Thursday, May 21, 2009

BFF: Critique 8: Energy Drinks

Appeared in the May 2009 edition of the Bangladesh Brand Forum magazine.

It’s a jungle out there! Specially between Tiger, Dark Horse, Shark, it’s a “Wild Brew” (pun of course intended!). Throw in Crown, Big Boss, Mountain Dew, Speed, and the Energy Drink market is really crowded. Being a very profitable segment of the market there is a mini war going on. It’s currently a small-volume-high-margin segment of the drinks market but growing like a runaway cattle high on Red Bull. To be absolutely clear, there are two sub-variants. One being the high-caffeine, sugary, carbonated drink that is the bulk of the segment, and the other being a pseudo beer defined as non-alcoholic malt beverage. Neither, ironically, are what is referred to as energy drinks in the internationally. There it is an isotonic, salt-reinforced, lemon based drink, like those of Gatorade and Locazade. In the local market the spurt of activity recently has seen quite a few TVCs fighting out for consumer’s mindshare.

Tiger: This is the brand that started the battle. Using Ayub Bachchu as the brand endorser, it has proved to be a runaway success.
While the original launch ad lacked the punch and the polish of a good production, the follow up ad took the two best things of the first, namely AB and a catchy song, and did a better mash up. It showed all the correct target audience. It had all the required elements - a good jingle, the youth gathering shots (concert, sports), it even had, what seems to be fast becoming essential, a cricket match shot! On originality of the idea it does nothing for the brand. It doesn’t add on the values of the product too much. But the sheer presence of AB and the massive media buy behind the TVC I am sure will ensure the success of the brand for some time to come.

Production value 6 on 10. Insight: 4. Originality: 2. Execution of the Idea: 3. Overall: 3.5

Speed: After a forgetful and illogical launch ad that showed a jockey having the drink thus making the horse go faster, Akij did a much anticipated re-branding exercise. Grey has given the brand a great do over. With invigorating pack graphics Speed’s new pay-off “Heavy (pronounced HeaBee) Energy”, I believe they positioned the brand for success.
Its use of humour was an attempt to distinguish itself from the rivals. I saw the static executions before the TVC. I was disappointed with the latter. I think they did no justice to the insight. After such a strong footing and a powerful pay-off, the TVC was a let down. It showed a man who has lost his memory being jolted back by a stray carom striker shot from a distance by a Speed drinking protagonist. Phew. A stretch to say the least. Not that reality needs to play any part in it. But come on, you could come up with a much much stronger execution. In the static itself, the broken cement I thought was a great lead in for the TVCs. Could have built on that. Production wise it was well shot, having all the required values. But overall it didn’t leave a lasting impression. I thought even the attempted humour was trying to katu kutu (tickle) you into laughing.

Production value 5 on 10. Insight: 6. Originality: 5. Execution of the Idea: 4. Overall: 4

Wild Brew: another offering from Akij, this is the malt beverage side of the portfolio. The brand name and premise is that it unleashes the “beast inside”. Interesting! The ad was different. It showed various animals in the African jungle running off scared. (Running from, I thought in the first few viewing, the cheetah. But no. Apparently everyone -including the cheetah - was running from the drink). Ok. Did it excite non Animal Planet watching crowd? Not sure it did. Yes, it did set up the brand as this wild untamed man’s drink but then they fizzled out. I would have thought this was only the launch ad and they would follow up with a proper theme ad that showed a macho wild man who drank this brew. Or even a James Bondish suave character who had this wild excitable side. But they left us hanging. I hope not for long though. Grey who handles the brand usually does a more stronger brand-consumer connect.

Production value 5 on 10. Insight: 6. Originality: 5. Execution of the Idea: 5. Overall: 5 (but only as an “intro” TVC. If this is all they have got then I’ll give it a “2”)

Crown: the original big daddy of energy drink. It started off with Azam Khan - the original big daddy of the beer chugging set! But then the follow up had Tinni and Fuad. It was shot during an unflattering phase of Tinni’s life. She didn’t have the sex appeal the director’s intended. Why didn’t they use Mila or Tishma? Fuad, too, seemed an after thought. What was he doing there except saying “khub cheena cheena”? And what did he mean by that?

The TVC showed Tinni stuck in traffic, calls into a Radio show to dedicate a song to Fuad. She crack opens a can of Crown which is carried over the airwaves and starts off a party. A lot of good looking people, drinking shots and a Fuad mixed jingle aimed at appealing to the young. But the ad was so average that it was painful. It had a lot of potential but I bet you a case of Heineken, the powers behind the brand only thought of the communication as a TVC and not as a big picture. This will not get the brand anywhere.

Production value 4 on 10. Insight: 3. Originality: 2. Execution of the Idea: 2. Overall: 2 (our lowest ever!)

Big Boss: I wish we could copyright ideas. This script bears a more than uncanny resemblance to a script I presented to a client a few years back. While I failed in convincing the client, kudos to Expression for being able to take a similar concept forward. Of course I think it’s a good connect with the brand. The ad borrows heavily from the sport of “free running”. Basically it is running a hurdle race where participants, while running, jump over barriers and keep going without slowing down. While the sport is new and has a little but growing following in the west, it has been used in quite a few ads in the region already. Including for a dJuice ad locally. In this particular ad the Big Boss drinker runs off after a thief who just robbed a lady of her handbag. He goes through various obstacles during the chase. Near the end of the pursuit we see him crossing the thief to reach for the Big Boss carrying vehicle. As the others including the perplexed thief look on he opens up a drink and then grabs hold of the purse snatcher to relieve him of the stolen good. Cut to a bar / disco where the macho hero hands the bag back to the rightful owner.

Overall the production by Amit Sen is entertaining. Good mix of music and action. However I thought it failed to create that little bit of suspense. We should have left wondering if the hero could make those jumps or not. And they needed to be slightly more awe inspiring. Instead we got too many gymnastic digbaji (somersault). One thing that I didn’t like at all was the last sequence in the bar. Didn’t think it was required at all. They should have ended the TVC before this. Let me guess. The client insisted on it!

A point to make here is that while this attempt is much better than a stop gap ad that they ran for a few months in the middle, it isn’t good enough to win the Energy Drink war.

Production value 4 on 10. Insight: 5. Originality: 5. Execution of the Idea: 4. Overall: 4

Black Horse: And the winner’s trophy of this war. I think, will go to Black Horse. At the time of writing this piece, the launch ad hasn’t aired as yet. But how do I know this will win? Well it has James as the lead. Who else can epitomise and bring to life the category than James? The biggest, baddest rockstar to walk the Bangladeshi stage. After a big bidding war James signed on and surely that will propel Black Horse to a different stratosphere. I mean how can you go wrong? All you need to do is put him in the ad and do a music video of him! [What I’ll do is when the ad is out, put a review of it on my site. Let’s see, finger’s crossed]

Nazim Farhan Choudhury is the Deputy Managing Director of Adcomm Limited and an ardent fan of edgy advertising. He is of the strong belief that advertising is a medium that can help shape a society and its culture. We can use it for the better good of the nation. Introduce new thought, promote new concepts and eventually change the thinking. And if we are lucky, for the better. If you have comments, feel free to write at or visit his blogsite

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