Cobra Deo ad: When men need women to give them a hand
Am I shocked? Yes. Am I impressed that this opens up a brand new avenue of sex education and sexual options for the masses and classes alike? Yes. That said, a little more subtlety and originality could have made the ad more impressive.
Does the term “hand job” leave you in the dark? Would you like to know how to give one? Have you ever wondered while giving a hand job if it’s having the desired effect? Fret not. The world of Indian commercials has come up with what seems to be a ready primer on giving your man a hand.
Look, nothing shocks me about the world of deodorant ads.
In fact, I’m one of those who likes the Axe Effect commercials. I feel they are actually cocking a snook at claims made by the advertising companies and product managers who suggest that just spraying on a fragrance will make a man irresistible to women. Do Axe and its ilk objectify women in their ads? I don’t think so. I think they objectify the men more, so it is effectively an equal opportunity situation. Most importantly, some of them are extremely well-made, like the Axe Effect Chocolate ad in which the guy who uses the Axe deo finally loses an arm.
Recently, Old Spice tried to do an Indian version of their phoren ad, with Milind Soman claiming he becomes irresistible when he uses Old Spice. It wasn’t as good as the original, but it was harmless and very vanilla. Also, an ageing Soman was a bit like Bill Clinton modelling for Durex.
Of course, not every deo company has a sense of humour, like Old Spice and Axe. These more serious-minded types make copycat versions of the Axe ads, but without any irony. So two very bad looking people dance very badly after spraying Engage deo, in an effort to convince us to buy the product. Or a woman sprays her underarm region and then all she can do is stroke her sparkling white armpit.
Usually, in men’s deodorant ads, the women are always incidental characters. Their actions are determined by the male characters. They are never the stars.
Till now that is.
Cobra Deo has recently started to advertise the fact that it’s now available in a bigger size, which is the point of the new ad presumably. This commercial combines the best of Sunny Leone’s Manforce condom commercial, Katrina Kaif’s Slice commercial (which taught us the wonder of oral sex) and the subtlety of the American Pie film series. Please join me as I give the creators of Cobra Deo a slow clap.
The ad cannot be more direct. In frame is a can of deodorant and a pair of well-manicured (woman’s) hands. In the background for some reason there are some chess pieces and cufflinks. Maybe because men should aspire to these – intellectual games and fashion? Another slow clap, please, for this detailing.
The 49-second ad sticks to this one frame, while the woman’s hands caress the can. First, with one hand and then, from top to bottom, with both. There’s a squiggly, ahem, vein on the label that becomes pronounced. One part of the can turns transparent so that you can see a buildup of something fizzy inside. The can grows bigger and bigger until finally, it just can’t handle all this stroking. The cap comes off and out comes a spray.
Cobra Deo’s brand ambassador is Emraan Hashmi, who has carefully cultivated a “woman’s man” image. In marketing speak, the target audience for this deo would be the average “SEC B” man, young and old alike. This is code for Hindi speaking, inclined to spend less upon fripperies like deo and most likely to have no understanding or concept of either foreplay or sex initiated by a woman. Keep that in mind and Cobra Deo’s ad becomes less ridiculous and more of a social service. This ad could introduce SEC B men to a brave new world and show women that she can take things into her own hands. If that isn’t serving the greater good, then what is?
But should it be on air on prime time? I can’t imagine sitting and watching this ad with my friends' kids and having to explain how a pair of hands managed to make a can enlarge and erupt by simply stroking it.
Also, I would have given Cobra a lot more credit for bravery and creativity, if I hadn’t found their inspiration, which is a banned Perrier water commercial from 1976. Cobra ad copied it, second to second. Not only is it tragic that we can't be original even when we're being sleazy (albeit in a mildly brave way), the effects in the 40-year old Perrier ad are way better than those in Cobra's.
Yet, the Cobra ad does have recall value. Perhaps this is because it's so unexpected, but you just can’t stop replaying it a few times at least.
Am I shocked? Yes. Am I impressed that this opens up a brand new avenue of sex education and sexual options for the masses and classes alike? Yes. That said, a little more subtlety and originality could have made the ad more impressive. Also, just a small suggestion, from me to Cobra. Keeping with the finesse of the communication in their ad, maybe it’s time to change their brand ambassador from Hashmi to Kamaal R Khan?
Aphrodisiac deodorants? A mango substituting for a dildo? Advertising agendas of ‘Buy Product, Get Orgasm Free’ or ‘Here are some boobs’ are getting a bit old
Milind Soman's run is a part of 'The Great India Run' to promote running as a sport in the country.