AOL: Small things make a difference

By , agencyfaqs!, New Delhi | In Advertising
Last updated : January 02, 2008
A series of five films - shot on a medium budget in Bangalore - form part of the recent campaign

Grant Clarke

and Fred Fischer knew that 'There's a little bit of bad in every good little girl', but AOL takes that line up close and says, 'There is a little bit of me in AOL Mail'. Aimed to bring out the importance of personal space and tastes, AOL has launched two television commercials (TVCs) to communicate the features of

Self testimony of a bad memory

Can't remember names,
dates and birthdays

Forgets his own birthday...

Happy to be introduced to AOL

There's a little bit of
him in AOL mail

Product shot
The film opens on a shot of a man with a poor memory - he is shown searching for his scooter keys, then being unable to recognise a man who greets him. He even forgets his own birthday! He is then shown narrating the benefits of AOL mail - remembering email IDs, dates and events, unlimited storage. The man then says the tagline, which also appears on screen, "There is a little bit of me in AOL Mail." (Submit your opinion on this ad.)

The second film depicts a girl and her passion for colours. She has nail paint, tea cups, and even slippers in many different colours. Just then, she's feeling a bit blue because she has broken up with her boyfriend, so she colours herself and her room all in blue. Then she receives an SMS and gets excited because Sunil has asked her out - she is now in a mood for orange. She talks about the customisation feature of AOL Mail, how everything changes colour in just a click. "There is a little bit of me in AOL Mail!" she exclaims. The last shot of both the TVCs have the logo of AOL Mail and highlights the service's unlimited storage feature.

Five TVCs have been created for the campaign. Each of them depicts a feature that would make consumers switch to another brand in the category. The features are good memory, customisation and colour, one click convenience and shortcuts, the two in one feature (messenger and mail), and a spam free inbox. Of the five TVCs, only two are running on television currently; the other three will be released in the next few weeks. The feature of unlimited storage is highlighted, with the brand logo, at the end of each TVC.

Krish Seshadri, senior director and head, marketing and content,, says, "The brief that was given to the agency was essentially a product brief, in which the agency was clearly supposed to focus on a bunch of little things, rather than just one product, or one feature of the product. Once it was decided that more than one TVC would be required to put the brand in context, characters were built around the features to be advertised. All the features were threaded with a tagline, 'There is a little bit of me in AOL Mail'."

AOL, a Time Warner company, began operations in India in April 2007. In May, a launch campaign was flagged off, which comprised outdoor, print, radio and online. In October, AOL launched its first ever TVC in India, depicting a youngster trying his level best to be featured on television. Apart from creating awareness, the TVC aimed to drive trial and get people to participate in a contest, 'Bano TV Star', by giving their feedback about the website. AOL wanted to get consumers talking about the product and it received feedback in large numbers. People sending in the best feedback were shortlisted under the contest, and those willing to be filmed were invited for screen tests. Suryakant Chatterjee, a 26 year old account executive, coincidentally also from the advertising fraternity, was pronounced the winner. Chatterjee is an account executive at Fortune Communications.

Chatterjee hasn't been featured in the two ads that have been released, but he is the protagonist in the fourth TVC in the set. He says, "This effort by AOL is appreciated, and considering the way they have planned the entire process, it gives an opportunity that one looks forward to - it's a great experience in terms of exposure."

The third TVC, which is to be rolled out soon, highlights the drag and drop option and the one click delete feature for mails; with other email providers, the process takes two clicks, first to select the mail and then to delete it. The fourth TVC, which features Chatterjee, shows the 'chat while mailing, and mail while chatting' feature; Chatterjee plays the man who has two lives at work. The fifth TVC talks about the clean inbox feature - AOL has the best technology today to fight spam.

Seshadri says the TVCs were produced by Bangalore based Zero Rules on a medium sized budget. The target audience for AOL and its communication is the online audience in the SEC A and B segments within the age band of 18-30 years, in the top 10 metros and Tier II cities. Both existing email users and new ones are targeted.

"Amongst the 40 million online users, they may or may not have an email ID. And in many cases, one may have multiple email IDs for different purposes. In the case of the latter, we are also looking at an entry in the segment of secondary email, from where a transformation to the segment of primary IDs might happen gradually," says Seshadri.

Sudarshan Banerjee, associate vice-president, client servicing, Saatchi & Saatchi, says, "The TVCs might not have mass appeal, but selective people would like to possess the features that are advertised in their mail. Everybody has their own quirks, and how much ever one denies it, small things do make a difference. The TVCs are designed as a one to one communication to give a testimonial feel. It was necessary to give the brand a differentiated feel from the clutter, and go that extra mile to communicate about personal space."

Rajeev Ravindranathan, creative director, Saatchi & Saatchi Bangalore, is the creative mind behind the script and creatives of the films. Madison Media is the media agency for AOL.

Reveals Seshadri, "Speed and unlimited storage are more like hygiene aspects today and available without a mention (taken for granted). It was necessary to go beyond these two factors, and the feedback that AOL got from the participants of the contest has helped in bringing out the best of the brand for consumers to see."

He continues, "Today, mail is a mature category, and just being fast isn't good enough a reason for people to switch to your brand. There is no one silver bullet that is the key to obtaining the best. We conducted a contest and got people to use the brand and send in their feedback. This was followed by extensive research to determine the factors that would entice people to switch, post which we shortlisted some broad pointers which have now taken the form of the TVCs."

Apart from television, AOL plans to use a mix of print and online advertising. The channels on which the two TVCs are running are NDTV 24x7, CNN IBN, STAR News, Cartoon Network, Pogo, Zee Studio, HBO, Ten Sports, Discovery, Discovery T&L, Animal Planet, STAR Vijay, Zee Cinema, SET Max, STAR Gold, Etc Music India and MTV. The print advertisements have appeared in magazines such as Outlook, JAM (Just A Minute) and Businessworld.

Seshadri adds, "Gmail never needed to advertise and Yahoo stepped into India seven years back - both have been in the market for a while now and have had their share of the cake. We have entered the market a bit late, so we have to try harder for our share of space. But looking at the registrations flowing in on, I am assured that we will be at the number two or number three slot, in terms of mail registrations, sometime within 2008."

First Published : January 02, 2008
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