Rising hopes at Usha

By Poojya Trivedi , afaqs!, New Delhi | In Advertising | October 26, 2009
The maker of Usha sewing machines, Usha International, has made a comeback with a corporate campaign and a jingle, Usha hai toh asha hai

One may recall the black sewing machine in most Indian middle class homes till about a decade ago. One brand that was most trusted in this category was Usha - launched in 1934. As the sewing machines started disappearing from Indian homes, the brand Usha somehow also went into oblivion. Though the company ventured into other categories such as ceiling fans, mixer-grinders, water pumps, engines, hoods, hobs, cook tops and water dispensers, the brand Usha was still largely associated with sewing machines and later, ceiling fans.

The advent of new international brands further affected the image. The company now plans to get back into reckoning and hopes to be among the top 50 companies in the country in three years. To make noise to that effect, the company has unleashed a corporate ad film on television screens.

& #BANNER1 & #The ad opens on the shot of a boy holding a paper fan and running across fields equipped with Usha's water pumps (which result in good crop production). Next, a woman tries to solve a Rubik's Cube puzzle, while an Usha table fan cools her. Cut to a woman putting her child to sleep, where she switches on Usha's ceiling fan. Then, one sees a woman working with Usha's kitchen equipment at home, while another stitches clothes for a fashion show with Usha's sewing machine. The last shot has all these protagonists rejoicing, while the music track concludes with a jingle: 'Usha hai toh asha hai' (Where there's Usha, There's hope).

The ad is a part of the Aura campaign recently launched by the company to bring back the 'lost' name of the company in the minds of its customers.

The brief given to Ogilvy was that as Usha has been around for a long time, it offers a wide product range. The company wanted a line that appeals to people of varied income groups and backgrounds. With such a wide net to cast, the biggest difficulty in shooting was to come up with the line that does not lose its flavour on translation.

Piyush Pandey, executive chairperson and creative director, Ogilvy South Asia, came up with the tagline, the thinking behind which was that Usha is seen as a beacon of hope by consumers.

"I wanted someone who will understand the past and the future of the company and the romance. Piyush understood the poetry that Usha is," says Sriram. The ad film has been shot by Pradeep Sarkar of Apocalypso Filmworks.

"We have not done any communication piece for the last three-four years. We did a few regional ads, but not of this scale. So, with the Aura campaign, we want people to recall Usha as a brand," says Krishna Sriram, strategic advisor, Usha.

Earlier ads for Usha have been product specific, while the current ad projects the company as a single entity (a mix of its historical heritage and modernity) that people can associate with. This ad is the first amongst several in the Aura campaign. This will be followed by five-six product ads in the coming year. Forthcoming ads will feature sewing machines, hoods, hobs and cook tops, diesel pump sets, water coolers and water dispensers. There will also be print ads for pumps and submersible pumps for the rural areas.

In the next two-three years, the company plans to launch similar branding campaigns to reposition itself as a young company with its core values still intact.

Keeping that in mind, the ad uses its old logo with four red squares, with 'U', 'S', 'H', and 'A' written on each one of them, while it is shot with a "young and fresh" feel. The ad has been created by Ogilvy India.

"Usha hai toh asha hai is a positive message that we are bringing to the people, the idea being to convey that wherever Usha is present, there is the chance of a better tomorrow. It is a message of optimism and a message of hope," says Ajay Gahlaut, group creative director, Ogilvy India, who is handling the Aura campaign. Essentially, Aura is to create the platform to show-off these products.

In a nutshell, Usha hopes to reposition itself as a younger brand, without letting go of its legacy.

Until last year, Usha's ad spend was Rs 16 crore, focusing mainly on rural areas. This year, the company claims to have spent Rs 50 crore on advertising, out of which the Aura campaign has a budget of about Rs 7 crore. Television and print will form the chief media mix.