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  • Writer's pictureSamradni

Surrogate Advertising at its best

Updated: Mar 14, 2021


Imperial Blue music CDs




Ogilvy & Mather

This is one of those campaigns which always brings a smile to my face whenever I see any of the ads.

The irony that being a girl, I can totally relate to what is communicated in these ads, speaks volumes about the creativity of the campaign.

Advertising Background:

The tagline ‘Men will be Men’ is 22yrs old and was conceptualized by Ogilvy itself.

This campaign comprised of a series of advertisements under the same tagline, the same tongue-in the cheek humor and relatability quotient.

Advertising Objective:

The objective of the campaign is to portray real-life situations where men try different tactics to impress or just grab the attention of the opposite sex.

They take real-life incidents and ensure the relatability connect to be top-notch.

Of course, the ads follow, what in theoretical terms is called Surrogate Advertising because it’s illegal to advertise alcohol, openly in India.

Advertising Execution:

It’s a series of ads under the same tagline and all of them follow the same premise of downplayed humor and connect with young Indian men.

It highlights how every time the man tries to impress a woman, he comes across an obstacle that prevents this from happening.

What’s really fun though is how they portray the man to be confident irrespective and still emerge as a winner.

All the ads include this ghazal/song ‘Pyaar ki rah mein chalna seekh’ which itself has a direct connect with the brand, even if you are in some other room and hear this song in the background, you can still make out it’s an Imperial Blue ad.

These ads run mainly on television and digital media.

Advertising Learnings:

I believe surrogate advertising is a tough nut to crack because there are too many things needed for them to work.

The most important one is bridging the gap between brand sales and target audiences connect.

However, Imperial Blue does this very well.

The brand typically targets men in the 25-40 age group and what they have attempted is, creating a strong connect with the consumers itself, and letting the brand play second fiddle.

The subtle situational comic scenes used in the ads are very similar to the kind of stories that typical young Indian men would share with their friends over drinks.

The aim of the ads is to make the men smile consciously and for the women to condescendingly relate to ‘men will be men’.

An important point to consider is the fact that the brand chose to stick to the same premise, same execution for years, but also ensured to keep the story-line evolved.

This campaign is a great example to prove that though a ban on product advertising acts as an obstacle, few brands have the potential to take surrogate advertising to the next level!

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