dhak dhak – please make it stop!

Unless you’ve had your set tuned permanently to AasthaTV, there is no way you could have missed the virtual roadblock of the Indian airwaves inflicted upon us by DraftFCB and client Hero Honda, who decided to spend a lot of money this weekend on their 25th anniversary broadcasting an atrocity in the guise of an ad/music video/mile sur mera tumhara-update called ‘Dhak Dhak Go‘.

Err...not this one, unfortunately

Err...not this one, unfortunately

Good intentions aside, this ultimately boring bit of communication suffers on every count and deserves to quickly become a notorious footnote in history.

We are hosting a petition online to ask Hero Honda to spare us many more three-minute (yes – the ad is THAT long) pods of pain and to take the commercial off the air. Please sign here if you support us, and/or read on if you need convincing…

First, the idea – ‘Celebrate Young India’ – is THE cliche of the industry which has been trotted out ad nauseum by auto makers, biscuit makers, light switch makers and any other advertiser without a clue and with the supposition that some celebs, fast paced editing and a poor special effects show is all our spending masses need to lift their spirits and liberate their wallets. Indeed, Hero’s own ‘Desh Ki Dhadkan campaign, which preceded this one, is a similarly poor (and thankfully shorter) effort in the same category. Did anyone at Hero track the results of that commercial? I’d love to know the results.

Shame on director Ravi Udyawar – who has in the past given us so many wonderful and ironic gems at Channel V and MTV, for Dhak Dhak No! sets a precedent in the annals of lazy production. The shot list reads like an index of crap-stock-we’ve-all-seen-before and hints at total creative bankruptcy:

Hrithik, the headline biker being pursued by black clad faceless dudes on some characterless foreign highway underpass; Hrithik, the superdancer showing up some Shiamak cronies in unecessarily tight silver spandex pants (did I mention the cronies are all men); counterpoint with Priyanka Chopra and her les gals doing a similar R and B two step, followed by a ride on some feminine scooties; then, lo and behold, there’s

wake me up before you dhak dhak go

wake me up before you dhak dhak go

the gaggle of B-price-list cricketers doing their clumsy best to look like tough guys; the awe inspiring shot of a cricket ball being bowled and bursting into a ball of flame; said ball being whacked into orbit by Sehwag (how did Pathan agree to this shot?); then, in a crazy, almost-never-before-seen sequence, the oddly assembled cricket quintet are joined by Rajyavardhan Rathore, who after hitting the bullseye on a 60 ft target, rides into a scene of rural celebration. Need I mention that the commercial ends with a cheap vfx shot of Hritik zig zagging flames out of the rear of his two stroke wonder, spelling out the brand promise?

(Calling SonyEricsson, you can erase the memory of that confusing Krazzy4 plagiarism business by suing Hero for their reuse of the Hrithik thump gesture – which hopefully you did trademark… you did, right??)

The jingle sucks – probably as much as “Mindandbawdyhartandsohole” – the infuriating Visa number which also had Shankar Mahadevan belting out the familiar ‘young india’ theme in his often maudlin, almost apologetic strain. (This ad comes packaged with a similarly awkward ‘step’ that, one presumes is to be executed while riding past another hero honda owner, road safety be damned!) I couldn’t understand then how Visa kept their ad on air despite the fact that we had embarrassingly exited the World Cup – but you have a chance to change the tide of history and stop this embarrassment.

Here’s what Anil Dua, Sr. Vice President (Marketing & Sales), Hero Honda Motors, has to say:

“In our 25th year, we feel very young and energetic, and hence the idea was to do something different, and not follow the stereotype. We wanted to celebrate the young and emerging India – an India which is confident of taking on the world.

The catchy music track has been composed for a pan-India feel reflecting the brand’s reach. Composed by Ranjit Barrot and complemented by the voices of Shankar Mahadevan, Sukhwinder Singh and Shreya Ghoshal, it’s a perfect blend of sufi and rock, the flavour of music that the youth are with today.”

I would offer that the only original thing about the ad is the fact that all the riders keep their helmets on while in motion (though this might have been a new ASCI guideline).

And, I would have taken the high road and simply switched channels to save myself the grief, but this monstrosity is on every channel! Leave alone that I had to put up with it in mood-corrupting ad breaks during my HBO movie, my poor, impressionable son had to endure three Dhak Dhak interruptions in the course of one short and precious episode of Chuddi Buddy! A civilization can truly be said to be in decline when motorcycle stunts are being advertised on the local Cartoon Network.

I implore you to join me in this grail quest to force Hero Honda into doing something truly original by wheeling this ad off the air – I can assure you, they will get a lot more mileage out of that move. We’re even offering a catch of user generated ideas as replacements.




    hahahhaha – good stuff!!

    I think your blog is a good idea.
    Good way to ride on issues like this to get page views!!

    Good stuff.

    Maybe you should video tape your articulation of this petition and upload on youtube – will have wayyy more impact!!
    You can then embed that link on your blog.

    What say?

  2. whattothink

    Thanks for your encouragement and ever helpful suggestion

    I have donned my Captain America suit and will be making and posting a dramatic vlog (How’s that for being down with the lingo?) soon.

    Till then, please sign the petition – the ad just went to 60s and 30s – which might mean (god forbid) a higher frequency

  3. Pingback: Dhak dhak, go: OK, I will | Bhatnaturally

  4. whattothink

    Great news from the frontier!
    We are about to cross the 10 signatory mark on our petition and look set to make it into the high teens, eventually.

    I think this calls for the production of a music video shot on a never-before-seen scale!

  5. prabspeak

    i was just counting all the money that was being criminally wasted ! so many constructive things could have been done with that money while simultaneously promoting the product / brand .

  6. whattothink

    A comment I received from bike owner (to put it lightly) Sid Lal:

    just saw the HH ad! as a competitor (sort of) – i’m quite pleased..
    here’s our ad campaign (as a contrast)

    Your campaign is a very fine effort, Sid. It’s clear that you treat your brand with a great regard that is made a lot easier by having products you are passionate about. And I’m not making a backhanded compliment either, because I know it does take a lot of restraint to run a brand like Royal Enfield the way you guys have – keeping it niche, focused and true to its emotional promise.

    One niggling question, though.

    I know that, in a hypothetical brand gender test, RE would certainly come up male – dialing up traditional images of machismo, ruggedness and the need for a certain emotional detachment. This is glibly captured in the metaphor of the directional arrow above your ‘trip’ invitation, which is a double entendre for the male gender symbol.

    But how do you reconcile this with the images and legends of the various modern, liberated, biking (as opposed to biker passenger babe) women featured in your ads? I’m not suggesting that you’re suggesting your women are somehow men, nor am I comfortable with the suggestion that you go with something pc and in-between (see “other gender-related symbols” here ). To the contrary, your portrayal of women is completely against the biker bimbo norm used widely in the category and that is to be applauded. I’m just a little perturbed at the incongruence of the imagery.

    Of course, given the fact that the largest bike I’ve ever ridden was my friends Trek (he is 6’6″ and puts his seat up real high), I’m probably not in a position to hold forth on biker sexual politics.

  7. Yogesh

    Mr. Dua your jingle is no where in line with the taste of today’s youth…… your 3 min ad is nothing but a “suicide tonic” …………
    pls pls pls plsssssssss think something out of the box man!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  8. Kamal Nath

    On the contrary, I think the ad is quire daring and innovative, and first of its kind in the Indian ad space. Tell me how many brands today can think of making a 3-minute ad and have viewers watch it over and over again.

  9. whattothink

    In the beginning, there was Krishi Darshan. And it was the only thing on TV. And the entire nation watched it. Over and over again.

    Then came the remote control – and it gave people the power to switch channels. And they did. Over and over again. But the Hero Honda ad was on every channel!

    Mr Nath, even if you are not our erstwhile commerce minister, you don’t have to be an economist to figure out that this ad is not, as you say daring and innovative, and is instead a colossal waste of shareholder wealth.

    We have already established that the concept is stale (and certainly not the first of its kind) – and staleness leads to boredom, which leads to a lack of attention, which gets in the way of image formation and message retention, which really is the reason people produce ads (apart from pleasing the chairman’s wife, that is).

    Now, if your rebuttal is based on the fact that Hero were daring in producing a THREE minute ad, for which they spent multiple crores to run on every channel, you are again sorely wrong.

    The sheer length of this abomination only serves to irritate the viewer further, by permitting the display of even more cliches.

    There are several, magnificent examples of long (and short) format advertising. The golden standard is the Apple 1984 ad , which ran only once (in 1984) but which remains in public memory and gave the company a blueprint for its marketing and product strategy (think different).

    My biggest issue with this ad is that it is entirely regressive – and in a year where our country has made its biggest ever impact at the foreign ad awards, and when our audiences are slowly being trained to expect better quality, we really need to be pushing the creative agenda, not mediocrity.

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