Much khushi-ness all the way

Friday, 28 March 2014 - 5:38pm IST | Place: Mumbai | Agency: dna

With jingles and tagline, let’s explore brands and the evolution of happiness...five experts chip in with their insights

Advertising and marketing have always been in a happy state in India. It is an emotion that combines joy and delight of consumers, thereby creating a happy environment for consumption.

Before going for a macho refrain, soft-drink Thumbs Up had embraced its tagline of ‘Happy days are here again’ nearly four decades back. In fact as one brand manager tells us, this evergreen emotion always works magic for a brand. “Happiness is a very positive emotion with most brands wanting to build messages around it as it is a primary emotion,” says Lloyd Mathias, director Green Bean Ventures, who was head of marketing at Tata Docomo, Motorola and PepsiCo India.

Indeed it is! From Thumbs Up to Domino’s Pizza with Khushiyon ki home delivery and from Khushiyon ki Planning at Max Life Insurance to Khushiyon ki chaabi for Tata Nano and Khushiyon ka khazana wali Maggi, it’s khushi-ness all over. In fact, the same line—Khushiyon ki Diwali—was used in advertisements of brands like Airtel and Asus. 

The recent Coca-Cola campaign with Deepika Padukone and Farhan Akhtar talks about the little moments of happiness—the entire sequence of missing the bus, chasing it and then boarding it. “It makes a lot of sense to be associated with a positive emotion. Products like beverages and food are consumed by people in a positive frame of mind,” reasons Mathias. “Another commercial by Nestle, about a family adopting a girl child and how food is the ice-breaker between the adopted girl and a young boy, is a good campaign. There is a lot of joy in the food category.”

Khushi, when there’s gham: Although happiness is an emotion that has been used by marketers for decades, in times of a slowdown and a liquidity crunch, it is often the possible solution to keep buyers happy. Says KV ‘Pops’ Sridhar, Chief Creative Officer India subcontinent, Leo Burnett, “When society is depressed, it needs something which is optimistic or makes people happy. Unemployment, corruption, politicians, etc., add to this state. Therefore, brands are showing optimism and presenting a picture that not everything is going wrong. Today, it has become important for big brands to not talk about the values it has, but the values that it will bring.”
According to Santosh Padhi, Chief Creative Officer and Co-founder, Taproot, happiness is an emotion that is employed by most brands. “If I want to sell something, I would rather do it in a positive way. In general, brands talk positive unless it is a category like insurance, where you need to make your point in a negative way where it gets hammered and more understood. Otherwise, life is all about positivity. Happiness is one part of it; humour is another. And then, there is hope and simply, being positive. “Happiness is, of course, not a phenomenon that works only in India. It is a global sentiment. Adds Padhi, “In China, Pepsi released a big campaign on happiness. There’s a man who offers happiness to those in need, like education, shelter, umbrella and spectacles. Pepsi is running it for the past 20 years in China. So, when Coke came a few years back with ‘Open Happiness’ as part of a global mandate, Pepsi-China didn’t stop. In a huge market like China, two competitors are ‘doing’ happiness.”

The Coca-Cola brand launched the campaign internationally in 2009—around the time of the slowdown—and the ongoing  Deepika-Farhan commercial is a part of the five-year-old activity.

Over-used concept: Says Bobby Pawar, Director and Chief Creative Officer, South Asia, Publicis Worldwide, “I think in tough times, brands want to hold out people to heart. Happiness has a gravitational point for that. But, it is such a broad concept unless you try to find true meaning in it.” 

Pawar believes not all advertisers are doing it right. “Happiness as a term is getting over-used. Coke has nailed it internationally. They do create happiness with their world machines. Only Coke has got it right. Rest of them are like ‘whatever’.”

Anand Halve, brand consultant and a veteran ad professional and Co-founder, Chlorophyll adds on to Pawar’s sentiment,  “Not only happiness, all emotions are being over-used. Brands have started to use this term that aapki zindagi badal jaayegi. Just look at the number of brands that use the word ‘life’. Brands should aim to do beyond just the functional thing. You have to be careful about not going overboard and 
sounding incredible.”

“Coke is doing really well through Coke Studio. Music makes people happy and that to me is genuine happiness. Just hanging a line at the end of an ad doesn’t mean anything...agar mujhe khush karna hai toh, take me out for dinner...don’t just send a voucher,” says Halve.

But Mathias believes, happiness is here to stay. “It can never go out of style. It is a very basic emotion and on a typical day, one has a lot of happy moments. It is very logical for brands to show people in a happy frame-of-mind especially in ads of categories like beverages or food which are driven by the same. It is an important emotion to build your brand on.”

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