Special emotional effects

Watch these two new commercials from Volkswagen. One of them is a hip beetle cavorting through the undergrowth. The other is a young Darth Vader who scares no one. I see the hip beetle and smile. The other one makes me feel warm inside. The beetle has close to 70,000 views. Darth Vader has 635,000 views. No prizes for guessing who tugs at the heartstrings better. The first one is a million dollar special effects extravaganza. The other one costs a fraction and doesn’t use a single special effect or a camera trick. But it gets under the skin much better. Why?

Instead of providing you with the obvious answer, let me point you to 2 old commercials – in the insurance category – one is for Bajaj super agent and the other for Max New York Life. I am sure the special effects team toiled with the animation of the ‘Super Agent’ and did everything possible to make him a more human figure. But it falls as flat as seven-year-old beer. All the fizz is gone. Here’s another insurance ad – with all the product info piled in but executed much better. One more in the series – what this taps into is our experience of Indian social situations and the way people interact. The conversation is real, not contrived and unlike the bulging Super Agent, Sukhi and Dukhi come off as far more believable characters. We’ve seen a lot of pessimists in life.

So there’s really no point in blowing up a budget on special effects unless it has an emotional connect. It’s all very well to think of animation that will dazzle the viewer but no one’s looking to be dazzled. In today’s world, they get over it fast enough. When BMW commissioned the world’s top names to make a series of films that showed off the car, the directors built it on a story and not the features of the car. Its great to see how Guy Ritchie ends up treating his superstar ex-wife, Madonna