Successful ad-making is a subtle art. One that requires the designer to have a consummate understanding of the nation’s heartbeat or atleast the target audience’s pulse. The O&Ms and the JWTs of the world strive to unravel the many secrets of this Pandora’s Box but what is the tool that allows them to do so? This is where semiotics comes in. Semiotics is the study of the signs, symbols & their significance in human life. To fully understand semiotics one has to understand the cultural nuances of their target audience. Valid arguments can be made that a plethora of cultural backdrops exist in our nation however one has to understand that these cultures are interwoven through a common link. It is this link that is the crucial key to the lock. This tiny thread that can unravel the Pandora’s Box & provide the seeker with an idea that can appeal to all.
The old Bajaj ad with its extraordinarily catchy tagline of “Humara Bajaj” & the oh-so-delicious ‘Jalebi!’ ad by Dhara cooking oil are delightful examples of semiotics executed to sheer perfection. Let’s take them one by one. The “Humara Bajaj” ad established Bajaj scooters as the stalwart of its time, with the ad not only showcasing the importance of the scooter in the life of the common man but also capturing the everyday routine of India & the special position the scooter held at that time as the family’s personal mode of transport. The ‘Jalebi!’ ad is all the more special because it invokes nostalgia in the adult viewers by painting the perfect picture of a child’s delight at the mention of his favourite sweetmeat – Jalebi! With the roles portrayed to perfection everyone in the target audience is able to relate to the ad which is exactly what was intended. That’s not to say however that semiotics was only applicable in the 80s & the 90s of the previous century. There are a number of examples that still depicts the application of semiotics & its all-capturing characteristic. The “mauka-mauka” ads that played upon the Indo-Pak cricketing rivalry appealed to every Indian regardless of whether they were a cricket fan or not & the latest “Aur dikhao” ad by Amazon.com also has a similar attribute as it wittily highlights the desire of most Indians to have more choices at their disposal even when a particular option has appealed to them.