June 12, 2018

Let’s face it. Advertisements have been around us for as long as we can remember. From the early BTV days to even these days of OLED TV, advertisements have always been a constant. Yes, the lengthy gaps between your favorite TV shows might have been quite annoying back in the day (similar to the 5-second pop-up ads of today’s internet), but what made them pretty interesting were the elements that integrated to craft a nice, compelling 15 second story.


We’ve often heard that children, specifically the toddlers, have a unique affinity towards advertisement. I mean, I was quite a huge fan of the “Mon Cherry” ad growing up. The jingle captivated me from every angle possible.  As an individual belonging to Generation X and somewhat having the traits of Millenials, I grew up in the early 2000s, watching WWF (what is currently WWE) and drooling over Toy Story. Bangladeshi advertisements have sure come a long way ever since. The “Maacher Raja Ilish” ad of Philips was phenomenal back in the day. In the school days, the melodic jingle of “Danish” or even the playful one from “RC Cola” ad were always at the tip of our tongue, ready to be hummed with friends in unison. Slowly growing up, we got to watch the “Cholona Bashundharay Jai” ad from Bashundhara Group and were even exposed to the energetic, vibrant Djuice ads. 


Speaking from a Bangladeshi context, I think advertisements made in this country, catering to our local/foreign brands, speaks volumes about who we are, what we do and our traditions as a whole. For example the Mother’s Day campaigns by Robi and Grameenphone. The ideas were quite powerful on their own, but putting them on video format (i.e. advertisements) have enabled the consumers to look into expressions, the sheer excitement of the cast and their candid remarks. What this does is that it gives the viewer an opportunity to connect with the story even more and understand the concept, and to apply it into their own lives.  Another great example can be Grameenphone’s “Shopno Jaabe Bari Amar” ad. Going to our ancestral homes or “Desh er Baari” as we put it, in every Eid, Puja or Christmas holiday and spending the time with our loved ones is almost a mandatory practice for the everyday Bangladeshis. It goes on to prove how loving, affectionate and nurturing we are as a population. That is exactly the emotion which Grameenphone tapped into. Portraying the massive traffic jams on highways, the long hours of being on the road and lastly the breathtaking smile of finally being able to see the loved one – all these makes the full-length advertisement a candy for the eyes. At 3 minutes, the ad takes you through almost every emotion that you might have while getting back home to see your dear ones after a good few number of months.



Bangladesh, with its 64 districts, is home to a diverse population with many having their own culture, regional language and their own

distinctive lifestyle. Now the challenge for every advertiser/marketer is to cater to these population as a whole. But the diversity seems to be a constant barrier. People might ‘understand’ the message being portrayed, but they might not be able to ‘connect’ to what is being said – resulting in a potential loss in terms of brand recall or recognition. Airtel has clearly identified this dilemma and took steps accordingly. In a span of few months, it has released ads targeting specific regions. The best part – the ads are made my artists who belong to those regions and the lyrics are based on regional dialects. For example, the Sylhet based ad of Airtel was made by Fuad Almuqtadir and portrayed all the amazing things that Sylhet has to offer. This “Bondhu bala aso ni” ad has been streamed over a million times on Social media and has garnered response from Silotis and non-Silotis alike. The follow-ups to this was the Airtel ad based on Chittagong and Khulna-Barishal.


Advertisements made in Bangladesh often make us take a step back and put our conscience to the test. Banglalink once erupted the entire advertisement industry with its “Din Bodoler Pala” ad back in 2011. The story depicted the everyday struggles of a marginalized fisherman and how the middlemen deprived him of the fair share of the price. Crafting the story from the viewpoint of the fisherman’s son and using a father-son tragedy to captivate the audience, the plot subtly talked about a higher cause – how the rural population of our country was constantly falling behind in terms of development and urbanization.


Contrary to popular belief, Bangladeshi ads are not about sad, deep, high-thought storylines. Many advertisers have cleverly utilized humor to craft memorable ads for the consumers. Ananta Jalil’s advertisement for Grameenphone is one prime example. The ad showed AJ in the footsteps of James Bond, aptly dressed in expensive suits and kicking villains with his shades on. His evergreen punchline, “Oshombhob ke shombhob korai Ananta-er kaaj” is nothing short of The Godfather’s “I’ll make you an offer you can’t refuse”. The dialogue, matched with his charismatic Bangla-cinema’s hero-infused look still triggers roars of laughter to many. The ads for Frutika’s “Ektu beshi e pure” campaign also serves the same purpose. It talks about politicians, a university going student and cleverly combines the beverages ‘purity’ and the character’s ‘integrity’ in humorous plots. 


The formula or the essence of creating advertisements that provoke to human thoughts is virtually the same – mark the consumer’s passion points, craft a story that weaves the brand and the consumer on the same thread. The more interesting part is that advertisements, despite catering to target customers of various geographic regions, have often shed light to topics that needed to be brought in front of the world, resolved and taken steps about.


India, despite being a very powerful economy, still has a long way to go in terms of empowering women. According to UN Human Development Report’s (2016) Gender Inequality Index, our neighboring country lies at the 125th position, out of 125 countries. In Gender Gap Index (World Economic Forum) 2017, its position is 108th out of 144 countries. The statistics do point out the innate problem that the country has been suffering from.

Until Samsung India decided to spark a revolution. Aptly utilizing their technological expertise, Samsung decided to form a joint collaboration with the Ministry of Micro, Medium and Small Enterprises alongside various state governments to establish 20 Samsung Technical Schools all across India. These schools nurture the hopes of millions of girls spread all across rural India.

The advertisement for this campaign has been equally breathtaking. With the entire set being located in Rajasthan, the ad delves into the story of a girl, who, despite all the obstacles of being stereotyped, perseveres to become an engineer and reach out to the community later on.


While this might be a very diplomatic issue, a very ‘unusual’ brand has ‘befittingly’ carved a beautiful story out of it. The ad starts with a 70-year old man reminiscing to his grand-daughter about his old days, specifically mentioning how he and his best friend used to hang-out in Lahore back in the days; before the partition split them to stay in two different countries. Curious, the granddaughter collects bits and pieces of information from the internet and gets to find a contact that might lead to her grandfather’s best friend in Lahore. She secretly gets in touch and tells the person on the other end to make arrangements. Her contact person gets Visa appointment via Internet search and at long last, the two friends get to meet each other after decades. Two friends, separated by nationality, comes and embraces each other with open arms. The entire reunion has been fueled by the granddaughter’s ability to search the internet, getting in touch, booking the Visa and so on. The brand which made this advertisement? Google India.  


This is quite new; and trailblazing. For years, computer games have been synonymous to obese, brace-wearing ‘nerds’, who can sit in front of a PC screen for hours, playing one, lengthy, monotonous game. Until recently the entire industry turned upside down and ‘changed the game’! From massive sponsorship deals to hosting sold-out crowds for the tournaments – the entire e-Sports industry seems to have a complete face lift. But the world tore apart when a brand as lush and elegant as Mercedes Benz decided to portray this segment of urban subculture in one of their ads. The “Grow up in e-Sports” is an advertisement that belongs to Mercedes’ recent “Grow Up” campaign featuring its latest car models. With a normal set of body copies like “Grow up”, “Get a job”, “Start a family”, the ad shows completely polarizing visuals – taking the viewer through a roller coaster ride of adrenaline; matched with the groovy, techno-infused beat.

Quite interestingly, Gillete has also followed the same path; with the brand sponsoring a renowned North American e-Sports team and shooting a TV commercial on them.


With refugee crisis being one of the most talked about issues lately, it is quite rare to see a brand directly addressing this issue and creating a campaign. IKEA proved to be an outlier. With their latest campaign, IKEA partnered with Jordan River Foundation in order to create hundreds of jobs for Syrian female refugees coming to Jordan. The advertisement has been shot in the secluded regions of Jordan and clearly portrays the destitute and poverty that the refugees live in. It shows the struggles of a refugee and how she struggles to provide for her family, up until IKEA steps in and helps her out via the campaign by providing hands-on training to her, enabling her to create handicrafts and displaying them later on.


American has been troubled lately due to mass shootings rooted from racial discrimination. Nike, being one of the widely recognized brands all across the globe, decided to address this issue. With the core message “Equality has no boundaries”, the advertisement portrays Lebron James, Serena Williams as well as a series of other athletes and actors all removing the lines of inequality; and all congregating at one place to establish the core theme that America is indeed the land of ‘equal’ opportunities.

I think this is what makes the art of advertisement so fascinating. With dozens of things taking place all across the globe simultaneously, brands can often keep track of what to do and what not do. That is where this intriguing method of storytelling comes in. From the examples mentioned above, it is quite obvious that the causes and the brands are not directly aligned with each other (or else, Mercedes-Benz would have been selling gaming laptops today!). However, by sharing characters and traits in a common story and by standing up for the same cause – there seems to be a win-win situation for both the brand being advertised and perspective on life it focuses on. Not only do we get a genuine story, but we also get an unprecedented access to what might be going on an individual’s or a community’s life at this point in time. The medium? Advertising.

With digital and social media marketing constantly changing the advertisement industry, the core essence somewhat remains the same. Admen all around the globe have been on a relentless pursuit to understand what makes the average customer tick, what are his basic emotions and how can they craft a story to make him connect to the brand. From the early days of advertisement to the modern-day social media audio visuals, the advertising industry of our country has sure come a long, glorious path – ensuring the delight of millions of viewers. As William Bernbach of DDB rightfully said, “Good advertising does not just circulate information. It penetrates the public mind with desires and belief”. That is exactly what ads in our country are all about – taking bits and pieces from our everyday stories and creating one story for the mass. A story about our desires, emotions and dreams of a wonderful tomorrow.

Written by Farhat Chowdhury

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