A bold difference between the best advertising films (television and internet) of India and abroad made in 2018 is that while Indian advertisers aimed to strike an emotional chord with the audience – or, sometimes, preached to it – internationally, advertisers experimented with the language of their trade and tried to be more fun than sappy.
Additionally, most of the creative Indian ad films in 2018 featured top-drawer celebrities, while outside India, the concept was the king. The Indian ads were also more verbose and explanatory than their international counterparts.
One of the best advertising films of the year internationally was for a global laundry detergent brand. Filled with meta-humour, it sent up the age-old clichés of advertising filmmaking. In contrast, one of India’s top ad films in 2018, which was for a consumer goods company, was a deadly serious attempt at generating empathy for those living in the most remote corners of the country.
Here are 20 Indian and international advertising films (above and below) with some of the most interesting, fun and creatively risky content produced in 2018. We start with ten Indian advertising films from India.
Top 10 Indian advertising films
Kit Kat #BreakHaiBanta Hai: The Dangal (2016) sisters Sanya Malhotra and Fatima Sana Sheikh get their hair down and do the shimmy in this ad for Kit Kat chocolates. The mutual comfort and chemistry between Malhotra and Sheikh are evident as they dance with abandon in the middle of a European street in broad daylight (video above).
The 100 years journey of Britannia: Although Britannia started operating in the biscuits business from Kolkata 126 years ago, it was turned into a limited company by an English businessman only in 1918. The 100-year journey of the company was commemorated in this lovely ad film which stitches several moments across an Indian’s life where someone reached out for a Britannia product. At one point, even a robot in the near future is enjoying a Britannia biscuit.
Kotak 811 #IndiaInvited: This ad for the Kotak Mahindra Bank, featuring Ranveer Singh, cleverly strikes a balance between being creative, generating empathy, establishing brand connect, and being a bit preachy all at the same time. Singh takes up the problems people face on a day to day basis because of how their gender, ethnicity, physical appearance or religion come in the way of true equality. That is nicely tied up with the bank’s motto of not differentiating between customers approaching it to start a digital bank account.
Pepsi’s “The Adventures of Hunny and Choocha”: The Fukrey films turned its characters into such household names that Pepsi put them in an ad film. The ad makes use of the character’s traits to sell the idea of how the soft drink is a must-have with any snack, no matter the situation. Pulkit Samrat, Varun Sharma and Manjot Singh, who play Hunny, Choocha and Lalli respectively in the Fukrey films, reprise their roles in the ad.
Fortune Foods’ “Pet Pujo”: YouTube personality and Bengali singer/composer Sawan Dutta brings her trademark flourishes of fun lyrics and easy tunes to this food-themed ad for the Durga Puja season. Dutta spins a story with her song in the two-and-a-half minute video where Dutta represents the hassled Bengali woman who has to cook and feed her famished man during the puja. This fun ad unfortunately drew brickbats from Hindutva groups this year, as it depicted a couple eating fish and mutton. Fortune Foods sent out a hasty apology but the ad was embraced wholeheartedly by its target viewership.
Hindustan Unilever’s “Start A Little Good”: What happens when a swank bathing shower is dropped in a dry Rajasthan village just like the black extraterrestrial monolith that appears out of nowhere among a community of apes in 2001: A Space Odyssey? What is merely an accessory for many becomes the lifespring for countless Indians who do not have the most basic access to water across India.
Samsonite’s #KeralaIsOpen: How would god’s own country get back on its feet after the deadliest flood it had seen in almost a century ravaged its people, settlements, industries and livelihoods? This poignant ad from the Samsonite luggage manufacturing company looks at four lives in Kerala which have come to a standstill after the floods since they are dependant on the tourism industry. The only thing that can bring sunshine back in their lives is the support of the rest of India’s people.
Naukri.com’s “Dragging Yourself to Work”: In this fun ad film, no one is willing to wake up in the morning and get ready for one more day at their office. But how they (literally) drag themselves to work here is where the ad scores. Of course, Naukri.com comes to the rescue.
GoDaddy’s Bijness Bhai campaign Mahendra Singh Dhoni stars as a laid-back and know-it-all business pundit called Bijness Bhai in a series of ads for web-hosting and domain registrar company GoDaddy. Small-town traders rush to Bijness Bhai seeking instant solutions for their business problems. Bijness Bhai asks them to set up their business online using GoDaddy’s services.
Mi Band HRX’s #StartWhatYouCantStop Indian percussionist Taufiq Qureshi and music producer Hugo Goggin’s Indian classical-meets-electronic score powers this fast-paced ad film. Shots of sweaty individuals pushing their bodies to achieve peak fitness are rapidly inter-cut with each other. In the end, Hrithik Roshan makes an appearance. The ad’s top-notch production values and aesthetics make this a standout.
Tata Tiscon celebrates Engineer’s Day: On the occasion of Engineer’s Day, which is celebrated in India on September 15, Tata Tiscon released an ad film dedicated to the can-do mentality of engineers. At the end of a camping trip, while one engineering student looks forward to a job in New York, the other aims to build facilities in India’s most remote corners. When the threat of an all-night mosquito attack looms, it is the true engineer who rises to the occasion.
Top 10 international advertising films
Alexa Loses Her Voice: When Alexa, Amazon’s virtual assistant, loses her voice, various celebrities step into her shoes, which leads to disastrous results. Amazon’s 90-second Super Bowl spot this year was one of the most hilarious ad films to be released in 2018 and it rightfully went viral as soon as it was rolled out. How entertaining is this? Imagine asking Alexa the recipe to a grilled cheese sandwich, and there’s angry chef Gordon Ramsay on the other end to (not) help you.
Jeep Super Bowl: In one of the few star-studded commercials on the international list, Jeff Goldblum outruns a Tyrannosaurus Rex with panache thanks to his Jeep Wrangler car. The Jeep ad combines footage of Goldblum’s character Ian Malcolm driving his car away from the vicious T-Rex dinosaur in Jurassic Park (1993) with freshly shot footage of a present-day Goldblum still trying to escape the dinosaur’s claws.
Tourism Australia Super Bowl: Danny McBride wants to tour the length and breadth of Australia and have deadly adventures like a Crocodile Dundee 2.0. Alas, he is stuck in a wonderful Tourism Australia ad which flows like a movie trailer. McBride slowly starts to realise that there are no adventures in store and Australia is a rather peaceful and beautiful place to explore. Accompanying him is his cheerful host, played by Chris Hemworth.
Doritos Blaze versus Mountain Dew Ice: The ad is fairly simple in its concept, and yet it is so much fun to watch because of the way the two hallmark actors, Peter Dinklage and Morgan Freeman, sink their teeth into their characters in this one-minute affair. Dinklage, representing Doritos Blaze, and Freeman, representing Mountain Dew Ice, engage in a rap battle. Dinklage lipsyncs to verses by Busta Rhymes while Freeman has Missy Elliot by his side. To note: both products are owned by PepsiCo company.
Tide Super Bowl: This is a candidate for the ad film to end all ad films. Television advertising has come a long way and now viewers can spot what an ad is going to sell and how it is going to sell that product mere seconds after it has begun. The Tide Super Bowl commercial pokes fun at the clichés of advertising films and it trolls just about all existing templates for commercials for any and every product. You have to see it to really get it.
Newport Beach Film Festival 2018’s “Quota”: Two miners on an alien planet are condemned to search for a mysterious blue mineral in this brooding science-fiction-themed advertising film. In its aesthetics, it is reminiscent of the dystopian series Black Mirror and Ridley Scott’s Alien films. That it is all supposed to be a build-up for an advertisement of a film festival, and how, is just remarkable to think about.
Monoprix’s “The Worst Song In The World”: Your hands could be free – if only you shopped online through the website of the French retail chain, Monoprix. And when they are not, you might get attacked by The Worst Song In The World, and you could not do anything to take off your headphones. In this offbeat advertisement, a woman is driven to tears by a most terrible song that pops up in her playlist, and she can do nothing about it as she is holding on to giant shopping bags with her hands. The genius of the song is what makes it work.
Apple’s “Welcome Home” After making a fantastic (and viral) dance-based ad for luxury fashion house Kenzo in 2016, visionary director Spike Jonze directed a beautiful film for Apple’s speaker Homepod in 2018. Pop singer FKA Twigs comes home after a hard day’s work. While listening to Anderson .Paak’s Til It’s Over, she gets lost in the rhythm and so does her entire room, as it changes shape and size to accommodate her dance moves. The visual effects are tied in to the product’s concept – Homepod adapts to the listener’s position in a house and produces high-quality audio at that exact spot.
John Lewis and Partners’ #EltonJohnLewis: The Christmas ad from high-end department store chain John Lewis and Parnets nudges you to get a gift this Christmas for “some gifts are more than just a gift.” Exhibit A is Elton John, who stars in this ad. John gazes wistfully over his piano and the film goes back in time glossing over the young pop sensation’s early days till it stops at the point when a young John has just been gifted his first piano.
Nike’s “Dream Crazy”: It is not easy to pull off an emotional ad film in a cynical 2018 without appearing sentimental or clichéd. But Nike’s Dream Crazy ad does the impossible. American football player Colin Kaepernick narrates the story of 16 athletes who dreamt big and achieved greatness in sports. Some of these are Charle Jabaley, who once weighed 300 pounds, but went on to become an Ironman triathlon professional, tennis player Serena Williams, professional boxer Zeina Nassar, and wheelchair-bound Megan Blunk who is a star basketball player, among others. The theme of the commercial is “Don’t ask if your dreams are crazy. Ask if they’re crazy enough.”
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