The pursuit of happiness
Campaign name: Crazy for Happiness
Company: Coca-Cola India
Agency: McCann Erickson
The ad opens on a girl riding a bicycle who gives a high-five on the raised hands of strangers hailing an autorickshaw or a taxi. Similarly, a tired Santa finds a bottle of Coke as a return gift under a Christmas tree, a diner gives away a bottle of Coke to the doorman while leaving the restaurant and a young man is shown feeding stray dogs. All through, the song 'Haan main crazy hoon' plays in the background. The film ends with the voice-over: "Kya aap duniya ko khush karne ke liye crazy hain?" (Are you crazy enough to make the world happy?). The campaign's punch line is 'Khushiyaan lutao, crazy kehlao' (Spread happiness, be called crazy).
It's déjà-vu just too soon. In last week's column, we discussed how Snickers went haywire in its execution of the desi version of one of its more popular and successful global campaigns. Pitched as the natural extension of Coke's happiness anthem of last year, 'Umeed wali dhoop, sunshine wali asha', this new campaign, though technically and contextually sound, doesn't really make the impact one expected it to make. In spite of being more focussed than last year's happiness anthem in terms of its message and brand communication and towing Coke's global branding around happiness over the last one year, the TVC lacks the punch that one was waiting for and also doesn't fare as well on the recall value, unlike so many commendable coke ads.The brand is no stranger to some stellar ads over the years, and perhaps because of that kind of expectation, this one doesn't really make the cut to be counted among the better Coca-Cola ads.
Make no mistake, the random-acts-of-kindness message the TVC propagates does strike a chord somewhere within, after all we all — ad men and reviewers included —are humans. But the question to be asked is: Could this have been done better? When strong positive emotions are the instruments and elements in an ad, then they better come through straight without much layering. Goodness alone works best in its simplicity. That's where a natural comparison has to be made between this Indian commercial and the global one (called 'Let's Go Crazy') on the same lines by the same brand, released around the same time. It's actually that ad that dwarfs its desi avatar in everything from motivation to thought and even execution. If one sports a fleeting smile after the Indian ad, the international version leaves one with a series of inspirational goose bumps. It looks much more real, credible and affable. Even the soundtrack, Supertramp's 'Give A Little Bit' works magically, while Amit Trivedi's 'Haan main crazy hoon' done exclusively for the Indian ad settles best as mediocre. Even the crazy in the ad is not as crazy, if you know what I mean. Perhaps Coke should've just gone ahead and released their western version of the campaign in India as well, but of course, the motivation was to showcase local random-acts-of-kindness heroes.