The word ‘exam’ in India is a term that generally evokes fear in students. Is it the peer pressure, or the pin-drop silence in an exam hall, or maybe the expectations of our family, or a combination of it all that freaks us out so much? During exam week, everyone is suddenly on high alert, like they’ve just found out the end of the world is approaching and they have no survival plan. If you visit a school during this time, you can see students pacing the corridors with books in their hands, trying to memorize math formulas and whatnot. For those of you who have been out of school for more than ten years, do you remember Pythagoras’ theorem or Newton’s three Laws of Motion? Do you remember the symbolism in P. B. Shelley’s Ode to the West Wind that you probably spent at least fifteen minutes memorizing for your English exam?

Of course, exams are important, but the question is how important are they? Why do we break our heads the night before exams? Recently, brands have addressed this issue in their ads. Here are five ads whose takes we found interesting.

Bournvita’s Clearance Sale: #LookBeyondMarks

Growing up, how many times have you been told to concentrate on your studies instead of always playing or reading? How many times have you been told that your hobbies are just that, hobbies, that won’t lead to anything?

The children in Bournvita’s ad are shown giving away their paints, guitars, keyboards, football shoes etc. so that ‘they can focus on what’s really important’ i.e. exams. Is it surprising though that the adults in the ad are uncomfortable and are not in agreement with what’s happening? How many of us have gone through this and how many of us have done the same thing to our kids? Bournvita’s ad is truly thought-provoking.


On the day of the exam, you see students praying fervently for a delay in exam. Maybe a flood or a strike will happen and the paper will be postponed, maybe the question papers will catch fire so you don’t have to write the exam. The point is the student imagination runs wild trying to escape the stress of the upcoming exams. In this ad, the parents who are questioning the children till the last minute on formulas and laws are also asked to write the exam their children are writing. What transpires causes the parents to realize the undue amount of stress they allow the children to feel during exams with phrases like “make me proud” “score more than your cousin” “if you don’t get above 90% no PS for you.”


Perhaps in stark contrast to the ideologies that Bournvita and Cello presented, is Horlicks’ ad that has a peppy background score that summarizes the fear most students go through but not the ones who drink Horlicks. While it can be said that the lyrics are humorous ‘one spoon of tension, a cup of stress and a plate full of fear’ and the fact that the Horlicks’ children are unaffected, because as the ad says, drinking Horlicks allows them to focus better —the approach is certainly different from the other two ads. However, Horlicks’ role is clear in their ad while Bournvita and Cello’s perhaps is less so.

Here are some other ads on the subject that strike home from the past few years:

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