It’s a sequel. Failure, it seems is woven into that one simple word.
No, it’s not a movie I am talking about. Neither is it a game or reality show.
It is a series of TV ads featuring characters called Zoozoos.
My nine-year old daughter doesn’t find this year’s campaign funny. Of course she is tougher than the jury at
. (The jury at Cannes didn’t find the Zoozoos funny enough to merit an award last year too. But that’s another story.) Cannes
Apart from the genetic disadvantage of being a sequel, why aren’t the Zoozoos successful this year?
Flashback to the TV commercial that launched Liril Soap. A young girl in a swimming costume bathes under a waterfall with Liril. All hell breaks loose at the cash registers (the phrase 'moral police' hadn't been invented then), and advertising history is created. Copywriters and art directors dream of the day when they will think up path-breaking advertising like this. (They do, but most script narrations don’t go beyond, “Film opens on a hot chick in a bikini...”) MBAs, yes, there was a time when MBAs voluntarily chose to join advertising, write case studies about it.
In the years that followed, Liril became exactly that – history. Year after year it had some of the most repetitive advertising. Why was that so? The answer, to my untrained mind (I don’t have an MBA; I wouldn’t have one if he or she was given to me free, or in chains), the proposition of Liril was freshness, the reason to believe was its lemon ingredient and its expression was a girl under a waterfall. The last one was a great and unprecedented way to express freshness and it broke the category convention of showing women bathing in showers and bath tubs. But someone probably thought that the idea of Liril was 'Waterfall and semi-naked girl'. So year after year, young and upcoming models were put under waterfalls and had to retire prematurely due to pneumonia.
Back in a flash to the Zoozoos. Maybe there is someone who thinks that the idea of Zoozoos is Zoozoos. Every script that begins with, “Film opens with a Zoozoo or two dozen...” is being sent straight to the sets and is being shot and not shot down. The other, more acute problem is that the Zoozoos are so much noisier this year. It’s like Bollywood comedy: It’s not funny unless the funny guys don’t talk as if they were shot on location in a fish market. (I would love that: The entire cast of a Bollywood comedy shot after being made to hang around in a fish market all day. For the shooting, I would recommend a high calibre gun.)
That is sad. Because the Zoozoos in their first birth were a fun lot. They made my daughter laugh. Then what could have gone wrong? Neil French, ex-Creative Godfather, WPP Group of ad agencies once said, “The first condition for writing funny stuff is, you have to be funny”.
And while I am in the mood for ad bashing, here’s more:
Again, it’s the daughter: She reads the statutory disclaimer before a motorcycle ad, ‘The actions in this advertisement are performed by professionals. Do not imitate them’, and remarks, “What’s the point then? You can buy any bike, no?”
I didn’t know sarcasm was hereditary.
Then, there is the ad for Videcon mobile phone services describing the various kinds of ‘signals’ you get: The, ‘I love you signal’ from boy to girl, the ‘Papa don’t go signal’ from baby to father and the last one that pisses me off: The, ‘Even this job is gone’ signal a guy gets when he sees an attractive woman in a short skirt walk in for an interview for the same job as him.
For the bloke who thought that bit up, I wouldn’t recommend a high calibre gun. A fisherwoman with her machete would be more like it.