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Storyboard | Diwali ads: It's that time of the year

Brace yourself for a national outbreak of lump-in-the-throat advertising.

October 26, 2021 / 11:40 AM IST
Actor Tinnu Anand plays a grouchy neighbour who becomes more welcoming when he gets a box of chocolates as a Diwali gift. Diwali is a time for people in the business of advertising to pull out the tear-jerkers.

Actor Tinnu Anand plays a grouchy neighbour who becomes more welcoming when he gets a box of chocolates as a Diwali gift. Diwali is a time for people in the business of advertising to pull out the tear-jerkers.

It's the time of the year when you can redeem 365 days of douchebaggery with a single act of kindness, compassion, humanity, decency, generosity, or whatever is most in line with the client's brand key. Or pyramid, or cube, or circle, or dodecahedron. We in advertising call it Diwali.

It's the time of the year for a national outbreak of lump-in-the-throat-itis. Fortunately, the condition lasts only a few seconds, and is not known to have any debilitating side effects, apart from disruptions in TOM (top-of-mind) awareness. The condition, however, is known to spread rapidly through WhatsApp forwards tagged with messages like 'the real meaning of Diwali'.

Read more: Diwali ads, watch out! Trolls are on the prowl

It's the time of the year when creatives will rummage through their rejected scripts folder to repurpose ideas that didn't make it to the production floor. Diwali is the great leveller. Ideas can cross-over categories with the slightest tweaking. Change 'cup of tea' to 'bottle of mineral water' (wink, wink), or ST bus to airline, or visually impaired to hearing disabled, or lesbian to transgender.

Read more: What do trans people think of trans representation in Indian ads?

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It's the time of the year to tell stories. With a hashtag. And airdrop them with a fervent prayer that each one triggers a million forwards. Diwali, after all, is the perfect backdrop for stories to happen. So, let the tear glands overflow.

It's the time of the year when a psychopath of a neighbour will acknowledge a box of sweets with, you won't believe it, a smile. He may well revert to his despicable ways soon after, till next Diwali. But we will never know. And of course, Tinnu Anand will play the part.

It's the time of the year when an infernal kid brother will melt his sister's heart with a mere soupcon of thoughtfulness. Like buying her a cola so that he can scan the prize winning QR code on the label. That would give him sanction to be an unreachable itch in his sister's back the rest of the year.

Also read: Storyboard | E-commerce companies’ festive ad battle plans revealed

It's the time of the year when a hated harridan will return a tennis ball to a window breaking Rishabh Pant emulator. Along with a motichur laddu. The ad film maker will be chuffed that he thought of a paddle scoop instead of the cliched slog over midwicket.

It's the time of the year when a bigoted adherent of faith X will have an epiphanic change of heart that will make him share a 'moment' with a follower of faith Y (X and Y to be decided based on an analysis of benefit vs backlash).

It's the time of the year when fairy lights will be switched on in orphanages, old age homes, shelters for the homeless, and pandemic-stricken businesses by spreaders of  lump-in-the-throat-itis. The AD (account director) at the shoot will really enjoy saying, 'Camera... Action.... Lights'. The DoP (director of photography) knows that this is the 'money shot' of the film. He and his gaffers spent hours designing the lighting.

It's the time of the year when a stone hearted patriarch will buy a lehenga for his son who identifies as his daughter. The brand manager ticks a box in her KRAs. She has many more boxes to tick. Next stop, Valentine's Day. Or maybe, even Christmas. Damn, she had to let Children's Day go this year. Why did it have to come so close to Diwali?

Read more: Cadbury promotes local businesses with Shah Rukh Khan through AI in its viral Diwali ad

It's the time of the year when a little boy/girl with Mom/Dad's help will use compassion and technology (phone+facebook+printer+google) to rescue an abandoned puppy and find a loving home for it. What better day than Diwali for a dog to find a home?

It's the time of the year when a desi tucking into a taco from a food truck in San Diego, suddenly pines for his mother's flaky mathris. She always makes them for the gaggle of gambling guests who gather for Diwali. Casting can get enough foreigners for the food truck shot, and the location manager knows the perfect place to set it up.

It's also the time of the year for some creative team to sidestep the cliches, rise above the formula, dig deep into their skills, and pull out a classic for all times. Capturing the spirit of the festival in a way that only true artists can.
D. Ramakrishna is founder and creative director at Cartwheel.
first published: Oct 26, 2021 11:21 am

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