Dissing festival ads on social media has become a national sport in the last few years, second only to cricket, and this month I’m going to explore this genre a bit. But let me kiss before I diss. Some campaigns I liked in recent years:

Coca-Cola’s #MilkeHiManegiDiwali campaign, which brought back the real magic of social connections, post-Covid. Coke’s Diwali campaign urged audiences to not just ‘greet’, but ‘meet’ their friends and family in the festive season.

Amazon’s Khushiyan, Apno Ki Aur Apni Bhiurged customers to prioritise themselves, embrace the ‘I’ within ‘us’… start a new tradition of gifting themselves something special every year.

Tanishq’s Ekatvam campaign for Diwali in 2020 received widespread acclaim for its message of unity and harmony. But it also attracted many trolls. I think it was finally taken down.

Surf Excel’s long running DaagAchhe Hain series of ads have consistently used Holi to tell heart-warming stories of helping others and spreading love. It has a great connect.

Cadbury’s Not Just A Cadbury Ad— where SRK and AI teamed up to give recognition to thousands of small businesses and store vendors that formed part of their distribution network. This was brilliant, probably the most socially meaningful campaign.

Parle-G’sYou Are My Parle-G Diwali campaign in 2019 touched soppy hearts with a tribute to significant but often overlooked relationships — a roommate missing his old room partner, a student realising the value of his teacher, an intern acknowledging his superior and so on.

Last year, laptop maker HP celebrated local artisans, by opening HP World stores to artisans during Diwali. It was very different!

Google India’s Ghar Ka Naam Google Hai Kya? Diwali campaign released in 2020 showcased the role of Google Search in helping people connect with their traditions and find solutions to various festive needs, integrating technology of course.

A few years back, in the sea of 30-seconders, a brilliant four-minute-long film by Mankind Pharma narrated the story of ‘Manohar Bhai’ of ‘Janta Hotel’, a heart-warming story of a small restaurant owner about to close down, and his unlikely benefactor. Featuring actor and writer Piyush Mishra, it shows the returns of spreading kindness.

2023, so far my favourite is the Zomato Durga Puja ad that connects with all Bongs who love pandal hopping — and gorging on various delicacies. Great short format story, it works anywhere. Every word, every scene is a delight.

The new Coke ad takes us pandal hopping with friends… lovely design-led execution, an animated film that unfolds on the surface of a table where an illustrated character comes to life as a chilled Coke is placed along with the sumptuous delights.

Incidentally, approximately 70 per cent Indians are ready to spend more this Diwali, resulting in a 35 per cent increase from last year, according to the Festive Pulse Survey conducted by Trade Desk.

And what’s the biggest category, as per Statista (September 2023)? Puja supplies — a whopping 35 per cent! Way ahead of mobile phones. Finally, social media ads stand out, drawing 34 per cent of consumers’ eyeballs. (Source: India Consumer Sentiment Index)

Happy Diwali! And let us know what ads you liked on social media!

(Shubho Sengupta is a digital marketer with an analogue ad agency past. He can be found @shubhos on X)