The 10 best Indian ads of 2022

Year 2 of making this list! Here’s the list from 2021, for context.

Let me reiterate: this list is not based on ad effectiveness. Effectiveness metrics, in whatever way it is measured, would be available only with the people who made the ad (brand and agency). As an outsider, I can only look at how engaging the ads are and how well they adhered to what they are trying to sell to us.

What is the universe of ads that this list is based on? A total of 927 Indian ads consciously seen/watched (as against stumbling upon them as an ad while watching something else), including video ads, print ads, and digital-only ads either in video format, image format, or social media posts (including global ads, the number goes up to 2,531).

1. Spotify India (Agency: Leo Burnett)

My LinkedIn post on this campaign.

Spotify had already hit gold in August 2021 with their multi-lingual ad series where a character reacts to the song in an unusual circumstance. But along with their agency Leo Burnett, the streaming platform went one step ahead in March 2022 with an even more enjoyable creative device – matching a life situation with a song only the protagonist is hearing. To make it really work, the agency gets the lip-sync of the other characters to match the lyrics of the song being played and the gag works wonders, particularly when seen across multiple language songs.

The only issue with this narrative is that this is not unique to Spotify as a streaming platform. However, given Spotify’s consistently high media spend against the other streaming platforms in India (JioSaavn, Gaana, Airtel Wynk) that are hardly present in terms of advertising, I assume most people remember the brand too, beyond the hilariously enjoyable creative gag.

My longer post on the context of the lack of brand differentiation in this campaign, tracing the history of advertising streaming platforms in India.

2. Jaquar bath + light (Agency: Enormous)

My blog post on this campaign.

Despite launching the lighting division in 2016, Jaquar had struggled to advertise it as a separate division over the years. But in 2022, along with the agency Enormous, they finally embraced the basic fact that the bathroom fittings division of the company is THE brand’s main identity in the minds of people.

When that is taken for fact, that presents a fantastic opportunity for Jaquar to use the phenomenal brand recognition in the bathroom fittings category to power the lighting category!

The resulting campaign, during the 2022 IPL, was a total knockout!

3. Sabhyata – ‘Redefining Celebration’ (Agency: ‘P se Picture’)

I had not heard about this clothing brand (the range reminded me of Fabindia) before this ad, and it gave me an opportunity to see their previous ads (by the same agency, ‘P se Picture’) that are quite similar in terms of intent and narrative treatment.

The 2022 Diwali ad hardly sells the brand in specific, though that seems to be the overall signature in all their ads – story-first, with the brand being incidental.

The story they choose for the ad is the kind that I recall seeing in the 80s/90s Doordarshan shows like Katha Saagar or Darpan – totally engaging and makes you wonder how it is going to end.

But it also evoked many questions, specifically about the intent of one of the protagonists (Sheeba Chaddha). So I also wrote a prequel to the ad, perhaps the first-ever prequel to any Indian ad where I traced the reasons for what we finally see in the ad đŸ™‚

4. Ather – Our batteries are cool. This video is even cooler (Produced in-house)

My blog post on this campaign.

2022 has been a terrible year as far as news around electric scooters are concerned. We heard so many instances of electric scooters going up in flames, that the Government had to set up formal committees to reign in the scene around spontaneously combusting electric scooter batteries.

Only one electric scooter brand spoke about this issue in its marketing even as every other scooter brand simply wished that this problem would go away quietly. That brand was Ather.

Ather’s ad used the time-tested narrative using the product-torture route, but did it with so much style and chutzpah!

5. Dhara – Khaane Pe Kehna (Agency: DDB Mudra)

My LinkedIn posts on this campaign: Ad 1 | Ad 2

The ‘dinner conversation’ space is wide open for brands in India and it’s a surprise no brand has used it so far. It’s primed for a range of brands starting with plywood brands (that can stake a claim via the dining table), to basmati rice brands (given that rice is India’s staple food and lends itself to dining-table led eating unlike the Western foods that can be consumed while sitting in front of the TV), to cooking masala and oil brands.

Dhara is the first one to use the space. But even as the first ad in the series goes directly for the ‘conversations over dinner/dining table’ narrative, the second one looks beyond that set-up and aims for any discussion over food. Both work well because they focus on the human aspect of the conversation without pushing the oil brand in our faces. The second one gets the brand connect even better than the first.

I really look forward to what more the brand does with this platform.

6. Kisna – Teri Roshni Hun Main (Agency: Contract Advertising)

My LinkedIn post on the campaign.

Having seen a lot of jewellery advertising, I thought I had seen it all. But Kisna’s ad broke that reverie with a narrative device that doesn’t make sense or stands out immediately, but does so really well when the ad ends!

The writing is a lot deeper and meaningful than what you may get on the first viewing (see my LinkedIn post for more on this).

7. New Dixcy Scott – Body Language Translator (Agency: TBWA\India)

My detailed blog post on the campaign.

Like the Kisna ad above, if you thought you have seen everything that underwear makers have tried yet, Dixcy Scott’s new campaign upends that thought with a fresh idea that makes perfect contextual sense and yet makes for a hilarious watch!

The creative device of a ‘body language translator’ is very clever!

8. Hyatt – Perfectly Yours (Agency: Animal Advertising)

My LinkedIn post on the campaign.

An almost-hypnotic ad that pitches Hyatt hotel’s weddings-related offering. The idea of ‘we put ourselves in your shoes’ gets a fantastic articulation with the hotel staff performing assorted wedding preparation tasks by putting themselves in the acts.

The attention to detail is what makes the ad so highly watchable, including the way every shot is perfectly centered, which makes it so alluring.

9. Vicco Vajradanti – ‘Mazedaar Nahi Asardaar’ (Agency: The Womb)

My LinkedIn post on the campaign.

When every other toothpaste brand zigs, Vicco, the OG of Ayurvedic toothpastes in India, zags! When other pastes are highlighting how much fun their products are (first thing in the morning) Vicco drops a truth bomb – you are not using toothpaste for ‘fun’, you are supposed to use it to protect you from gum-related problems. Whether Vicco’s ayurvedic ingredients really protect our gums or not is a different topic meant only for ASCI to ascertain and decide, as a product pitch, it stands out instantly!

Even Vicco has flavor variants like Saunf and Dalchini, but hasn’t moved completely into the taste-zone the way Dabur has by adding a Gel version even for the Dabur Red flagship product.

10. Cadbury 5 Star | Valentine’s Day Alibi – ‘My Cousin’s Wedding’ (Agency: Ogilvy India)

My LinkedIn post on the campaign.

Of the few campaigns by 5-Star in 2022, including the one around ‘5 stars’ we see in product reviews on e-commerce websites, and the one around third umpires, the one that I liked the most in terms of brand personality was the one the brand did for Valentine’s Day 2022.

That someone at Ogilvy not only thought of adding ‘My Cousin’s Wedding’ as an excuse for the desolately single, but also named an island off the coast of Karnataka as ‘My Cousin’s Wedding’ and also created an ’embassy’ in Mumbai for the singles to walk in to get a ‘visa’ is quite a stretch of imagination đŸ™‚

This is taking the corny idea really seriously to ridiculous heights and that commitment to the idea is what makes it so interesting.