HBO uses humour to promote Mumbai Calling

By Sangeeta Tanwar , afaqs!, New Delhi | In Media Publishing | November 18, 2008
Like the show, the campaign reverses call centre mechanics to depict a British born Indian being taught the accents and mannerisms of Mumbaikars


new sitcom, Mumbai Calling, revolves around a British born Indian who is sent to Mumbai to run a call centre and his humorous encounters with the city and its people. It is, literally, a reversal of call centre mechanics, with the protagonist being taught the accents and mannerisms of Mumbaikars.

The ad campaign for the show, which carries the same theme, is no less rib tickling. In an email interview, Shruti Bajpai, country manager, South Asia, HBO Asia, says, "Given the fact that Mumbai Calling is a witty sitcom, the idea was that the creative team should come up with an innovative creative to highlight the main plot and bring out the regional flavour of the show."

She adds, "The campaign plays on the fact that the first step to a call centre induction is language and accent training to help deal with the clientèle. Here, the tables have been turned with the 'Englishman' being taught Mumbai ways."

The campaign, which was created by Mudra, is being carried across print and radio as well as direct mailers and the Internet. The print ads use 'Mumbaiya' words beginning with each letter of the English alphabet, while the radio spots mock fun at the British accent and its peculiarities.

The Mudra team that worked on the campaign was headed by associate creative directors Sayantan Choudhary and Sumonto Ghosh. Choudhary says, "The directions from the channel were to publicise a new series based on an 'Englishman' coming to work at a Mumbai call centre."

Ghosh says, "Inspired by call centre accent and language training, the idea shows the reverse of what ordinarily happens when an Indian joins a call centre. Thus, the communication is all about teaching Mumbaiya accents and peculiarities to a British born person."

Hasan Jafri, senior copywriter, Mudra, who worked on the copy, says, "After getting the brief, everyone in the team called up every acquaintance in Mumbai to find out as many Mumbaiya words and mannerisms as they could. But it turned out that people in Delhi knew more about Mumbaiya than the Mumbaikars themselves."

Jafri recalls, "The task of finding Mumbaiya words for each and every English letter proved quite challenging - the letter X was the worst."

The print campaign is being carried in newspapers such as The Times of India, What's Hot, DNA, DNA After Hours and Bangalore Mirror. The radio plan includes an extensive three week activity across Delhi, Mumbai and Bengaluru. The radio spots are currently on air and running on radio stations such as Radio City, Big FM, Hit FM and Fever 104. The average number of spots per day across channels is 100.

HBO has also put up banner ads on various websites to reach out to youngsters and sent direct mailers to its target audience.

The first season of Mumbai Calling - seven episodes - went on air on November 8.

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