By: CREATIVE BRANDS NEWS NETWORK Dated: May 01, 2014
When politics, product and propaganda intersect, it throws up interesting possibilities... Where do brands then stand in relation to politics and the consumer? Creative Brands takes a look at a recent ad...
So for more than a month, citizen superseded consumer. Thus, we saw a band of brands — from bikes to baniyans (vests) — trying to associate with the ‘voter’. For instance, Hero Hf Deluxe, a 100cc motorcycle, in its ad urged us to vote for true ‘talent’ rather than regional backgrounds. So the pillion in the ad would have likely voted for a “Ramesh Bhai” as he belonged to “apni taraf (our region)”. The rider has the right riposte: ‘if we seek and support talent in cricket and music then why not in politics’.
But the latest ad by Fevicol, an adhesive, breaches taboo — a cunning juxtaposition of product and politics, lubricated by sardonic humour. So we are in a carpenter’s shop. Wood is being carved and polished. The chaiwala brings in steaming tea and asks: “Yeh aisi aisi kursiyan kiske liye bana riya hai (for whom are you making such chairs)”. The master carpenter says, “Arre lalla! Yeh jo phool wali hai yeh Nalinder Bhai ki party ki hai (Oh brother, this one with the flower is for Nalinder Bhai’s party)”. Camera focuses on a chair with a solidly built lotus-shaped back, which happens to be the symbol of the BJP or ‘Nalinder Bhai’s party’. “Sahi hai (it’s good),” the tea vendor says, obviously impressed.
Camera swings. “Yeh haath wali kursi, yeh sure nahi the kaun baithega ispe toh maine na isko thoda sa adjustable bana diya (The hand-shaped chair — these people aren’t sure who they want to seat on this, so I made it adjustable),” says the carpenter sardonically, as he dismissively adjusts the height of the chair. The open ‘hand’ is the symbol of the Congress Party. It doesn’t end there. The carpenter continues: "Yeh third party ki hai. Darjano logon ka jhund hai ismein. Jod-tod ke bana di kaise bhi maine ise (This is for the third party. A dozen people are in it. I have somehow put it all together)". We see four chairs, cobbled together rather awkwardly. This one was a dig at the Aam Admi Party and sundry other parties.
Then the tea vendor brings on the brand’s message: "Sun! kursi mein Fevicol zaroor lagaiyo, taaki kursi jiski bhi bane majboot bane, der tak chale (Listen! Do apply fevicol to all the chairs, so that regardless of who comes to power, these chairs remain strong and last longer)”. He further adds, "Teen guna daam pe bechiyo. Market mein toh ek hi jaani hai baki toh dhari reh jaani hai (Sell it at three times the price, because only one is going to come into the market, the rest will stay where they are)”. Impressed, the carpenter suggests, "Tu chai ka kaam chod de, chunav visheshagya ban ja. Channel wale pakad lenge, pochenge 16 May ko kiski delivery hogi (Why don’t you leave this tea business and become a psephologist. The channels will call you and ask whose chair will be delivered on 16 May)".
The tea vendor, however, is thoroughly impressed by the lotus chair (“sahi hai”).
If anything, this communication piece is an excellent example of using symbols and signifiers. Who in the real political arena is the ‘chaiwala’? Mr. Narendra Modi, the prime ministerial candidate of the BJP. Coincidence? Not really. ‘Narendra Bhai’ is a barely disguised as ‘Nalinder Bhai’. Plus, there is a suggestion made to the tea vendor to quit selling tea — a not-so-covert reference to one of Modi’s earlier avatars as a chaiwala. But the symbol that tops it all is the Islamic talisman around the tea vendor’s neck — a subtle suggestion that the community is open to supporting the Hindu Right represented by Modi! The intersections in the ad are interesting and far from accidental.
The ad has been created by Ogilvy & Mather. Headed by Piyush Pandey, it was O&M that had also created and packaged the BJP’s election campaign.
The symbolism in the ad is ill-concealed. Fevicol lends ‘cohesiveness’ to the BJP, literally. The inference being that the BJP stands for cohesion. On IBN7 Live’s website, a reader comments thus: “No wonder there is a touch of NaMo in the advertisement as the company that makes ads for Fevicol, Piyush Pandey is involved who has been selected [to] advertise for [the] BJP as well.” [Sic]
Product and politics make for strange bedfellows. However, brand owners and politics, mediated by brand builders, for long have cohabited overtly, covertly, and indeed most fruitfully. Where do then brands stand in this equation?
Brands perhaps stand for a brand of politics. Look at the some of the most controversial brands of our times: the cokes, the colas, or the burgers, for instance. The very nature of these brands has from time to time sparked off global movements against consumption and unsustainable ecological/biological practices, forcing them to adapt themselves to the needs of the times.