• Kartik Thakur

Ad Wars: Quarantine Edition

We are almost through with the strictest measures of quarantine and moving onto the UnlockDown mode, after being at home for more than two months now. This lockdown forced us into our homes, but brands were quick to utilise this time to put their best show possible. The time was tough, resources few. No set, no professional cameras. Just pure creativity! Here’s my critique on the ads that ruled this lockdown period world-wide. Trying to pour in a little dose of optimism through these ads that in my personal opinion ruled the quarantine! Which one’s have you missed? Catch them all here!

Bringing you 10 of the most awesome ads I have seen this Quarantine. Read in descending order of awesomeness ( best to good )

1) CocaCola: To The Human Race

I have always been a personal fan of CocaCola’s open Happiness theme. This ad brought back the same theme with the reasons to believe in the middle of the coronavirus crisis. Despite everything defeating us down, we’ll still fight against all odds. Where there are acts of selfishness and greed, there is also selflessness and kindness around the world. For optimism is more contagious than any contagion. For every virus, there is a vaccine in positivity.

It had me smiling like a bee while watching this one. It got a popular music track from The Script band in the background which was recognizable at the start of it and the whole ad was advertised without a single bottle of CocaCola in it! Still being in tune with their “Open Happiness” theme. Also, the people in the picture have a personal story of this pandemic as well. You can read their journey here.


2) Frito-Lay: It’s About People

Simple. Clear. No pompous optimistic tone. No selling chips. No logo change. No instructing you what to do in this pandemic. No asking for help. Just a simple message that they care and what they actually did to help in whatever way they can. They went against the tide and showed us that in this war of brands trying to get your attention, they told us it’s not about the ad, it’s not about the brand, it’s about the people. A very underrated advertisement yet very impactful.


3) HDFC Bank : Hum Haar Nahi Manenge

What do you get when you mix A R Rehman, Prasoon Joshi, the best-talented singers in India and the theme of resilience to fight back Corona. A COVID India Anthem! HDFC got them all on board to give us this brilliant piece of music right from everyone’s home studio. Creative and musical finesse! Every time this video is shared, HDFC Bank will contribute Rs.500 to the PM-CARES Fund. I could recognize – Mohit Chauhan, Shruti Hasaan, Clinton Cerejo, Jonita Gandhi, Neeti Mohan & Mika Singh. How many did you?


4) Bajaj Allianz : #CarewillOvercome

If you saw the video, you would have probably hummed the song in your mind! Fine-tuned

We Shall Over Come / Hum Honge Kamyaab to renditions in different languages from around the world. Gave me goosebumps !


5) Dove : Courage is Beautiful

This ad was conceptualized by Ogilvy Canada and if I could just define the campaign in three words - Raw. Authentic. Impactful. It shows us the raw faces of the frontline workers, no makeup, no touch-ups, no fancy lipstick & eyeliner clad models. Ogilvy Canada ( the agency behind the campaign ) did it's research well and brought light to a simple detail of the scars left on the faces of the healthcare & front-line workers after wearing PPE masks and kits for long durations. What they made us see was not just the scars but also the effort and fight the front line workers put up, with the idea that “ Courage is Beautiful "

Source Dove Instagram

6) Ohio Department of Health

The Ohio Department of Health has a powerful message for the public: Social distancing works.

The agency tweeted a video illustrating a demonstration of chain reactions using ping pong balls

and mouse traps to get its point across as people nationwide are urged to practice social

distancing. The idea was new & creative. Execution Simple. Message Simple. Impact Great !


7) Cadbury : Thank you

Just how silky & sweet their chocolates are so is their message in this ad. For the first time in 70 years, Cadbury rebranded their chocolate bars saying thanks to the unsung heroes of our lives who have made our life simpler despite this pandemic. This is in line with their staple message Say it with chocolate. The message would be communicated in 8 Indian languages & the money from the sales would be used to fund health insurance policies of daily wagers. This was amongst the shortest of the ads in this series I’ve compiled yet an absolute joy to watch. A further refinement to it would have been if the campaign showed doctors and frontline workers instead.


8) Tata Parvesh : Shut Out Corona with #DoorsOfIndia

The #DoorsofIndia will remain closed for as long as it takes as #indiafightscorona.

What’s unique about this ad is that unlike the others with imagery of stranded doors,

Frontline workers, they stayed strictly within the boundaries of their product category &

Used limited resources – only imagery of doors from nook & corner of the country

and a well-crafted song made only with the sound of doors closing. What it hit was not the mind but the subconscious mind! How impactful !


9) Uber : Thank you for not riding

What I loved most about this idea was the message. The company is on the verge of falling down, business is not business as usual, no one is booking cabs and they fall into the businesses most hit by the pandemic ! Still they thanked their customers not booking a ride with them. Can you imagine a company convincing you not to buy it’s product in it’s ad ? I believe this kind of humility and trust goes a long way in brand building. The added plus was the real authentic images of people spending time indoors touching on the aspects of the new normal.


10) Asian Paints : Har Ghar Kuch Kehta Hai

What I loved about this ad was genuine and authentic communication. Not selling you the paint itself but celebrating the little moments we are spending at home in this lockdown. They covered every aspect of it, staying indoors. And the voice over narrative by the Ad Mogul Mr. Piyush Pandey was a joy to hear, like someone narrating a poem.


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