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Storyboard18 | Ads parody ads: How does it work?

They aren’t exactly the bloody Cola Wars of yore. But brands are getting cheekier in commercials, spoofing other brands' ads. The question is, who is laughing?

November 25, 2021 / 01:15 PM IST
Magicpin's new parody ad features actor Vijay Raaz advising a distraught customer to buy from branded offline stores rather than listening to kids and shopping on an app. (Image: screen grab)

Magicpin's new parody ad features actor Vijay Raaz advising a distraught customer to buy from branded offline stores rather than listening to kids and shopping on an app. (Image: screen grab)

In April 2021, while Cred’s commercial featuring gentleman-turned-Indiranagar-ka-gunda Rahul Dravid spread like wildfire on the Internet, discovery and rewards platform magicpin was quietly scripting a spoof. In four days, magicpin released a parody ad film about “asli savings” versus “bread points” that directly took on the wildly popular Cred ad.

Seven months later, magicpin is back with another parody commercial, this time featuring ‘kidults’ - e-commerce giant Flipkart’s popular ad characters. It stars the common-sense talking actor Vijay Raaz who advises a distraught customer to buy from branded offline stores rather than listening to kids and shopping on an app.

Ankit Kumar, AVP - brand and marketing, magicpin, tells Storyboard18 that the company is not taking a ‘cola-brand war’ strategy through these campaigns. “The brand characters that we have used are a part of popular culture. They have done something right to have gained so much attention. We are just leveraging that to make our proposition loud and clear,” he adds.

Swiggy has also been using characters and scenes from popular ads to promote its grocery delivery service - Swiggy Instamart. So far, the brand has spoofed 5 Star's Ramesh-Suresh ads, Colgate’s famous campaign 'Kya aapke toothpaste mein namak hai?, and Taj Mahal tea’s 'Wah Taj!' commercials which featured Zakir Hussain. In the latest film, Swiggy has parodied the iconic Liril girl commercial.

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Sagar Kapoor, chief creative officer, Lowe Lintas, the ad agency behind the campaign, tells Storyboard18 that over the years some advertisements have etched themselves in consumers’ memory. “We wanted to create something that would break the clutter. Therefore, it was important to create a distinctive positioning, given the number of grocery delivery brands that have been advertising,” says Kapoor. Swiggy Instamart competes with brands like BigBasket, Grofers, Dunzo, among others. Kapoor says humour cuts across consumer segments easily, and it allows brands like Swiggy to be more relatable.

Interestingly, the latest ads for MFine, an AI-driven on-demand healthcare service, features actor Naresh Gosain, who is famously known as 'Swiggy Uncle’.  In Swiggy’s ads, he was seen secretly ordering gulab jamun for himself, and 'Swiggy Aunty’, his on-screen wife, played by Padmashree Josalkar, always caught him in the act. In the MFine spots, however, she is seen secretly booking an at-home test to check his blood sugar levels. Blame it on the gulab jamuns.

Harshil Karia, the founder of Schbang India, says, “The thing with distinct characters is that it drives memorability and it gives directors the ability to push that little more on performance.” For consumers, “you'll often see that this kind of a character is someone they will find in a friend. So it's almost a mirrored relatability of sorts. A relatability  you find in someone else. Hence, it appeals well,” he adds.

However, while humour works, parody ads cater to a small consumer base who recall ads.

Manoj Jacob, senior creative director at ad agency BBDO India, thinks these original ads were memorable and the parody ads are funny, in his view as an adman. But, he says, “Advertising isn’t made for advertising and marketing professionals, but ordinary people. Who sadly don’t really care too much for most advertising.” He also says brands can avoid following a format or trend that all other brands are chasing.

“Doing what everyone else is doing is the antithesis of any creative endeavour. If you need to stand out, you zig when the others zag,” Jacob says.

MFine parody ad based on Flipkart's kidadults commercials. Parody ads work if viewers recognise the original, and appreciate the twist. (Image: screen grab) Magicpin parody ad based on Flipkart's 'kidults' commercials. Parody ads work only if viewers recognise the original, and appreciate the twist. (Image: screen grab)
Priyanka Nair is Assistant Editor of Storyboard. Storyboard is Network18's flagship platform focussed on the advertising & marketing community and a leading source of news and analyses on the business of brands

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