Sticking to the script

Over all these years, men haven’t changed and so haven’t Imperial Blue ads 

Men are willing to ride the elevator up and down, suck in their stomachs, pretend to do deadlifts and give up their aisle seat in a flight, all to impress a woman. While their actions largely backfire, Imperial Blue does not miss its chance to depict these everyday situations in a tongue-in-cheek manner. Conceptualised around two decades ago, the whisky brand’s ‘Men will be men’ tagline continues to be a hit with the masses, and now has a new ad in its lineup.

“This campaign has a successful legacy of delivering unforgettable films that celebrate the lighter side of life. With every rendition, the campaigns have become richer and more memorable,” says Kartik Mohindra, chief marketing officer, Pernod Ricard India. In the new 30-second film, a man is seen waiting at a crossing when he suddenly notices a woman walking towards him. In order to get her attention, he helps an old lady cross the street. The woman, obviously impressed by his empathetic behaviour, smiles. Midway, he sees another woman behind him and decides to use the same trick. He takes the old lady back in the opposite direction, thus implying ‘men will be men’.

“Coming up with these scripts, although one of the most difficult creative task, is a fun-filled one,” says Ritu Sharda, chief creative officer, Ogilvy North, adding that the challenge mainly rests on coming up with a ‘men-ism’ that is different and even better than the last time. One would think it is difficult to top the iconic ‘Rose darling’ ad in which a man asks his friend about flowers in order to recollect his wife’s name. But, the brand has successfully managed to show a different situation each time. “We have been able to sustain this proposition through quirky ads with smart humour,” says Mohindra.

Made over the course of two and a half months, the new ad featuring Karan Wahi has over five million views on YouTube. “Casting Wahi was a masterstroke as he embodies the spirit of the man who would indulge in this innocent, yet naughty, attempt of impressing a girl in such manner,” says Sharda. The ad is underlined by ‘pyar ki raah mein chalna seekh’, a popular two-phrase ghazal composed especially for the campaign. Over the past decade, with its rising popularity, people have composed full tracks for it.

While the legacy and the brand’s message is being taken forward via effective surrogate advertising, many might find the films sexist in nature for depicting women as objects of desire. However, Sharda refutes this, saying, “Over the years, it has been loved by both women and men equally. It is simply about putting forward entertaining, light-hearted observations on how men behave in regular, everyday situations.” This disclaimer is where the fine line lies. Without it, the messaging can be crass, but the brand knows how to tread the line.