Sucheta Dalal :Aditya Birla Group: All sound no substance
Sucheta Dalal

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Aditya Birla Group: All sound, no substance  

March 19, 2010

The desi conglomerate Aditya Birla Group has released a brand new corporate campaign themed 'Let's reach for the sun'. The mysterious, esoteric commercial is a collage of people from different countries. Why different nations when the group is totally Indian? No idea. Perhaps they are trying to indicate global presence. Anyway, the commercial, from whatever little I could comprehend (it’s much too noisy and gimmicky for my taste), features music as a metaphor that con-joins people. And the shots are of people playing on various instruments in forests, jumping over mountains and skies, and one dude even sports a full-back tattoo (just in case you think Aditya Birla isn’t hep).  


I don’t know what goes on inside the clients’ minds when they sanction and pay for this stuff. The group has released such commercials in the past as well. The last one had ‘Vande Mataram’ being hummed in the background. Wonder why they went away from it. Perhaps all the controversies over the song may have had something to do with it. Be that as it may, here’s my problem with corporate advertising of this kind: it’s a colossal waste of money. The Aditya Birla Group commercials are notorious for being bloody expensive, they hire international directors and musicians, shoot in exotic locales and the post production gets done in even more exotic studios. Commercials like these tell us zilch about the company. They are self-indulgent blind spots, commercials that float by like David Ogilvy’s famous ships in the dark. A lot of computer effects and noises, and not much else. To put it simply, the Aditya Birla Group’s advert is akin to ‘Avatar’ minus any story. I read somewhere the client imagines that such commercials impart a distinctive personality to the group. But what good is that if at the end of all those crores down, I know as little of the group as I did thirty seconds earlier?


And to take care of that problem, they have committed one of the biggest sins of advertising: shove in flying supers (messages) across the already busy screen, that boast of the number of employees, number of nations the group has presence in and more such numbers. Totally ignoring the fact that with such fast effects and visual drama, it’s impossible for any normal eye to read all that data. In fact, I noticed the numbers after the fifth exposure, and that too as an ad critic, where it’s my job to watch ads pretty closely. Think of the already disinterested viewers who do many other things in life while watching TV ads!


Bottom-line: I just don’t understand why these large groups can’t simply and charmingly tell us what they do. Why blind us with technology and deafen us with sound, when the end result is a one-way communication? Guess we’ll never know the answer. Anil Thakraney

-- Sucheta Dalal