Airtel digital: In Bollywood ishtyle

By Neha Kalra , afaqs!, New Delhi | In Advertising | August 25, 2009
The 2007 Airtel Live film promoting Google Search posed as a Hollywood trailer. This time, Airtel digital takes a Bollywood cut with Dil Titli. afaqs! checks out the new piece of communication for the DTH player

Taking the filmy route is not new to Airtel. In 2007, for the promotion of Google Search on Airtel Live, the telecom brand seemed hugely inspired by the Indiana Jones series. This time round, it blends Bollywood into the latest communication for the direct-to-home (DTH) brand, Airtel digital.

The campaign features Saif Ali Khan and Kareena Kapoor, and the precursor to the commercial was like the unfolding of a Bollywood film. The launch of the commercial gave away the story, which afaqs! explores.

On August 19, 2009, readers of Delhi Times (DT) and Bombay Times (BT) were surprised to find a write-up by Saif on the first page, in which he spoke about his young lady love and their separation in childhood. With a picture of the little girl, he told the world his story. Simultaneously, on the same day, PVR Cinema halls put up posters on this, almost like a forerunner to a movie.

On August 20, the second part of the write-up appeared on the same right hand corner of the first page of DT and BT, where Saif talked about his search -- whether he would be able to find her or not -- with a visual of him getting someone to recognise the girl in the picture.

Friday, August 21, 2009, was D-Day, where Saif directed readers to their television sets for the revelation, which was to happen that night. At the theatres, posters carried the 'Now Showing' tag with credits of Airtel, JWT (the creative agency for Airtel digital) and Footcandles (the production house). Print media was also used as part of the communication package.

Lo and behold. That night, 70- and 50- second commercials were on-air, completing the story-line. PVR Cinema 'now showed' a 90-second version of the commercial.

Chandrashekhar Radhakrishnan (Chandru), head, brand and media, Bharti Airtel, is sure about Airtel digital's positioning as a brand: "DTH and entertainment is storytelling. Storytelling in India means Bollywood."

Airtel digital made a beginning last October with the promise of magical entertainment, through Come Home to the Magic. Celebrities adorned the communication from all sides, to make the promise seem kept.

The driver for the category, however, Chandru says is picture clarity. "We have always sought to bring alive the proposition of magical entertainment through picture clarity itself, with the best of the technology that we possess."

Talking about this campaign, Chandru points out that the one-line brief to JWT was: the picture is so clear, that every detail that is not visible to the naked eye, can be caught.

With the intention of making it a dramatic and engaging piece of communication, the agency thought of making it seem like a real-life film. Apart from the stories planted in DT and BT, and the posters up in PVR, the radio picked up the teasers too, leaving everyone guessing -- while some linked it to Saif's new release, Love Aaj Kal, others awaited a new feature film.

Priti Kapur, executive creative director on Airtel digital at JWT explains that it's all about a story woven around picture clarity for the brand. "A story in DTH, which has never been told before, in the manner that it has been with this attempt."

Chandru and Kapur are untiring in giving credit to Vinil Matthew, the director of Footcandles, who shot the commercial to make it seem like a feature film.

The film has been shot across Chennai and Pondicherry. The lyrics for the strong background score have been provided by Swanand Kirkire. It is sung by new talent, Nikhil, and the music director is Rupert.

© 2009 afaqs!