28 Years Apart: The Story Behind the Iconic Cadbury Cricket Ad - Then v/s Now

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Samosa Talks: Cadbury Cricket Ad 2021

From directing the campaign on Zoom to rapid COVID-19 tests now to natural takes of Shimona dancing back then - the story behind both the ads is equally tantalizing and Team Ogilvy both shares with us.

Indian ads from the 90s are not only a testimony to the foot-tapping jingles and heartwarming stories but also to ads with high stackability - ones that have been etched in our memories as consumers and as members of the A&M industry. The Cadbury cricket ad - one where Shimona Rashi danced her way into our hearts - is one such gem.

Cut to 2021, the iconic campaign is recreated with a twist and has tugged at the nation’s heartstrings with undeniable nostalgia.

Piyush Pandey, Chairman, Global Creative and Executive Chairman, Ogilvy, Kainaz Karmakar CCO, Ogilvy India, Harshad Rajadhyaksha CCO, Ogilvy India, and Sukesh Nayak CCO, Ogilvy India take us behind the scenes - giving a view of what went behind imagining and reimagining the campaign, 28 years apart.

How it all began...

At a time when the society was rife with taboos and modernization capped with economic liberalization had just begun, there was a refreshing emotion associated with the 90s Cadbury Ad. Taking us behind the manifestation of the film, Pandey shared how adults back then considered chocolates to be only meant for kids. “What we were trying to do is get adults back into eating chocolates.”

“We wanted to establish that there is a child in each one of us. That was our strategy for the ad”, he says.

Pandey highlights why they chose a girl to dance with glee as it was not the norm back then. “We wanted to surprise people and depict the freedom of expression without overtly trying to make a social statement. But we believed that it was a fresh thing to do”, he adds.

Furthermore, showcasing ‘Real people’ was also a prominent element in the ad. Pandey explains, “When we selected Shimona Rashi, it was her first ad but we wanted fresh faces and someone who could just express that feeling of joy without being conscious. That’s how the casting was done.”

For the making of the ad, the Ogilvy team had also specified to not have any choreographers. Thus, everything was planned to be as real as possible.

Pandey expresses, “The 90s’ ad was so much from the heart that many people would like to write a book about it. My book is in my heart.”

The 2021 edition...

Speaking about the behind-the-scenes’ anecdotes, Karmakar shares the names of the Ogilvy youth – Swadhita and Samyu from the creative team who first came up with the ‘crazy' idea of a fresh take for the classic ad film and bounced it off to Tanuja Bhat, ECD, Ogilvy India. "Once Tanuja saw the idea, she responded to both the girls with ‘Stay crazy’."

After the idea was escalated to Sukesh, Kainaz, and Harshad, the senior team connected with Piyush and Anil Viswanathan, Senior Director, Mondelez International. Both loved the idea. Similarly, as the matter reached the Director, the team received a nod.

“Everybody was reacting straight from the gut. There was no overthinking or over-analysis involved. There was no PowerPoint involved. It was meant to happen and went at the speed at which I told you”, concedes Karmakar.

The ad while mostly received positive reviews came with its own set of challenges, especially the pressure attached to any piece of content that is a remake. Post the release, many critiques also chimed in with their take on the ad.

Pandey quips, “Everyone knows that we make the ad for the people of India and not the critiques.”

Nayak adds how it was important to have the original creatives and the ‘go-ahead’ from Piyush. “Once he gave a nod, the agenda was to have fun while reimagining the original idea with the process. There were healthy debates and banters but we were not over-analyzing things.”

While there must have been a pressure of recreating a classic, the Ogilvy team agreed that they were aware that the team was up for rebuilding an iconic ad. Rajadhyaksha pointed that to remake the old classic, the team was in touch with the original makers backed by Piyush and the Director, Shashanka Chaturvedi. “The participation of the original creators of the 90s ad helped us to reduce the anxiety of living up to the original.”

Further, #GoodLuckGirls' cast has been a topic of discussion on social media. Right from featuring a Punjabi boy to a dark-skinned player. Was it a conscious decision? Nayak puts forth that both the final actors chosen for the campaign were quite spontaneous in the test. “We roped in many people for the film and the only filter was to look for people who could enact the role. The final actors who were chosen were the most spontaneous and perfect for the part.”

Karmakar pointed another insight for the casting and the fact that how the team wanted the guy to be different than Shimona and do his own madness.

Taking us behind the shoot, she shares after watching the test, Piyush suggested that don’t make the guy rehearse too much so that he doesn’t lose the spontaneity. “That’s the brief we stuck to. We took a chance and I believe it worked”, she exclaims.

Vividly describing the on-ground shoot, Nayak also shares that within the first two takes there was a silent ‘Yay’ when the people knew that the boy had got it. With the COVID-19 norms in place, the team exercised all the possible precautions for the shoot.

“We didn’t have a reference point at that time and were free to do whatever we could. The pressure on these guys was more,” Pandey said, sharing how proud he was of the team.

The Target Audience...

Since the team didn’t have any brief, the idea was to not reach out to a particular audience but possibly garner mass reach in India. Karmakar explains, “There was no brief from the client to reach out to the particular audience. It felt right so it has been done. For those who have nostalgia, it is smashing. But even if you watch the new one, it’s quite a watchable piece of content.”

The team also highlights how the ad was being lauded by people with and without context from all levels- from school kids to senior citizens.

Pandey adds, “When these 16-17-year-old kids loved this ad, for the first time they saw their mothers also loving it because of nostalgia. Then they started wondering how come both of us are enjoying the same thing.”

Also read: Samosa Talks: How Branded Content on Instagram moves business outcomes

A Surreal Experience...

Highlighting some of the fun memories, Pandey compares that back in the 90s, the team did not face an unprecedented pandemic. “I remember, back in the day, we got the shots for the ad very early in the morning. Once we got the take, we were much more relaxed and knew that we now have to get the remaining of the stuff.”

The other panel members express how they have grown up with the ad. Apart from the value in the overall film-making of the ad, Rajadhyaksha points towards the impact of the iconic song composed by Louie Banks, sung by Shankar Mahadevan from childhood to now. He recalls the surreal experience while shooting the 2021 ad and the surge of emotions when Mahadevan’s voice soared in the stadium during the shot.

Nayak reminisces how the recent ad turned out good despite the Mumbai rains during the time of the shoot. Karmakar shares that the night before the shoot she met with an elbow injury and had to supervise the ad film through a ZOOM call, the next day.

1993-2021: The Social Media Canvas

With social media becoming mainstream over the years, the canvas has become manifold, shares the team. Rajadhyaksha explains that the work that you do will be amplified and showcased across various screens with social media. “The canvas is manifold so you better go out and make the best of your work”, he says.

Pandey adds, “We make our creative work not based on the platform but based on people. That it should evoke emotions from the audience across platforms.” In terms of media opportunities, more the merrier, he concurs.

As the latest ad appears to be more inclusive in line with the changing times, we ask the team about the idea behind showcasing them and how they intend to take inclusivity to the next level. To this, Pandey quips, “We have not underlined the inclusivity. It is inherent in the idea.”

“I am not a big believer of when purpose needs to be stated. It should be felt by people”, he shares

With the industry abuzz with conversations around an ensuing ‘remake’ trend in the ad world, Nayak says that to remake any classic ads/campaigns, you better have something interesting to say and relevant to recent times. “It should add something to the brand.”

Team Ogilvy shared their thoughts at Samosa Talks Live. You can watch the entire session here:

The article by Saloni Surti & Aishwarrya Chakraverty

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