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By Ramnik Chhabra 10-Dec-2009 | 12:54

There are different tricks advertisers do to make their ads more appealing and cut through the clutter. One of them is the choice of the protagonist in the advertising.

First; there’s the chubby baby. Goo Goo Gaa Gaa and some chubby skin show brings out the maternal instincts of every woman viewer from 16 to 60. Even men can’t help their ‘Cho Chweet’ instincts when encountered with that characteristic gurgle. I still remember a famous ad of the 90s (infact Mid-Day rated it the best ad of the 90s) recruiting models for Johnson & Johnson. It simply said “Nude Models Wanted”! Or the client in the mid-90s telling me to show more skin (of the baby kind) for a consumer durable ad!

Then; there’s the cute (or precocious; take your pick) kid. The kid who wins your heart with his childlike innocence(latest Airtel ads) or ‘one-up on adults’ attitude( a Rin detergent ad of a kid with the Big B actually made the child a star – in a parallel lead to AB in the film Bhoothnath!).

Then ofcourse; there’s the celebrity. Sign one on and nothing else matters. From AB to SRK to MSD to all the gorgeous Lux women– celebrities cut-through.

Most recently though; there’s a new kind of clutter breaker taking over the Indian advertising firmament. A protagonist who does not need to be paid a bomb, who can always be counted upon to deliver a stellar performance, whose innate values can be linked seamlessly to the brands proposition. And who manages to strike a chord with a variety of audiences- without mouthing a word of dialogue (no language dub hassles with this one!).

The latest successful advertising protagonist is not human.

It’s the Vodafone Dog, the Cadbury’s Gorilla, the IDBI Elephant, the CEAT Rhino (sadly discontinued) and ofcourse the Merrill Lynch Bull.

In todays advertising age animals have found their place not just as chaaps(Bandar Chhaap Dant Manjan, Tiger Chhaap biscuit etc) ; but as brand ambassadors.

If movies can make money out of animals (Jungle Book, Shrek, Sharks Tale, Ice Age, Bugs Life, Eight Below, Free Willy, Babe etc etc); why not brands?

In recent times brand benefits and advertising cut-through seem to be delivered more effectively through other species that inhabit our planet. Arguably; with good reason.

The innate qualities of the animal get automatically superimposed onto the brand (without having to establish them using precious airtime). And human emotions communicated through non-humans somehow seem to resonate more with humans.What`s more you don`t need to pay the performers much. Just a super in minimum font stating that you didn`t harm them during the shoot and a few thousands of rupees!

So let`s celebrate the coming of age of the animal kingdom in advertising. If you think advertising is running out of animals to use as protagonists; don’t . The 2005 Millennium Ecosystem Assessment notes approximately 2 million species formally described!

As for their ability to deliver emotions effectively; see any Disney Cartoon. Snakes can be cute , fishes can be smart and donkeys can have attitude!