Monday, June 23, 2014

Yet Another Tribute to David Ogilvy

David Mackenzie Ogilvy turned a 103 year old yesterday. The
west of the world map is still celebrating his birth anniversary thanks to different time zones.

It's 2:25am in my part of the world and I'm sitting on my bed, typing on this keyboard, wondering what more can I write about perhaps the most written about man in advertising, that the ad enthusiasts after me would like to go back and read.

I was all of 11 when David Ogilvy died. I only got to know about this man 11 years later but what I did know at that tender age of 10+1 was that I loved ads. While I've not met this legend ever, I am certain if we'd met 11 years ago, I'd have been able to strike up a decent 30 minute conversation with him. One that both he and I would've remembered for the rest of our lives/afterlives, more for the sheer attempt at expressing oneself in the little English one knew in 5th standard.

Confession of an aspiring Adnerd

To be honest, I feel many other ad caliphs before and after him have created far more memorable 'creative' ads. But there's a reason he outdoes each one of them in my mind. The reason is: Legacy.

There's something about each Ogilvy-ite in the few Ogilvy offices across India (and London) that I've met with, that tells you how exceptionally creative, hard working, and humble those people are. You can contest me on that but I firmly believe David Ogilvy is the strongest dead adman ever. One who made sure his agency grew and yet remain rooted years after his demise.

Three years ago, I'd read his book: 'Confessions of an Advertising Man,' and realised I didn't agree on a lot of things he had said. Yet, I found it to be the best primer on advertising one could've asked for. Anyhow, let's not make this post about his book that's been written about more times than the number of selfies clouding the planet.

Exemplary Work on a Boring Category, 1955

But there's one campaign I'd like to talk about. It's the one for Schweppes (a beverage brand) where Ogilvy managed to convince Commander Edward Whitehead (1908-1978), the President of Schweppes (USA) & General Manager (Overseas), to feature in his own brand's print advert.Commander was a British Royal Navy officer and a World War II veteran.

To give you a sense of how revered Commander Whitehead was - English painter Bernard Hailstone (1910 – 1987) who is mostly remembered for his paintings of Sir Winston Churchill, Lord Mountbatten and Peter Ustinov (an actor), had also painted an oil on canvas portrait of our Schweppes man. Wait, did I just call him the Schweppes man? That's right.

That's what struck Ogilvy in 1955 when he decided to not invent a character or deploy a random chiselled face to endorse the tonic water (which, needless to say, was a boring category), and got Edward to become the face of the brand's communication.

10 years on

Commander Whitehead with his pizzazz, suave appearance and distinct grey beard, did the magic. The spell lasted for over a decade and the campaign remains their most popular one to this day. And it's because of campaigns such as these, that David Ogilvy will possibly remain the most popular ad man for another half century, if not more.


Here's the text of the copy, and the main ad from the campaign underneath: 

The Man from Schweppes is Here

      Meet Commander Edward Whitehead, Schweppesman Extraordinary from London, England, where the house of Schweppes has been a great institution since 1794. 

Commander Whitehead has come to these United States to make sure that every drop of Schweppes Quinine Water bottled here has the original flavor which has long made Schweppes the only mixer for and authentic Gin-and-Tonic. 

He imports the original Schweppes elixir, and the secret of Schweppes unique carbonation is locked in his brief case. “Schweppervescence,” says the Commander, “lasts the whole drink through.” 

It took Schweppes almost a hundred years to bring the flavor of their Quinine Water to its present bittersweet perfection. 

But it will take you only thirty seconds to mix it with ice and gin in a high ball glass. Then, gentle reader, you will bless the day you read these words. 

P.S. If your favorite store or bar doesn’t yet have Schweppes, drop a card to us and we’ll make the proper arrangements. Address Schweppes, 30 East 60th Street, New York City.

Pictures courtesy:,

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Beats by Dre - Best FIFA World Cup Ad ever

First off, I don't watch football. Second, this blog talks only about the legends in advertising, eponymous with the blog title, of course. But something tells me that two decades from now, if this world survives, people will mention this video among the classics of FIFA World Cup ads. I'm just doing it 20 years too early. 

But before the story of the ad, you'd have to bear with the story of how I got to this ad. Here goes, 

It was 4:28am. So this happened two hours ago, basically. I had just come back from office. Wasn't one bit tired but I knew I had to sleep. Until I chanced upon a Facebook post by Adweek which had, what at first glance looked like a convoluted headline: Did Beats by Dre Just Out-Nike Nike With This Incredible World Cup Ad? 

I read it again. And realised Tim Nudd, the senior editor - creative at Adweek had indeed out-done himself in the headline and that the story is going to be great. Then I saw the ad. More like savoured it. 

At first, it catches your attention for lines like 'Run like it is the last day of your life,' and 'Don't hold back.' And then the real deal begins. The soundtrack "Jungle" by Jamie N Commons & The X Ambassadors starts to take over your mood. And how. So where does R/GA come into picture? In holding my interest with the visuals. 

Basically, for a non-football viewer, it's the strength of their visuals that makes me want to know the game and the people involved in it. It makes me want to find out who's that player whose being surmounted in place of God and being worshipped in a house. It makes me smile at the sight of a woman who has her country's flag painted on her nails (And I haven't worn nail paint in my life, ever) 

What I like the most about this five minute video is that not once does it feel like an ordeal. The next best thing would be the fact that it establishes the brand connect for me, strongly at that. It's about headphones. You use them to hear your folks clearly on the phone before getting into the team van, and keep them on until you step into the field. It keeps the right tempo of 
'The Game Before The Game' as the tagline beautifully brings out. 

But you know what's best and the rarest? This ad makes me want to buy Beats by Dre's new range of headphones. I have seen umpteen ads in the last two decades and will remember some of them fondly until I die. But never had an ad made me want to buy the said product. This, my friend, is the superlative of #win. 


And now, you can watch the ad: 

Picture courtesy:

Monday, June 2, 2014

Gillette - Look Sharp, Feel Sharp, Be Sharp

Let's play the Brand-Tagline game. What's the one tagline that comes to mind when I say - Gillette
'The Best A Man Can Get,' right? 

No, this post is not about that 1989 born slogan created by BBDO, that first received an audience during the then Super Bowl game. In fact, this is not about a slogan at all. This story is about a little birdie that BBDO created for Gillette, 62 years ago. 

Time-travel time. Year 1952: BBDO creates an animated parrot to sound off Gillette's message - Look sharp, feel sharp, be sharp. The parrot is baptised as Sharpie. What follows is a jingle that later becomes popular as 'The Look Sharp March.' Here goes the rhythmic script: 

Look sharp, feel sharp, be sharp …
And listen mister!
How are you fixed for blades? (do you have many?)
How are you fixed for blades? (you’d better check!)
Please make sure you have enough –
‘cos a worn-out blade makes shaving mighty tough!
How are you fixed for blades? (you’d better look!)
Gillette Blue blades are neat!

You better look at the original video as well now: 

Chartbuster: Composed by Mahlon Merrick (of The Jack Benny Show fame), the march was first aired during the 1952 World Series (of Baseball, where Gillette was the *coughs* official sponsor) match played between the Dodgers and the Yankees. Consequently, 'The Look Sharp March' turned out to be the most played march at high school and college football game half-time shows in the USA for almost two decades.


Value for money: Gillette did not spend a fortune on the television campaigns initially, since the brand was not sure of the effectiveness of TV as a medium. But whatever little they invested, reaped them higher than expected value for the brand. With the advent of Nielsen's Audience data, they were able to correlate the arrival of television in every household, with their rising sales figures. (Their very own *huge sigh of relief moment*) Some reports from that time suggest that the parrot was as popular as the sport stars of that period. 

Breakup: Gillette recently ended its 80 year long relationship with BBDO by awarding its creative mandate to Grey Worldwide across regions. BBDO that created its spokesbird, its famous tagline and fetched the first Creative Effectiveness Award at Cannes Lions 2011 for Shave Sutra - Women against lazy stubble (that was from India). Grey has a tough legacy to match up to.  

 - Shephali 

Pictures courtesy:

Monday, May 19, 2014

David Abbott - The man I want to interview in my afterlife

Woke up to the news of David Abbott's demise, last morning. Twitterverse from the adland ensured I didn't miss any link that paid homage to this man and his exemplary work. Some posts went to the extent of saying that his death seems like a personal loss to them, that they feel a void. I get the void bit, notwithstanding the fact that most of us mourning haven't met him even once in our lifetimes. 

I have always heard his name whenever an ad veteran would talk about who he/she considered to be, well, ad veterans. When I first saw the Chivas Regal ad (thanks to a dear friend whose repertoire of knowledge of great advertising work I supremely envy), I felt more than just a lump in my throat. Wait, the ad first: 

This ad, these words, did what nothing has been able to do to me so far. It made me wish I were a son. More so, it made me wish I had a father who I could dedicate these words to. That's the most personal thought I've shared on the cloud so far. You can imagine the extent to which this ad would've made an impact on me. 

What's more? When I read more about his work and what he stood for, I understood how important it is to keep your writing simple. When you're in the business of writing (especially when you love words, like I do), it's always a challenge to keep your prose simple and your poems simpler. Over the years, I'm glad I have been able to gradually align my writing with his belief: 

“Words for me are the servants of the argument, and on the whole I like them to be plain, simple and familiar.”

To give you a sense of how much his fraternity and his peers revered him, here's something Tony Brignull, another British ad legend had said about Abbott once: 

"There are a few of us writers around who think of ourselves as the sons of Bill Bernbach. I have a feeling David is the only one who'd pass a blood test."

As I type this, I am listening to one of his interviews where he tells William Channer about what he learnt from Bernbach and David Ogilvy. Give it an ear, here

This is what he's saying right now: "When you start off in copywriting, you fall in love with words. In my early days in advertising, I used to be an inveterate punster. As I got older and wiser, my style became more plain."

And with that, my wish to interview him in my afterlife strengthens. 


You can relish some of his ads I found online: 

Pictures courtesy: Google Images

Monday, May 12, 2014

Budweiser - This Bud's For You

One could've started off with the Nip the evil in the 'bud' wisecrack but then I decided not to troll my own words.So, this story is about Adolphus Busch's classic tagline - 'This bud's for you!'

Quick history shower: Budweiser, 5% abv(alcohol by volume) is an American Lager introduced in 1876. Essentially a part of the US's popular culture, humour has been to Bud's ads what Isaiah Mustafa is to Old Spice. You get the picture. 

Back to the story: To this date, the most memorable Budweiser campaign (and you might want to dispute that but why, just read on) is the 1979 born ' 'This Bud's for you!' Created by D'Arcy Masius Benton & Bowles, the minute long commercial shows a slew of working men (and a few women) toiling hard in the field with a voice-over that goes: "This bud's for you. There is no one who does it quite the way you do. So here's to you, you know it isn't only what you say, it's what you do."

Here, connoisseurs, watch the spot: 

Relevance+Impact (Read: Yes, the sales went up): The commercial was relevant to the economic times (see what I did there, no, good) prevailing in that era and thus created a huge impact. How else would one explain the sales figures soaring despite the economic depression plaguing the nation at that time. Soon, Budweiser was able to acquire more than 35% of the US. beer market. Within the next two decades the share catapulted to more than 51%. Sales had more than doubled from 35 million to 86 million barrels. #win

15 years too young: Enterprising creativity (and the Clydesdale horses in the lattermost half of the century) are intrinsic to all of Bud's' ads. What's special about this tagline is that that they stuck to it for almost two decades until they severed their relationship with the then incumbent agency and gave the account to DDB Chicago (1994). And even though we saw many more remarkable campaigns after that, like the 'Real Men of Genius' (1998), or the campaign built around the catchphrase 'Whassup' (1999-2002); 'This bud's for you' still rings the nostalgic bell. Though 'Whassup' was a 'true' hit. See it for yourself. (One of the spots from the whassup series was aired during 2000 Super Bowl and had instantly become a pop culture rage)

Drama behind the glory: The story of how the campaign gained popularity is not an all pleasant one. One of the late 80s ads on the 'This bud's for you' theme concentrated on flaunting the body parts of models, some ad critics opined. That didn't deter the beer brand from unabashedly marketing itself as a masculine brand. In June 2008, Anheuser-Busch  signed a deal with the Brazilian-Belgian brewing company In Bev to give life to the world's largest brewer. Together they recorded an annual revenue of more than $37 billion in the year 2010 hence outdoing the No. 1 brewer in the world, SABMiller. The numbers clocked up to $43.2 billion as per their 2013 annual report. Not too bud. (Sorry, had to crack that one, however bad)

The script of the 1979 spot has been turned into a full fledged caller tune, the internet tells me. So, let's hum: 

“For all you do,
You know the king of beers is coming through!

For all you do...
This Bud's for you!”  


Saturday, August 13, 2011

Chanel No. 5 - Share the Fantasy

Sort of a tribute to Bill Bernbach on his Birth Centennial :)

The German novel 'Das Parfum', its later translation in English titled 'Perfume' and its subsequent adaptation in a movie (Perfume), have all portrayed the enigma of fragrance and how it can impact human emotions immensely. 'Strong' and 'subtle' would be the key words one can aptly associate with perfumes. And thus, it is prudent to stick to the keywords while one is to advertise for a perfume brand. That's what Chanel, the premium fashion house did to bring back the verve in their perfume line post the death of Coco Chanel (French fashion designer, founder of brand Chanel) (1971). 
In 1979, at a time when erotic advertising was not really encouraged, DDB (Doyle Dane Bernbach) introduced a sensual TVC for Chanel No. 5 (One of the World's top-selling perfume, introduced on May 5, 1921). The television spot highlighted the tag-line, 'Share the Fantasy'. The idea was conveyed with so much finesse that an unconventionally sensuous spot was also appreciated across the industry and outside.  

The 30 second film highlighted a woman basking by the pool side, soaking the sun and the aroma of the lush blue water in the swimming pool, while the shadow of an air-plane passes over her. A smooth voice over from the background hushes, “ I am made of blue sky and golden light, and I will feel this way forever”. In the next shot appears your effervescent tall, dark & handsome man, diving in the pool from the other side, swimming all the way to make it to the woman's side, only to magically disappear at the instant of appearing out of the pool. That's when you subtly hear John Huston in the background uttering the three magic words, 'Share the Fantasy'. 

As interpreted by many advertising enthusiasts of that time, the TVC leaves it on you to fill in the missing images and lends in a palatable sensuous idea which doesn't even border on being distasteful or lewd, by any means. Precisely, the ad stays conspicuously etched in your head despite having any overtly carnal implications or bold sexual propositions. 

Directed by British film director, Ridley Scott (of 'Alien' & 'Blade Runner' fame), the mesmerizing background score was picked from a Greek composer, Vangelis Papathanassious' album named 'China'. The tag-line was only used in the American version of the ad because the makers felt that Chanel's brand identity was iconic enough in France to carry through the message. Brand mavens described this campaign as a significant step in repositioning the company's long term entity. And what repositioning after all, Chanel No.5 has thus far never lost the status of being the top best-selling perfumes in the world. Looks like the line, 'I'll feel this way forever' did have some fragrant resonance, and how !
- Shephali

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Brylcreem - A Little Dab'll Do Ya !

Switch off that idiot box. Take a break from Lord's because India has lost the match anyway. Now switch it back and for a change pay a visit to the long forgotten Cartoon Network. Watch a refreshing episode of Flintstones. Resuscitate your funny bones with that effervescent cackle-rendering phrase that became a trademark for a hurried & exuberant Fred Flintstone. What was it again? Yeah! "Yabba Dabba Doo"... Ever wondered where the zany phrase came from? 

It is believed that Alan Reed, the voice for Fred Flintstone was told to go with a plain "Yahoo" but his creative sentiments couldn't stand such banality and he instead came up with a spontaneous "Yabba Dabba Doo". And the inspiration for the same was Brylcreem's (Men's Hair Cream) first ever marketing campaign conceived by Kenyon & Eckhard during the early 1950s. The campaign was titled 'A little Dab'll Do Ya'. So, for Reed, that's precisely where the 'dab' in 'yahoo' came from.

 Brylcreem advertised their maiden campaign on TV  through a jingle which became an instant hit. The  rhyme sounded something like this :

 "Brylcreem, a little dab'll do ya,
 Use more, only if you dare,
 But watch out,
 The gals will all pursue ya,
They'll love to put their fingers through your hair"

 And when the fad for a dry look descended in men's  salons, they twisted the jingle with finesse to make it  sound like :
"They'll love the natural look it gives your hair.
Bryl-creem, a little
dab'll do ya,
Bryl-creem, you'll look so debonair.
Bryl-creem, the gals will
all pursue ya,
They'll love to RUN their fingers through your hair."

As a brand that catered to hair styling requirements of men folk, Brylcreem set its first foot in market-space in 1928. Pomade, a concoction of water and mineral oil stabilized with beeswax, was the introductory product from the brand's fob. And while the inception took place at Chemico Works in Bradford Street, Birmingham, England; the advertising campaign that was put out two decades later, was equally popular in both Europe and America. Such was the level of popularity on Brylcreem's barometer that they stayed with the same campaign till 1970 when they revised it to :"A little dab of Brylcreem on your hair gives you the Brylcreem bounce."

The 'dab' effect was vividly evident on their soaring top lines, bottom lines and brand's worth.
No wonder every time one comes across that well-moussed 'boy next door', the instant thought is of the little dab that must have done it all. And how!

If anagrams hath their wish, they would have firmly stated that dabbling with 'dab' wasn't a 'bad' deal at all! Not for Brylcreem at least...