Moody Hues, featuring Surya Roshni and Crompton

Two Indian lighting brands have launched new campaigns with identical themes at the same time! They have been created by two different agencies, obviously.

Surya Roshni’s campaign, by Ogilvy, has the theme, ‘Sabko Mood Mein Le Aaye’.

It features Shankar Mahadevan who sings ‘Mood aisa badal gaya, mahaul ghar ka chamak gaya’ as his (fake, ad-only) wife changes the colors of the light and offers different kinds of moods to the family.

I read about this campaign’s launch on October 11th and saw the video.

I remember this otherwise functional piece of communication because it wasn’t completely lazy writing. There was some spunk in getting to showcase Shankar’s actual talent—the reason for choosing him for this ad—because he sings the same line differently for each mood (created by the lighting). It’s a small, but engaging (-enough) idea that infuses a bit more interest than a script without a Shankar (singer) and only the background voice sings different versions of the tune.

For some inexplicable reason (that only the brand and agency would be aware of), all those videos are now missing from Surya Roshni’s YouTube page!

Instead, Surya Roshni has freshly uploaded that video on October 25th!!

So, the media outlets that embedded those videos have a blank YouTube embed screen!

Crompton’s campaign, by BBDO, was launched on October 22nd, and has the theme, ‘Mood Jaisa, Lighting Vaisa’! No prizes for guessing the script – a couple feels that they are not in the mood to work, at home. A genie appears and changes the light colors as they adapt to different moods.

The genie is the deus ex machina of advertising – it’s usually a voice-over or a sutradhar, but in this case, given that the product range is called ‘Star Lord’, the agency decides to create a persona for the name, though I’m thankful the genie does not look like Star-Lord from The Guardians of the Galaxy.

BBDO’s script is identical to Ogilvy’s – the narrative device is the same:

  • a family/couple, in their own home
  • they seem disinterested and down initially (Ogilvy does not verbalize it, while BBDO gets the woman to specify it)
  • introduce lighting as a mood changer (Ogilvy has the wife introducing it, while BBDO has a genie performing that gimmick)
  • the narrative then showcases 3 kinds of lighting that can be selected (both ads showcase exactly 3 kinds of lighting, though Surya also adds that you can control the intensity of the lights)

Surya also goes the extra mile by showing a remote control device (though it looks gigantic and seems like overkill for just lights).

I’m reasonably sure both BBDO and Ogilvy probably arrived at their respective ideas independently. It’s not all that unique as an idea – when the client explains the brief that they have smart lights that can change color, the lowest hanging fruit is to tie it to the mood of the users.

But that both these competing brands (they also compete with Wipro, Philips, Havells, among others, of course) released their identical ads in the same period makes it all the more interesting.

What is even more intriguing is that Surya Roshni removed the ads they had uploaded (there were two – one for lighting, and another for mixers, both featuring Shankar Mahadevan) and decided to re-upload only one.

I wonder if that odd decision, that too for a brand new campaign barely two weeks old, was influenced by the fact that Crompton too used the exact narrative to talk about very similar product benefits. And why re-upload just one video, particularly the one that directly relates to a similar campaign from a rival (they may upload the mixer ad too eventually – I don’t know).

You may argue – what else can a brand choose to communicate when the product’s functionality is identical? Sure, the product is similar, but the framing and story need not be. That’s where advertising and creativity come into play. That both agencies chose ‘mood’ (and change it through the use of the lights) as the theme is perhaps sheer coincidence (just bad timing for both the brands), but given that it is the most linear line towards a communication idea should have been a red flag.

And there are tons of framing devices that can be explored. For example, I remember a 2019 ad film for Wipro LED bulbs, by the agency Experience Commerce, that uses the same basic theme – changing the intensity of light (but through smart LED bulbs that can be fit in conventional bulb holders too and operated through a mobile app). There is a play around mood in that ad too, but it is encapsulated in a warm (pun unintended) human-interest story inspired by the 1981 Hindi film Ek Duuje Ke Liye (which was a remake of the 1978 Telugu film by the same director, K.Balachander – Maro Charitra).

Kamal Hassan and Rati Agnihotri communicate by switching on and off the lights in their rooms (since they live in neighboring houses).

Wipro’s ad goes a couple of steps ahead – one, it places the communication as one that’s not happening between a young couple, but a much older pair who are now single after having completed a cycle of life with their erstwhile partners. And it is the older woman’s (played by the always charming Neena Gupta) son and daughter-in-law who are open-minded enough to encourage the little charade.

The script too extends the Hindi film’s basic idea – instead of simply switching the light on or off (which Neena Gupta does, initially), the ad shows the older man controlling the intensity of the LED bulb through the mobile app (with clear Wipro branding). This is a good example of clever and creative framing for what is the same product (there are operational differences between the products, I do understand that) feature, and hence unlikely to be that easily emulated by another brand.

Here is that ad!

As the legendary adman Bill Bernbach said, “Creativity is the last unfair advantage we’re legally allowed to take over our competitors”.



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