Ad nauseam

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 Cannes. (The jury at Cannes didn’t find the Zoozoos funny enough to merit an award last year too. But that’s another story.)

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.



  1. But I love the Zoozoos. Love their new ads.

    Nice post btw. You were at your wittiest (no I think I will change it to sarcastic) best.

    Keep them coming.

  2. Sequels of a hit movie/commercial/concept are always a tough act to follow. If the first act was a super-duper hit, then it would only be tempting to ride on that euphoria. Unless of course one is able to come up with another original class act- not impossible but much less probable! I think its not time to retire the Zoozoos as yet, there is some milking still possible with it. Yes, there better be no Zoozoos next year or the year after next, cause that would surely be akin to flogging a dead horse... Cheers D (b.t.w. wondering if using a child to write one's blog is outside the purview of child labour laws)

  3. You seem to write a lot on advertising...brand building...strategy guy are you?? son in one and a half year old...and he loves the I end up seeing my son more than the ads :)

    You left out one super weird ad...Akshay Kumar's Micromax mobile ad...I actually got confused when I saw it the first time...I thought it was some 'bartan ka sabun' ka ad :P
    (and that horrendous laughing...God save us!)

  4. Zoozoos never had an idea going for them. Even during the first season. It was just cretins playing out a hackneyed script. Why it was found funny (and hence succeeded) the first time around was its novelty expression value. Which is now no longer the case. Now its old in addition to groaningly idea-bereft.

  5. Thanks Purba. I like the Zoozoos too. I just don't like what's done to them! Maybe Flickering Cursor & I can start a campaign for Prevention of Cruelty to Zoozoos (and their audience).

    Slash, the same laws that allow children to act in ads apply for publishing their quotes on blogs too.

    Varsh, I joined advertising in 1993 as copywriter. Now, advertising is one of the things I write for.

    Flickering Cursor: Superb insight. And love the phrase: 'groaningly idea-bereft'.

  6. You've been tagged!

  7. I guess zoozoos are not bad, wat they are doing with zoozoos is bad!


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