Fun-filled, traumatic, joyous, troublesome, boring, cruel, pleasing, satisfying, challenging, tempting, misleading - yes Life is full of 'em - that is why life is so very SPECIAL - and yet the thrill is in "living" life! And all the accompanying ordeals are the frills attached with the thrills.

Friday, August 10, 2007

It's an ad ad world!

I remember when my friend who was pursuing his MBA talked about advertising. He gave an intersting point about the ads which seem quite lousy. His theory, or probably the general advertising theory was that, for ads to click they have to be extremely impressive or extremely lousy. As I was thinking about this yesterday, I traversed back in time to the days of black and white ads. Advertisements ever remain a child's first favourite on TV. And most of the old day ads, by today's standards, would have been dissmissed as being too lousy but still they did strike a chord with the viewers/listeners.

One of the early ads making a good reach to the viewers was the old Horlicks ad. It was a bit long but a very normal one and that too in B&W with different people in all age groups, from all walks of life, talking a line about Horlicks. There was a sports person, a person dressed as Ravana, a granny saying "Enga ammavum adhe koduppa" and the last line where a kid with a spoon in hand remarks "Kudikka vendam, appadiye saapiduven". This punch line, even to this day, remains a widely remembered ad line. I think much later came the Ujaala ad. There were even jokes and "just a minute" series with the Ujaala slogan : "Neeyum Ujaalavukku maaritiyaa?".

The Nirma song was like the ads' anthem. Everyone could sing it and everyone had their own parodies - one of the most popular one being "Washing Powder Nirma, Adupula vegudhu kurma!". Needless to say that even then there were countless rumours about the ad models then - though they did not get much attention at the models of today. It is often said that the girl in a frock swirling to the tune of the Nirma ad song was actually the daughter of the person who owned Nirma and that it was in her name that he started the company and that she died soon after she featured in the ad. The same is attributed to "Liril" soap ad models. The ad, inspite of its popularity, was supposedly a jinx for the models. Whoever would figure on it would since be deceased. Well it was obviously untrue!

Of the local ads, Idhayam nallennai's gained much popularity because of its ad line "Idhellam pombalainga samachaaram, poi idhayam nallenai vaangittu vaanga-na vaangittu vaangalen" and it also helped actress Chithra (often dubbed as "Nallennai" Chithra) gain some level of prominence. "Excuse me, neenga endha college?"... "College-a? naan-a?" as the model finishes this line, a kid comes running towards her shouting "Mummy....". This ad (was it Santoor or Rexona?) was also a fodder for many many parodies and "Excuse me, neenga endha college" almost became an expression for people looking younger beyond their age!!

One of my favourites then was the "Gold Spot" ad, more so because Gold Spot was my only choice for cool drink during those days. For a while Gold Spot also had Archie Comic characters behind the bottle crowns. The ad song went something like this "She is crazy about hitting an ace as crazy as he is about........... as crazy as crazy as we are about Gold Spot, the Zing thing, Gold Spot". And then Rasna! All the little girls who featured in the ads were so cute (infact one of them was the heroine opposite Prashanth in the Tamil movie 'London'). Though Rasna had just Orange flavour initially, it introduced "Mango Ripe" and the new ad became my instant favourite ("Endha samayam endha naalum Rasna Mango Ripe naaley").

The "Sunrise" coffee ad with its elegant signature tune and the cute picturisation with Suchitra Krishnamurthy in it was an instant hit. I think the soft music and a simple video did the trick. The Amrutanjan ad's slogan which goes like "Gaayab, hoy to, Poye poche, poyindhe, Chalegoche, It's gone... menmaiyaana suhamaana vegamaana nivarani, Amrutanjan Pain Balm meedum thandhidumae... ungalin punnagaiyai!" is something people recon with even today. The AVT premium Tea with its "Kaeteengala, kaeteengala..." had the interesting "Aaapapapapapa..." from Gautami (rather the voice that dubbed for her). We as kids then tried imitating that "aaapapappapa..." but with little success. None realised the male model in Leo Coffee would go on to become a popular hero - Arvind Swamy! Infact another ad of his - no, not the Cinthol ad - in which he goes to buy a Solidaire TV along with his on-screen wife Geetha. That was also a short and nice one. Speaking of Solidaire TV, I remember the old ad where a baby cries on watching a lion growling on TV, then the channel switches to cartoon and the baby is in all smiles. Finally the song end with a dance troupe dancing to the song "We want, we want true colours, we want we want clear sound, we know what we want, we want Solidaire... SO LI DA IRE...". Dynanora was another TV which also got lost down the line. Arun icecream also improved immensely on its video ads. They had a series of clippings showcasing all their flavours with the background song "I can see you... Arun icecream, I think I will lose my self-control... you make me lose, lose my self-control". It ends with a kid holding an ice candy stick and shivering with smiles - really cute!! In terms of visuals, "Regaul sottu neelam" made a similar mark; "Sottu neelam thoi, Regaul sottu neelam thoi... enna venmaiyo... aahaaa enna venmaiyo...". I think the ad received more popularity ever since it came to be known that the video was shot by ace cameraman P.C.Sreeram. This was followed later by another similar ad featuring Kushboo, who runs with a torch in hand and with the song "Endrum maara venmai idhu, Regaul venmai maaraadhu...".

"Thalai vali? jaladosham? mukkadaippu? aama pa aama..." was another famous ad line. Infact during late 80's there was a group which released a cassette called "Sirippo sirippu" where they mocked almost everything which was popular then - DD, popular ads, Kripanandha Variyar, Senthil-Goundamani-Janakaraj combo and this ad also had featured in that.

I used to love the voices behind the radio ads, Radio being "Chennai Vaanoli Nilayam - Vividh Bharathiyin Varthaga Oliparappu"! and had wildly imagined how the faces behind the voices would be. In all these years I could come across only one such person and that too on the Tuesday 7.30 pm DD drama. When he spoke his dialogue it immediately struck me that he was the voice behind the many ads on radio but no, it did not match the face which I had imagined ;-) I used to wonder then and even now if the time for ads overly surpassed the time alloted for songs on AIR! and I used to love the signature bell sound (ting tong) preceeding each ad. The typical radio ads with the bell sound would also remind me of my daily hussle-bussle mornings when I start to school. The "All India Radio" was always the morning background score at home - day after day! And who can forget the evergreen "Gopal palpodi"? ("Vennira parkalukku Gopal palpodi, thaechu paarunga Gopal palpodi, kaettu vaangunga Go paal pal podi!!") Surprisingly they did not change the song even when it was shown on TV for a short while (ofcourse, I dont see it anymore on TV these days). Then came the Archana Sweets ad "Inime late-a vandha Archana Sweets oda dhaan varanum". That ad line was later changed when Archana opened a couple of branches in Madras. And another good old ad was the "Roja paakku" ad. I could just go on and on, then ofcourse the "stores" ads like Saravana Stores, "Rathna Stores, Siva Complex, Pondy Bazaar", Vasanth and Co., Maniyammaal Texties, Sharada Stores (ending with "Chennai-2, Trichy-2"). The other typical radio ads being "Zandu Balm, Zandu Balm valigalai neekum balm...", Kalyanai covering, Nizam pakku.

In between, there also used to relay audio trailers for movies. Infact during nights, about one hour was allotted for such ads (under "Vilambaradharar vazhangum nigazchi"). That was a time when we could listen to new songs or atleast get a sample of it only thru' such forums. Doordarshan would not screen new songs. And we would eagerly have our ears glued to get jig-saw bits of the story, dialogues and songs. It would be interesting the way the "build-up" is generated in the ads with echoing effects, glaring sounds et al. And if one would stay awake (which generally doesnt happen because of restrictions at home owing to school the next day) so late to know about a film, it would his turn to brag about it the next day in the classroom.

I know many ads then did not have a catchy ad line, nor famous models or actors featuring in them, nor trendy sets or graphics but still they made an impact - for whatever reasons - and they still remain fresh - possibly because they did not have all those features which ads of today have and just humming old tunes of the ads or reciting ad lines would unfurl loads of memories - wouldn't they?