afaqs!

Pitches, campaigns galore: Look Skyward for all the action

By Devina Joshi , afaqs!, Mumbai | In Advertising | August 25, 2008
Tata Sky has just released a new commercial featuring its first ever brand ambassador, actor Aamir Khan. Simultaneously, the DTH operator has also called for a creative pitch for its upcoming personal video recorder (PVR) offering. A look at what the brand is up to

If one & #BANNER1 & # happens to walk into the marketing department at Tata Sky at this very moment, chances are one will witness a mild whirlwind of sorts. The DTH (direct to home) brand, launched in 2006, is up to its neck in a flurry of marketing activities, which include a new commercial, a new brand ambassador and a creative pitch to top it off.

Pitch time
Tata Sky is soon to launch a PVR (personal video recorder) service, for which it has called for a creative pitch. Meanwhile, current agency Rediffusion DY&R continues to handle the mother brand's creative duties. Among those invited for the Tata Sky PVR pitch are Contract and Rediffusion. Reportedly, ad spends of more than Rs 10 crore have been allotted to this service offering. There is no change on the media front: Maxus continues with the account. OgilvyAction is in charge of the outdoor work.

According to sources, the team that created the Jhingalala campaigns has moved out and the new team has made a good effort to match up. However, one can't help but wonder whether the main brand, Tata Sky, will be phased out of Rediffusion eventually.

Vikram Mehra, chief marketing officer, Tata Sky, clarifies, "No, at this point, Tata Sky is very much with Rediffusion and the pitch is on only for the upcoming PVR service." One will just have to wait and see how that one turns out.

Aamir Khan to the rescue
A short time ago, Tata Sky had declared "perfectionist" actor Aamir Khan as its first ever brand ambassador (remember the Hrithik Roshan Jhingalala ads? Apparently, those were tactical ones for the ActivSports proposition). The first ad featuring Khan will break this evening (August 25) at 7pm on television screens.

Frames for the Tata Sky film
The ad, created by the Rediffusion DY&R team, has Khan simultaneously impersonating a husband and a wife (half dressed as a man, and the other half, a woman). It shows the argument between a man and his wife on their wedding night. The lady insists on a Sky DTH connection for its superior technology "which comes straight from the sky", while the husband refuses to budge from his trustworthy Tata service offering. As the two argue, the husband reveals to his 'wife' that he was simply egging her on; just in the way they are married to each other, Tata and Sky, too, are one and the same, jointly called Tata Sky. As the duo launch into a naughty verbal duel, the husband advises families to embrace Tata Sky.

On the objective behind this TV commercial, Mehra says, "Just like the wife in the ad, a lot of people believe that the word 'sky' in our brand name implies a satellite service that comes from the sky."

"But we want to clarify the origins of our brand name. Sky stands for the name of our joint venture partner, which is known for its superior technology worldwide," Mehra explains. Tata Sky is the 80:20 joint venture between the Tata Group and STAR (the Sky brand, owned by the UK based British Sky Broadcasting Group, which brings to Tata Sky more than 20 years experience in satellite broadcasting).

Through the couple's argument, Tata Sky hopes to propagate its theory that "no one understands India like the Tatas and no one understands DTH technology like Sky". But why do so now and not at the time of the brand's launch?

"Actually, we had never established what Sky is," says Mehra. "Only when we realised that consumers were confused about it did we decide to educate them."

As Tata Sky's brand ambassador, Khan will soon be seen advertising its other services as well. "Establishing the JV before consumers is our first task," says Mehra.

The film has been directed by Neeraj Vora, who had, incidentally, also co-written the screenplay for the 1995 super hit Aamir Khan starrer, Rangeela. The dialogues in the Tata Sky film have been penned by Rediffusion, Vora and Khan himself.

Scent of a woman
Incidentally, this is not the first time Khan is impersonating a woman. He did it first for an item number in the film, Baazi. In advertising, Khan acted as Manno Bhabhi in one of the Thanda Matlab Coca-Cola series of commercials.

On his role in the new Tata Sky film, Khan says, "It was a little tough with the wig. I had to focus a lot on my body and its movements as I would have to quickly switch over, which required constant attention all the time."

Neeraj Vora, who directed the ad film, comments, "We wanted to do something around the idea of the technology of Sky and Tata, one of the country's most trustworthy companies, getting married. It was challenging... in the makeup also, care was taken to show a difference in the skin tones."

The campaign will make use of television, press, radio and outdoor, apart from some below-the-line activities.