac in the original ads, is now an up-and-coming actor in Hollywood.

On production value I’ll give it a 6 on 10. On originality a 5 (yup! That’s right) Overall: 5/10 (I still subtracted 2 points because is a copy).

Nazim Farhan Choudhury is the chief mattobbor in Adcomm Limited. Spending 14 years pretending to be in advertising, he now thinks that he can critique works that others have spent many nights (and in some cases even 5 minutes) trying to come up with. To his utter surprise he notices that most of the brands that he has worked on have become quite powerful in the market. He would love to come up with a Cannes Lion winning idea but unfortunately his “dimak key batti” is on a permanent load-shedding schedule. You can send angry emails to him at or visit his blog