'Fundoo' ad words not without meaning

Sound mnemonics planted as memory hooks have been an age old practice in advertising. With more and more apparently meaningless words cropping up in ads these days, it begs the question --- 'Is the going getting better for gibberish in advertising? And if so, why?'

Why are words with no apparent meaning, like Hoodibaba, Uf Yumma, Wakaw and Epang Opang, being heard more and more in ads today? Ask the creative brains behind such ads, and they will tell you there is logical reasoning behind them. Such words are not incorporated as some off hand balderdash for the want of something innovative to put out, they are pains to point out.

The Hoodibaba bike = Bajaj Caliber

Hoodibaba made a huge impact for Bajaj Caliber. Wakaw is working well for Coca Cola's new product launch Vanilla Coke, as also for the mother brand. Uf Yumma! A term coined to envisage freshness in the all new Liril Orange ad. Obviously, such words are working for the brands they represent and therefore a more detailed examination of the phenomena is warranted.

The first thing that comes though is that it is kids and the youth, who are constantly on the lookout for fresh and new concepts, at whom such words are targeted. It is this TG that responds well to such advertising. Says Leo Burnett managing director Arvind Sharma, "New words that are coined for ads can be of value in talking to children and youth who're in constant search of novelty. From the past, the term Gold Spot - Goldspotting with the line 'Goldspotting- You'll like it', comes easily to mind."

Uf Yumma = Liril taazgi

In the refreshing new Liril Orange ad, the word 'Uf Yumma!' springs to mind because it is so catchy and in your face. What does it mean? The word is actually borrowed from the Persian and translates as 'Oh my God!'. Fans of Bollywood hunk Salman Khan might recall Jab Pyar Kisi Se Hota Hai, which was released in 1998. A song in the movie went something like this - "Ye aankhein, uf yumma! Ye surat, uf yumma!" Says Lowe executive creative director, R "Balki" Balakrishnan, "The key in using these words, which essentially work as synonymous with the brand, is closing in on a term that is relevant and matches the brand. Words cannot just be thrown in to make a mark. Also these words are coined with great strategic intention in terms of the term and its association with the brand. Another important factor to consider here is that India is more an audio than a visual country. Therefore audio hooks become crucial for effective advertising."

Wakaw = Vanilla Coke.. what else?

Now coming to the much hyped new Vanilla Coke ad with actor Vivek Oberoi. The first thing that comes to mind if one thinks about the ad is the really meaningless word 'Wakaw.' But the word has, without a doubt, made a phenomenal impact on people. So much so that it has now become a lingo among the younger lot for whom 'wakaw' is synonymous with hip n' happening. With multimedia activities planned around the launch of the new drink, this can be touted as one of the most successful recent brand launches. McCann Erickson national creative director Prasoon Joshi, the man behind the ad, says, "While this phenomenon cannot be called a trend, the right usage, delivers brilliant results in terms of brand recall as well as brand awareness. And if it marries the brand well, it becomes quite a rage."

But not everyone is convinced. Says EuroRSCG vice president (creative) Ashok Karnik, "Advertising is all about creating new ways of attracting attention. And the use of words with no real meaning is an attempt to do just that. Maybe it will lose its effect after some time." But how do clients usually react to this... are they open enough to take risks in today's world of cut throat competition? To this Karnik said, "Clients are under tremendous pressure from competition, so they don't mind taking risks. I don't know how these agencies convinced their clients. But I must say both clients and the agencies have become bolder."

O&M senior creative director Sagar Mahabaleshwakar says, "I am quite surprised how people can sell something meaningless to clients. The fact of the matter remains that sound plays a very important factor and the client looks at the whole script per say and not just one word."

Whassup! = Budweiser... A true success story

Apparently meaningless words are being used by advertisers and agencies to create a buzz for the campaign. "People are bombarded with messages everyday and therefore something like these one word expressions catch attention," explains Karnik. One international campaign that people caught on to was the award winning Budweiser ad campaign. 'Whassup!' was the catch word here and although not meaningless, it became a lingo among young and old alike. "The Budweiser ad campaign came from the 'life' of the consumers. That's how people talk everyday," said Karnik.

Creating a buzz for a campaign is crucial for its bottomline. With increasing number of people turning a blind eye to advertising messages, the need to see or hear something different and interesting is gaining more and more importance. This forms the fundamental premise of the such advertising.

So are we in for more of such wordplay? The industry consensus is clear - campaigns like these which bank heavily on one word will work once or twice but those who see a trend in it are barking up the wrong tree. Says Sharma, "When too many brands start using it, it becomes boring or even irritating. In my view both Hoodibaba and Wakaw have worked well for their respective brands. However if many more brands start using this approach because it is the new fad, effectiveness of this executional trick will decline rapidly."

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