The new Coca-cola ad seems to be eliciting very polarized reactions from people, it’s either love it or hate it. I fall into the first category myself, but it makes me wonder whether ads should use devices that divide opinion so sharply.
First, a bit about this ad for those who haven’t seen it. Aamir Khan plays a waiter on a spruced-up bus, walking down the aisle with a bottle of coca-cola to be served. The bus passes through a tunnel, and comes out leaving the bottle empty. Aamir directs suspicious glances at various passengers who are burping, until – he lets out a good one himself! Everything ends well with waiter and passengers laughing together. There are nice touches here of class/age distinctions falling aside as everyone has a hearty laugh together. Watch the ad here on agencyfaqs.
I liked the ad because it makes the cola a sort of common or bonding factor – the line “Sabka thanda ek” ” is a take-off on the old “Sabka Malik ek”, it’s easily understood and reiterates that Coke is the only choice of cola, the “ek thanda”, so to say. It ties in well with the thanda matlab Coca-cola theme that Coke has been pursuing for some time now. The execution is good – thanks to Aamir, whom, I’ve always felt Coke uses excellently, by placing him not as an endorser directly, but as a fun character who really makes the ad so much more memorable and interesting to watch as a ‘film’, not as an ad. (Yes, how many times can one listen to Shahrukh plugging Pepsi so blatantly?) This ad may not be the best in the series of characters that Aamir has played, but it is not bad either.
Why do people hate it then? *Burp* – much of the humor in the ad comes from this rather socially unacceptable device. I don’t think burping was ever considered impolite in traditional Indian society, but urban Indian circles do find burping offensive and not something to be done loudly. If you do hear someone burping, its considered polite to ignore it. Then comes along this ad, where the main ice breaker is the burping. Burp, burp goes everyone in the bus, and then laugh over it all together. Quite a few people I spoke to, considered this really gross, to the extent that they didn’t want to watch the ad at all.
Now, it’s possible that my sensitivities aren’t very easily offended, and so I didn’t really find the use of such a device yucky – it may be lowbrow humor, but in this case, I thought it worked, since it has a natural association with the category. Cola does induce burping after all, no matter how well you disguise it. On the other hand, is it that most Indians don’t fancy this sort of physical humor any more? Or am I just talking to some finicky souls?