Why Commercials Still Hold Value in the Age of Social Media

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Why Commercials Still Hold Value in the Age of Social Media

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Commercials have been a part of the fabric of mainstream media and content dissemination since time immemorial. From print media like newspapers and magazines to audio spaces like the radio and of course, the juggernaut audio-visual medium that is the television.

In fact, ads have been a part of the country’s entertainment industry ever since the television and radio became household devices across India. In this time, ads and admakers have come and gone and filled in those gaps between programming with content that is part sales pitch, part entertainment.

Revisiting India’s Iconic Ads

India has a rich tapestry of the most excellent commercials that dates back decades and yet, these ads have resulted in a massive brand recall that exists to this day.

Think back to the classic “jalebi!” kid from the Dhara Oil commercial

Or the equally legendary “Hamara Bajaj”

There were also the hilarious Fevicol series of ads that blew up in the 90s and early 2000s

And epic Pepsi ads for the 1999 ICC Cricket World Cup where celebrity endorsement was at an all-time high

Remember all the Nirma, Viccco Turmeric, Titan, Raymond and Thums Up commercials that instantly connected with you as a viewer? Or the heart-tugging campaigns by Cadbury’s Dairy Milk and Kissan? One quick search on YouTube gives you hundreds of nostalgic moments from the 80s and 90s.

Why These Commercials Were So Effective

Ads in India have done it all – tickle the funny bone, tap into your emotions, teach valuable social lessons, introduce new dance moves, create memorable soundtracks, and draw in some serious star power.

The reason that these classic ads from the yesteryears are so memorable is because they found the right formula. And each recipe for success was markedly different.

  1. Fevicol, Nerolac and the like aren’t the most frequently-consumed products, but with super-catchy jingles or through hilarious tropes brands such as this have ensured that you don’t forget who they are and what they are selling.
  2. Glamour, too, has been a big draw, with beautiful, charming and talented actors lending their names to products such as Lux, Pantene, Coca Cola, Asian Paints and L’Oreal among others.
  3. The Hamara Bajaj campaigns were all about nationalism and patriotic pride, and some ads used a combination of these formulae making creations that were both emotional and cute, or funny yet patriotic.

The idea has been to find a way to present the message where it isn’t jarring, or sometimes even so jarring yet repetitive and catchy that you can’t get it off your mind (we’re looking at you, Vicco Turmeric).

There’s no one-size-fits-all way to make a great ad, and all of these efforts have worked because they had the right combination of clever ideas, flawless execution, and that X-factor that made them connect with their audience big time.

Changing Times in the World of Commercials

That era of unforgettable ads that the whole family consumed together seems to be passing us by. That’s because, in today’s day an age, the very way in which we consume content is changing. Out goes the TV and the radio, and in comes the smartphone. Gone are the traditional channels and instead the likes of Netflix and Google Play Music rule the roost.

Streaming is the new way forward, and audio-visual ads seem to have begun losing their impact. After all, a lot of these streaming services run on a subscription-based model rather than one that is supported by ads. It is crazy to even think that such an eventuality is even a consideration these days because as we touched upon earlier, the impact of commercials has been massive both here in India and across the world. However, it isn’t all doom and gloom for brand managers who still see value in these commercials.

The size of the screen may have changed, but many services still use ads. In fact, the ambit has only grown wider, with social media giants such as YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and the like all opening up their digital pathways to ad partners.

Adapting to Digital Ad Platforms

This new age of ads on fresh platforms requires a fresh approach. You typically can’t have long, indulgent, commercials with a slow build-up in these times of rapid consumption and dwindling attention spans.

Furthermore, each medium has its own set of rules, ignorance of which will lead to ads that aren’t well received and flatter to deceive on the big social media stage. However, there are some advantages to this new platform, too. The fact that you get detailed, empirical data about your ad, its viewership figures, demographics and more allows you to really understand your target market and build content that is tailor-made to grab their eyeballs.

All you need is a competent commercials production company that knows how to help you harness these tools and use it to maximum advantage.

Here’s a look at some successful campaigns by Toolbox Studio where we used various emotional triggers to create on-screen magic and left a lasting impression on the audiences:



P.N. Gadgil

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