India recently celebrated its 70th Independence Day. The flavour of freedom reverberated across every sphere, especially advertisements, on both visual and print media. If one looks back at ads over the years, the commercials created by Leo Burnett for McDonald’s India (West & South) have been particularly creative and brilliant.
What’s more, the ads have managed to reflect the spirit of India in subtle ways. Let’s take a trip back to the past, if only for nostalgia’s sake.
Some of you may remember the Arranged Marriage ad. What could be more Indian than an “arranged marriage”, where you barely meet, then get married, then get to know each other, then fall in love, finally. The McDonald’s ad shows a couple – who have obviously had an arranged marriage – sitting at a McDonald’s restaurant. The husband gets a soft serve ice-cream for them both but instead of chatting with her, is seen attending business phone calls.
Just as the wife begins to look bored, he offers her a spoon of his ice-cream! The ice between them, a result of their implied mutual unfamiliarity because of their arranged marriage, soon melts. The ad beautifully conveys how arranged marriages grow over time, and of course, how McDonald’s restaurants are a place where people feel at home and strike bonds.
Then, there was the ad about a little boy who borrows money from his Dad to treat his friend to a burger. Unlike the west, where kids get pocket money which they don’t return, this boy depicts the Iindian scenario as he promises to return the money ton his Dad. Asked how does he plan to do that, he replies, “thoda thoda kar ke” – the origin of EMIs, perhaps. The creative strikes a chord across Indian hearts, because the people of the country are all-too familiar with the concept of requesting a small loan so as to return it in time, too.
Then, India has the unique culture of even non-vegetarians going vegetarian on certain days of the week or month, due to religious reasons. Some keep a fast on Tuesdays, others on Thursdays, and yet others on Saturdays. So, does that mean they lack vegetarian food options? Not at all, when McDonald’s restaurants across India offer the widest range of delicious vegetarian meals to choose from. So much so, that meat-eaters may hardly miss not eating non-vegetarian on these days. The jingle of the ad went “Hum Hai Different, But Together”.
Finally, ad that reflected the quintessential Indian. He’s one who bargains till he gets out of breath, even if something comes with a fixed price tag. Otherwise, he thinks it’s a losing business proposition. Similarly, this ad shows a man inside a McDonald’s finding it hard to believe that a McDonald’s burger can come for as little as Rs 25! He hems and haws till he is convinced the great deal is for real. This ad, titled Pukka Indian, or the real Indian, was launched to promote the value meals from McDonald’s.