It's all black and white for eBay

By Savia Jane Pinto , afaqs!, Mumbai | In Advertising | December 22, 2009
A series of ads shot in Doordarshan style talk about the different benefits that make eBay more preferred than other e-commerce portals

The Indian consumer has definitely become savvier on the internet, and for many, e-commerce has become a way of life. eBay, the e-commerce portal where one can buy and sell various products, has released its newest communication created by Wieden + Kennedy (W+K), the agency that was recently appointed for the brand.

eBay took over the five-year-old about four-and-a-half years ago. Since then, the brand has been advertising on digital media. However, its last campaign, released in December 2007, was a full-fledged, multi-media one.

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Online transactions, on the face of it, are an easy and convenient way of shopping. But perhaps, consumer perception needs to change for e-commerce to grow further.

Studies say that close to 45 million Indians spend time online. Of these, at least 35 million visit the internet on a daily basis. Approximately 90 per cent of this 35 million surf the net to look for products or search for the best deals, even if the final purchase happens offline.

Kashyap Vadapalli, director, marketing and operations, eBay India, tells afaqs! that it's this 90 per cent of online visitors that the company hopes to target. "There is a vast segment of people who rely on the internet to make the initial search for any product, be it jewellery or electronic items," he says.

The online shopping industry works on certain triggers, namely, variety (the range of products a site can offer); the deal (whether or not the portal offers the best price deals) and convenience (how easy it is to trade - buy or sell). eBay has been working on building all three triggers. The creative agency was briefed on creating communication that highlighted these three aspects of e-commerce.

Far sightedness - Doordarshan is the way to go

To talk about the ease of transacting at eBay, W+K thought that creating a format would be a good idea, as it would allow for continuity and become a platform to showcase eBay.

The format that the creative team came up with was that of a typical Doordarshan (DD) chat show. To add to the charm and drama of DD, the anchors for the show are Dr Narrotam Puri and Komal GB Singh, who have hosted many a show on DD.

Currently, the campaign comprises four ads. The creative idea involves a mock show called 'The eBay way', where Puri and Singh answer queries from callers. In one of the ads, a girl calls up to ask how she should manage three new boyfriends, apart from the three that she's already dating. Singh advises her to visit eBay, and the girl is stunned. Puri clarifies that though she won't find any new boyfriends on eBay, she would most definitely find the best deals on the site.

Similarly, in the other three situations, called 'Dog', 'Credit Cards' and 'Oscar', callers pose different problems, to which the constant solution offered by the hosts is to visit eBay.

Each of the films highlights different offerings that eBay can deliver upon, such as discounts, safe payments and a wide variety of products.

The creative team at W+K includes: V Sunil, executive creative director; Mohamed Rizwan, senior creative; Hanif Kureshi, senior creative and Umesh Grover, writer.

"The treatment and delivery of the campaign are in keeping with the kind that used to happen on DD," shares Rizwan. He also says that the anchors prescribing eBay for all problems is aimed at giving the campaign a humourous twist. "They'd sell eBay to a caller, no matter what," he says.

The films have been shot in black and white and have a very 70s feel. The four films have been shot by Jacob John, the resident creative director at W+K, who, many a time, dons a director's hat.

eBay way or the highway?

afaqs! spoke to a couple of adlanders on what they thought of the commercials.

Devika Sharma, planning head for Lowe Lintas, Mumbai, says she looked hard for a strong consumer insight, but didn't find any. "All that there is to the commercials is Uncle and Aunty pushing eBay," she says. Sharma points out that all callers to the show were youth; and the youth usually log on to Google or ask their peer groups for suggestions, not call in on a show hosted by older people.

She adds that the show didn't necessarily draw attention to something strong about the brand, but just spoke of how eBay is great on discounts.

On what interests him about the ads, Nilesh Vaidya, creative head, Euro RSCG Mumbai, says, after a long pause, "It was good seeing Narottam Puri and Komal GB Singh after such a long time. Period."

The commercials are being supported with print, outdoor and radio, which, keeping in line with the campaign theme, are also reminiscent of the DD format.