Posted on: 21 February 2024

Let’s start with a small exercise:

Close your eyes, and think about the brands Rajnigandha or Budweiser! 

What do these brands sell? 

If you say elaichi or club soda, it’s time to step out from under the rock and take a walk in the REAL world!!

Although advertised as a humble spice or just some good ol’ sparkling water, these brands sell all the things your mom warned you about!! 

And this, lovely readers, is called Surrogate Advertising!

Before we get into what surrogate advertising is, let’s talk about what it’s ABSOLUTELY NOT!

Remember when a certain celebrity faked her own death to promote cervical cancer? Well, that massively backfired!!!


Between all the finger-pointing and blame-gaming, there’s only one real takeaway - sometimes an idea should be left at an IDEA!!

Reports have emerged about a certain Pharma company’s involvement in a bid to increase sales of their cervical cancer vaccine - but this has been kept hush-hush!! 🤫

Surrogate advertising is a great way to promote Pharma products, which are strictly governed. But let’s also keep our hearts (and heads) in a sane place!!

Before you read any further, think about all the surrogate advertising you’ve seen. What was the most influential??

Fret not - the moo-dy gang is here to jog your memory!

Cool Guy

Vimal Elaichi cast Shah Rukh Khan, Akshay Kumar, and Ajay Devgn together for an ad. 

Ahh, the complicated elaichi. Hate when you bite into one when enjoying biryani!! 😡

With these mega-budget celebrity campaigns, the Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) has tightened ad spends for brand extensions of restricted categories.

Now, they must be in proportion to the sales turnover of the brand extension.

Note, not the main brand being advertised - but the EXTENSION!

Cool Guy

Do you remember this ad from way back in 2015?

Ah!! Good ads come and go, but Oo La La La La Le O will forever be imprinted in our hearts.

So, we learnt that:

KINGFISHER SELLS………………………………………………..Packaged drinking water?💧

No, sir!

With beer banned from advertising, Kingfisher poured us an earworm-worthy melody. 

Cool Guy

Others aren’t too far behind!!

Check out this ad by Budweiser X Siddhant Chaturvedi

Alcoholic beverages are a strict no-no for ads, but who said anything about 0% alcohol?

Smart, right?? 

We’re not done yet!

Cool Guy

Pick any edition of the ICC Cricket World Cup. How many surrogate sponsors can you pick out?

From Bira 91 to Jacob’s Creek to Royal Stag, and more, the list of partners is endless. And they’re selling anything under the sun, whether it’s club soda or even AI fan experiences. 😲

Smart, but let’s see how they hold up against the latest ASCI rule!

Cool Guy

JUST IN!! The latest in surrogate advertising - MUSIC FESTIVALS!!

Nothing describes this opportunity better than Bacardi’s tagline: “When Music Kicks Into the Rescue”

It’s no surprise that they’re the official sponsor of NH7 Weekender:

Here’s last year’s ad for the festival:

No filters or sneaky marketing needed - just the word Bacardi is enough!!!

Imagine, you’re dancing on a sprawling lawn, listening to a great artist, with a refreshing drink in your hand.

Ahh… BLISSFULL, isn’t it?💃

BRB - got to find out where the next music festival is happening!!

Cool Guy
Surrogate marketing: the final outcome

The purpose of surrogate marketing isn’t to market a product; it’s to market the BRAND!!

We all know what Budweiser, Royal Stag, or Vimal really sell, so educating the audience isn’t the goal.

With competitors emerging as each day passes (take any Gin brand from Goa at this point), it’s to bring to their notice that these OG brands still exist!!

And, in the case of Pharma products - let’s just say we hope not to see any more ‘fake deaths.’ 🙈

What is one iconic surrogate advertisement that will reign supreme?? Let us know in the comments!!