IndiGo: Low Cost Ad

By Abhishek Chanda , afaqs!, New Delhi | In Advertising | April 13, 2009
The low cost airline has released a TVC for the first time. Unlike regular airline ads, it has opted for an animated ad - to cut the cost and break the clutter. afaqs! finds out more

Indigo Airlines, the low cost carrier (LCC) that started its operations in the Indian skies in 2006, has launched its first ever TVC amidst the bitter clouds hovering over the aviation industry in general. With the industry and airline brands reeling under huge losses, IndiGo has tried something new by launching a TVC in animation.

Unlike regular airline ads that have real life shots of sun-bathed aircraft interiors, smiling air hostesses and cherry topped desserts, the IndiGo ad has animated characters playing out the story of a typical Indian flier. However, it does not fall short of commentaries about aircraft features and services offered, like all the other airline ads.

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The film opens with the story of Ajay, a senior executive who is also a frequent flier. The narrative of the film introduces the character and his traits, which is typical of the general Indian flier. For example, he always reaches the airport late but wants to reach his destination at the earliest.

The TVC then goes on to describe some of the services offered by IndiGo to make the journey of fliers like Ajay hassle free. The film ends with a dig at the fliers, who can be seen busy opening up the overhead luggage bins, switching on their cell phones and getting impatient as soon as the flight touches down on the runway, while an air hostess tries her best to contain them. The film ends with a VO stating "Indigo, designed for the Indian traveller".

The film has been created by Wieden+Kennedy (W+K) Delhi, which had won the account in its previous avatar as A Advertising, in 2005. It has been created by V Sunil, global partner and chief creative, W+K India, and directed by Shiven Surendranath. It has been produced by VHQ, Singapore.

Speaking to afaqs!, Sunil maintains that while they were not working on a specific brief for the film, the effort was to deliver something that would talk about the IndiGo experience, married with real life accounts of air travellers.

On the choice of animation for execution, he says, "We were originally casting for a common man. But then we thought that in doing so, we would be typecasting a face that would become representative of the airline. So, we headed for animation. Not forgetting the fact that it helps cut through clutter of the same old airline ads!"

On the flip-side, Sanjay Kumar, chief commercial officer, IndiGo, maintains that costs were an important factor in favour of animation, apart from breaking the clutter. "Such troubled times demand cost-control," he adds.

However, he finds a positive side to this situation, too, and says, "While most brands are trying to make ends meet and focus on cost cutting, we thought this would be a good time to create awareness, especially given the fact that the brand is performing really well."

The rationale

One wonders whether it is a risk to have not used images of the aircraft to give a taste of the look and feel, especially for a service industry like aviation. Sunil states emphatically that they were not putting anything at stake.

"In fact, we have never shown the aircraft in any of our print or outdoor ads till now. The 'dotted-airline' has been a proof of the brand image which is cool, youthful and relaxed. The whole communication approach has been quite different from all the regular stuff that you see," he adds. Incidentally, the brand doesn't have a baseline, like most of the other airline brands.

IndiGo claims that it has a market share of 13.7 per cent, growing steadily, within three years of its operations. It maintains that it is breaking away from the 'stigma' of a LCC and is rather positioned as a 'no-frills-chic' airline. With the slowdown at its worst, a lot of fliers are migrating from full service airlines such as Jet and Kingfisher to LCCs, citing the cost factor. IndiGo maintains that it has been receiving a steady influx of new fliers, as well as retaining its existing customers through a larger network and increased frequencies.

Siddharth Loyal, brand strategy, W+K, says, "Though IndiGo offers low fares, the communication is all about the experience. To maintain the brand image of a cool, youthful airline, a similar tone has been maintained in the communication, too. So much so, simple details such as fragile tags and queue managers to sandwiches being branded as 'airwiches' have been included."

Sunil seconds that by saying that the agency is deeply involved in the workings of the brand and doesn't just maintain a superficial client-agency relationship.

The brand has mainly practiced tactical advertising through outdoor ads and print since its launch. In early 2009, it had released some interesting hoardings in strategic locations. The current TVC will enjoy a limited exposure of four-six weeks and will be featured in five major news channels. Kumar defends the limited media plan as a cost-control measure. Crescent is the media agency for the brand.

Fellow fliers

Though IndiGo is out with one of the first animated films in the history of Indian aviation advertising, ad peers don't seem too impressed with the effort.

Vikram Dhaliwal, senior planning director, Bates 141 Delhi, says, "This commercial is a classic example of feel good advertising. But feel good only for the client. They feel good about the fact that their understanding of the consumer is so clearly out on the screen. But there is no advertising idea in this commercial."

He thinks the brand has managed to muster up only a superficial understanding of the consumer. "The classic mistake is to assume that people are consumers and nothing else. That they have no motivations or desires outside their desire to consume," he points out.

According to him, the airline industry is a service industry, where what matters is not so much what you offer, but how you offer it. May be that's why so many corporate executives prefer to fly Jet when Kingfisher has the seat back televisions and the glamour dolls.

Rahul Jauhari, creative head, Pickle Advertising, finds the film rather impersonal. "The animation was simple but basic - nothing memorable there, while the audio sounded like a research driven take on domestic travel in India," he adds.

Though he likes the little dig at Indian travellers in the end, the film did not touch him remotely, he maintains. "Maybe the Air Deccan TVC has set the standards too high. Maybe I expected something radical from W+K," he sighs.