Issue :   
November 2018 Edition of Power Politics is updated.         November 2018 Edition of Power Politics is updated.
Issue:November' 2018


Simple is attractive too !

Purnima Sharma

Amitava Dasgupta With magical r e a l i s m becoming the new buzzword in advertising, more real and regular people are being brought in to sell products Plain and ordinary can be beautiful too. And that is what the world of advertising is slowly coming to assert through many of its campaigns. Remember the newspaper report sometime back that stated that some fashion giants are taking concerted steps to stop using ultra-thin models? And by bringing in real, regular and relatable models make their campaigns more realistic and appealing to consumers. Here in India, when an advertisement for a beauty soap introduced regular WLUs (Women Like Us) subtly talking about how using it over just a few days changed the way they looked, there was an immediate connect with the viewers, and consumers were quick to give the brand their stamp of approval.

A campaign shot by Ashish Chawla Little wonder then, many in the advertising world started asserting that simple is attractive too, translating this mindset into their campaigns as well. "This is what's called magical realism at play," says ace photographer Rohit Chawla. "It's about creating a completely new world that is not just about entertainment but one that offers semi-real situations with real-life characters to make a point.
The smarter ones in business have already made a push in that direction” he adds. Having worked on countless campaigns with unknown, even ordinary, people-next-door, he says the challenge is to create magic out of the normal, everyday situations. Something akin to Ashley Graham's new collection for Swimsuits for All.
As a BBC report states, this collection is being promoted with untouched, unedited photos of plus-size models. In doing away with the normal norm of retouched images, the campaign is all about asserting, as Ashley says, that "being authentic is beautiful".
Authenticity is something that's more than evident in Sanjay Garg's campaigns. Instead of having his beautiful sarees draped around stunning models with hour-glass figures, he prefers having those "women (of substance)" who not just appreciate but also buy and wear his creations to model them for him.
"When you see such women in my ads, you can relate to them," asserts the Gurgaon-based fashion designer who has made the Chanderi and Benarasi fabrics the buzzword among fashionistas. And shooting the campaign in their place of work or home, or even in an unusual backdrop creates a magic that is visually appealing, adds the designer.

Shot by Chawla Garg remembers a shoot he'd done in the Barsane village of Uttar Pradesh in which a woman wearing a stunning chanderi sari stands against the backdrop of a dilapidated hut as a group of village women look on. "In another, the bright orange of the sari has been highlighted by the green colour smeared on the model's face giving the picture a very dramatic feel." All these photographs, he asserts, help in reiterating the 'innocence' of his work and the fabric of chanderi in particular. New, unknown faces add not just innocence but also an innate simplicity and charm to a campaign, says veteran photographer Amitava Dasgupta who enjoys working on "character-oriented themes" in his projects. And when some advertisers prefer working with big stars in their campaigns it is because their marketing strategy dictates they "get a brand ambassador for their product", he states.

A Chawla shot However, new faces that he likes to work with "score over the established ones and even the stars because they can fit into more or less any character of the product. In the case of stars, it's evident that they are playing a part -- and that's something advertisers are giving a re-think to". According to him, newcomers not just start off on a clean slate but also bring in a certain amount of enthusiasm and energy levels to their work. "But, while this is a huge plus point on many levels, their lack of experience and taking time to deliver the right look and expressions can get a little problematic," says Dasgupta whose team ensures they follow some "homework and essential tasks that include not just watching videos and clips of similar characters they're to portray but also practising the look in front of the mirror".

Sanjay Garg’s non-professional But shoot with ordinary people, he lets on, "does not mean you pick just about anyone and put them in front of the camera. What works is the ‘character’ on their faces -- the look that people can relate to".
It is this 'character' that is suddenly making Lt Col Nitin Mehta, a rank newcomer in the modelling biz, the face of several campaigns. The former Armyman remembers being surprised when, as he was waiting for his flight in an airport lounge, a fashion photographer told him to give modelling a shot. "He told me I had that special look that would work well in the modelling biz.," says Mehta who, in the past 18 months since he started, already has got some interesting ad campaigns to his credit. "And the fact that I am a new, unknown face has worked to my advantage," he adds.
An unusual, even unconventional face -- "one with a certain amount of spark" -- is what makes a campaign interesting and different, says adguru Prahlad Kakkar, a veteran of the advertising world, best known for his work on the beverages ads featuring Amitabh Bachchan and Sachin Tendulkar.

Casting, according to him, has become such an integral part of good advertising. "While stars add their magic to the brand and make it aspirational -- like the beauty soap that has been featuring only beautiful film actresses over the years, there are campaigns in which film-stars would not work. That's where you bring in faces that look real, relatable and credible," he says.

Lt Col Nitin Mehta on the ramp However, it doesn't always stop with the look alone -- the campaign also needs someone who can act the part convincingly. That's when, Kakkar says, "a lot of theatre people come into the picture. They can underact, and because nobody knows them, the idea comes across very well -- very credibly.”
This trend, he adds, started some years ago "when some stars, on one hand, came across as too stiff and too beautiful for some products while on the other, were also cannibalizing the campaign – with people remembering them and not the product!"
Agreeing with this, fashion photographer Ashish Chawla remembering his shoot with a foreign model for an Indian clothing brand says, "Campaigns must be such that people remember the product, not the model so much."
So, when he suggested a change, and insisted that that this ad would have a greater impact with an Indian face, approval wasn't easily forthcoming. But his persistence paid off and the initial disapproval was soon forgotten when the campaign became a hit.
Chawla goes on to give another example -- about a mobile network campaign that started off with actually picking people off the street for their campaigns. "Although it was interesting, that somehow didn't work because the advertisers felt the models weren't aspirational enough. Finally, a slight tweak brought in unknown faces like college students and young executives who added the 'missing link and value' to the brand," he adds. And the campaign was deemed a success!