Business Today

Old ad jingles on the comeback trail

It's an old problem-how do ad agencies break the clutter on television and reach out to their target audience?

By Shamni Pande        Print Edition: Sept 23, 2007

It's an old problem-how do ad agencies break the clutter on television and reach out to their target audience? The ad frat has hit upon a solution that's also old. How? Revive popular old jingles and soundtracks. Several of them are back-the old Nirma jingle that took on and humbled the pride of the mighty Levers marketing machine and the all too familiar Hamara Bajaj score.

It's not as if hard-nosed marketers are succumbing to nostalgia without reason. "Today, re-mixes are a very accepted form of music for people and in a sense the ad world is coming a full circle. They are realising the worth of catchy tunes that they have created for brands in earlier decades," says Santosh Desai, MD & CEO, Future Brands. Desai, the former head of McCann Erickson in India, avidly tracks Bollywood and advertising trends, and feels that familiar old ad soundtracks are a great way of hooking customers.

Others are quick to agree. Says, K.V. Sridhar, National Creative Director, Leo Burnett: "This is a great way to break through the clutter. People recall ads that they so diligently watched in the 'DD days' when there was little choice. Today, when there is little time to grab their attention, familiar tunes with new visuals are a great way of holding their attention." So it's not surprising that many companies are falling back on signature tunes that had served them so well in the past. For example, Airtel, which used A.R. Rahman's catchy tune in 2003, is now harnessing it again.

The debate has many more strategic angles, apart from the one over ad clutter. The recent emerging example is the way in which UB Group's Kingfisher brand has been using the signature Oola la, Oleo tune for its premium water brand. In fact, this is one company that has used its brand and various mnemonics in a very consistent and deliberate manner to escape being accused of surrogate advertising. "There is a very contemporary approach to the way Kingfisher and Raymond bank on old music with new imagery, just as Hamara Bajaj has used a very new look to mesh with the score. Similarly, you have Titan that has sought to revive its old Mozart tune and even, at one point, tried a rock-like interpretation for it. All these are very powerful emotional bridges that brands build with consumers and it requires a lot of intelligence to work and change the imagery or the musical language without changing the grammar," says Josy Paul, National Creative Director, JWT.

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