Ad Nut
Aug 13, 2020

Amazon deploys the power of song to win over small businesses in India

Shop owners sing the praises of Amazon's platform in a hard-to-resist campaign by Ogilvy.

A hard part of Ad Nut's job is separating the quality of the advertising in question from any personal feelings about the product being advertised, or from concerns about the power the client company wields in the world. The cognitive dissonance can be hard to take.

A new campaign for Amazon in India, by Ogilvy, is not just a case in point, but one of the most extreme examples of this syndrome that Ad Nut can remember.

These are excellent ads, perhaps even great ones. A clear and somewhat complex message is delivered comprehensibly and with irresistable charm. Moreover, the work hits exactly the right tone: An elaborate, slick, all-out-Bollywood-style production would be a terrible fit for a behemoth client that's trying to appeal to small, family-owned businesses, but this folksy, casual treatment is just right. The smile logo is working. The wacky sidekick is silly fun.

Ad Nut's only complaint about the work—and it's a big one—is that none of the shop owners are women. That's a ridiculous omission, and would be so easy to avoid since the work already requires filming multiple variants. Ad Nut hopes that Ad Nut is just missing some other versions. If so, apologies. If not, Ad Nut hopes Amazon and Ogilvy can remedy this issue in the future.        

Now, looking beyond the work itself, we have to acknowledge that Amazon, as a powerhouse with near-limitless resources and vast economies of scale, is a threat to the very survival of the same small businesses it is trying to woo here. That's why, during founder and CEO Jeff Bezos' visit to India earlier this year—in which he announced an additional US$1 billion investment in the market (bringing the company's total investment to date to $6.5 billion) including plans to support thousands of local kirana stores and create a million jobs by 2025—he was greeted with protests, ministerial snubbing and an antitrust investigation.

In addition, it can't escape notice that Bezos is also well on his way to being the world's first trillionaire but appears not to care one iota about using that incredible wealth to solve any of the many problems he could easily help address. And in fact, the man actively works to prevent his underpaid and famously overstressed warehouse workers from unionising to demand they be treated as humans rather than as the robots he would so clearly like to replace them with.

Those latter two points are kind of beside the point here (sorry, Ad Nut tends to get carried away). In any case, the destruction of small, family-owned companies that simply can't compete with Amazon is more than enough to make it hard to feel good about these jaunty little musical numbers. 

Yup, cognitive dissonance. But don't worry, Ad Nut is devoted to this work, and in any case gets paid quite well (albeit only in nuts) for bravely facing the challenge. 


Client: Amazon Sellers India
Agency: Ogilvy South
Chief creative officers Ogilvy India: Harshad Rajadhyaksha, Kainaz Karmarkar, Sukesh Nayak
Chief creative officers, Ogilvy South: Mahesh Gharat, Kiran Anthony
Group creative director, Ogilvy South: Mukesh Kumar
Creative team: Harshad Salian, Gururaj Biradar, Prem Thyagarajan
President, Ogilvy South: N. Ramamoorthi
Vice president, Ogilvy South: Kamala Gowri V
Account management: Nikhil Nair
Head of planning Ogilvy South: Anirban Roy
Planning: Barsha Chakraborty
Production house: Lucifer Circus
Director: Sharat Kataria

Ad Nut is a surprisingly literate woodland creature that for unknown reasons has an unhealthy obsession with advertising. Ad Nut gathers ads from all over Asia and the world for your viewing pleasure, because Ad Nut loves you. You can also check out Ad Nut's Advertising Hall of Fame, or read about Ad Nut's strange obsession with 'murderous beasts'.


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