When advertising goes the candid camera way

By Devina Joshi , afaqs!, Mumbai | In Advertising | November 17, 2008
To mark the relaunch of Amrutanjan, Mudra has created not one or two, but 10 capsule ad films, shot in candid camera style to induce humour

It & #BANNER1 & # may look like a clip out of some Funniest Home Videos show, but do a double take, and you find out it's actually an ad.

To relaunch pain reliever brand Amrutanjan, Mudra DDB (which won the account earlier in the year) has crafted a campaign comprising 10 ad films, which employ the candid camera style of shooting, in an attempt to infuse humour into the category.

Glory days
At some point, the over 115 year old brand was a category leader, particularly down South. However, aggressive advertisers Emami and Zandu have ruled the ad circuit over the last few years, while complacency on Amrutanjan's part has led to the brand losing out in some markets.

According to Sambhu Prasad, managing director, Amrutanjan Health Care, "Amrutanjan has always been a heritage brand, but in the face of competition, we needed to relaunch it to make it relevant to a whole new generation of consumers." The first step in this process was new packaging and some new launches, including a joint pain reliever cream that was launched last year, with TV actor Smriti Irani as its brand ambassador.

"The problem with heritage brands is that if one doesn't revive them from time to time, they lose relevance," says Bobby Pawar, chief creative officer, Mudra Group.

Created by the Mudra team led by Pawar and Joono Simon, executive creative director, Mudra South, the creatives are capsule films that show funny, realistic situations in which people unexpectedly end up hurting themselves, with the brand positioned as an insurance against these pains. 'Be Ready' is the new positioning thought: the very same one that helped Mudra win the account.

According to research by Mudra, it was deduced that although the brand has a very loyal use base (68 per cent of regular users are using it for more than six years) it was not able to attract new users from the category. The brief was to "position the brand as a specialist in pain management."

Laughter is the best medicine

One of the films shows a lady in a resort, walking towards a table near the pool. Just as she pulls up a chair for herself, the chair slips and falls into the pool and the lady suffers a nasty fall. She makes a mad dash for the table, but pulls it right along with her into the pool. Just as the 'ouch' scene plays out, the voiceover concludes, "Pain can hit you any time. Be ready with Amrutanjan."

Another film shows construction workers passing bricks to one another, but due to bad timing, one of the workers gets a thwack on his head with one of the bricks he missed.

A third film has a man getting ready to dive into a pool, except that his leg slips on the diving board and he suffers a nasty fall as a result.

By showing these comic mishaps, Mudra DDB hopes to convey how the need for a pain reliever like Amrutajan can arise any time - sometimes, quite unexpectedly. "We tend to multi-task and not everything gets our 100 per cent attention. We are exposed to so many things that can hurt us, and you never know when you may need a pain reliever," says Pawar. After all, pain doesn't give an advance warning.

Simon attributes the candid camera execution to the rising popularity of reality shows and an appreciation for real life humour. "People anyway prefer non-scripted dramas to scripted ones. We wanted this to look like a candid and effortless gag, rather than an ad," he says. So the casting, locations, costume, and every other component in the film was carefully worked out to make it look like a genuine blooper.

The ads comprise one 30 second spot (a combination of all the bloopers) and some nine shorter 10 seconders. On the rationale behind creating this many films, Simon tells afaqs!, "These films don't belong to the regular genre of formula films. They are short films that work better when they are launched together like cluster bombs."

They have been shot with a handheld camera by Ayappa of Footcandles Films. A comic South Indian voiceover has been thrown in for good measure.

As raw as it gets
The films are raw and in your face, as though an amateur had caught the funny moments on tape. "This real life feel makes the message far more powerful," says Pawar. Mudra hopes people will find the 'It happened to this poor chap' element funny, as generally, people find it easier to laugh at others' follies. The films also have the potential to turn into virals on the web, he says.

Although Amrutanjan is skewed towards the South, this campaign will target the national media and is slated to appear on news channels soon. The media agency on the account is Media Direction. Apart from TV and web, media vehicles such as print, outdoor, radio and on-ground activation will be leveraged.

The films were shot within a production budget of Rs 70 lakh, while the media spends are pegged at Rs 7 crore.

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When afaqs! shared the films with members of the Indian creative fraternity, some interesting views followed. Ashish Khazanchi, national creative director, Publicis Ambience, says, "These films are laugh out loud funny. I particularly enjoyed the poolside film. The candid camera feel could have been executed better in the other two."

However, Khazanchi has his apprehensions: "I'd be saddened if these were done for awards alone because I think there's a lot of viral potential in them. This is exactly the kind of stuff people love to pass on through MMSes. I can't wait to catch these on television as well."

Sumanto Chattopadhyay, executive creative director, Ogilvy & Mather, South Asia, seems to have enjoyed the spots, too. "Their gritty, candid, 'viral' look works for them," he says. "The low production budgets and short duration ads make for an economical way to relaunch the brand."

Satbir Singh, chief creative officer, Euro RSCG, is of the opinion that normally, the product would be more related to internal aches than pains from external factors. "But that's okay… the category is still pretty much moaning and groaning like it did at the beginning of time. This one seems like someone's thrown in some fresh thinking and executed it on a budget in keeping with the current economic sentiments," he quips.