Havells unravels new story

By Antara Ghosal , afaqs!, New Delhi | In Advertising
Last updated : March 18, 2010
The campaign by the electrical equipment manufacturer broke in the form of two TVCs; one tells the tale of a hangman fighting his guilt feeling, while the other takes forward the 'shock laga' story

With cricket fever soaring high at the onset of IPL Season 3, electrical equipment manufacturer Havells India, which has a record of using 'cricket as a channel than a medium for its promotion', has rolled out a brand new campaign for its range of products.

The campaign, which so far has broken in the form of two TVCs - one for its collection of CFLs (compact fluorescent lamps) and the other for RCCB, MCPs (miniature circuit breakers), also has another two in the pipeline. The upcoming TVCs will be for the brand's energy saving fans and the range of wires/cables respectively. All the ads have been created by the brand's agency, Lowe Delhi.

Creative Punch

The first ad shows a hangman feeling guilty after executing a death sentence. He comes home with a heavy heart. However, switching on the CFL at his home makes him feel better. He realises that he is at least doing some good by saving the environment and saving electricity. The VO runs 'Zindagi main hum sabko paap karna padta hai, kuchh to punya kama sakte hai, bijli bachake'. (We all have to commit so many sins in our lives; we can earn some blessings by at least saving electricity). The ad then upholds the energy saving proposition of the brand's CFLs.

While explaining the creative idea behind the ad, R Balakrishnan (Balki), chairperson, Lowe Lintas, says, "The ad depicts a real life situation. All of us have to do what we have to do in our daily lives, but when we know we've done something wrong as a part of our job, a feeling of guilt creeps up within us. We feel good when we do some good deeds like a little charity or small bits of help. It's a way of compensating for our guilt.

"Here the hangman who feels bad each time he does his work and puts somebody to death feels good by saving electricity," adds Balki.

The approach in the hangman ad, Balki narrates, is kept bold and stark to break the clutter and appeal to the consumers. The casting of the ad, he admits, has been done keeping the tone of the creative in mind. "We have featured a random guy from Chennai who has never acted in a film. However, it's his unconventional looks and powerful expressions that has made the ad look so real," he says.

The new 'Shock Lagaa' commercial is actually a sequel of the earlier 'Shock Lagaa' campaign. Keeping the concept and the premise intact, a new plot has been created and given a tongue-in-cheek treatment.

The ad starts with the protagonist trying to switch on a hair dryer and receiving an electric shock. As his maid comes to his help, both of them start shivering from the electric jolt. The protagonist's wife, who mistakes them to be dancing, tries to set them apart but instead joins the gang. The laugh riot continues until the protagonist's son removes the hairdryer with a piece of wood. The thumping track, 'shock laga laga', further sets the comic tone. At the end, the VO runs 'Havells nehi lagaoge toh shock lagega', reinstating the shock proof proposition of the brand's MCBs.

In the earlier ads, such as the Shock Laga ad (shock proof switches), Ujjawal Ati Ujjawal ad (CFL bulbs), or the mother-son story (fire-proof wires), Havells has successfully utilised emotional twists and humorous gestures.

Explaining the reason behind incorporating emotions and sentiments into a hardcore functional category such as electrical accessories, Balki clarifies, "The category itself is very drab and not many people take interest in it. We try to incorporate emotions and sentiments in our communications to make it closer to people's heart and also to stand out amidst all those who keep talking about numbers and features."

The hangman ad is produced by Red Ice Films and directed by Gauri Shinde. The Shock Laga campaign is directed by Nikhil Rao, and produced by Chrome Pictures. The ads are written by R Balki and the creative director for the hangman TVC is Uday Shankar; Anand S is the creative director for the Shock Laga TVC.

Causing 'hang'over or shock?

When it comes to TVCs, Havells has impressed the ad fraternity time and again with the distinctness of its communication. However, the question is - will history repeat itself? Well, the fraternity seems to be divided on that.

Both Vineet Mahajan, senior creative director, McCann Erickson Delhi and Mani Jayaram, vice-pesident, creative, Euro RSCG India liked the Shock Laga campaign better. "The TVC has a sense of humour. It conveys the message 'use Havells' in a simple but effective way. Also, the production quality is good. Nice track as well. This TVC would, in my opinion, give the brand a recall value and the desired results," adds Jayaram.

However, both of them have their concerns about the hangman campaign. "I can sense that for this one, the reaction would be quiet polarised. While the advertising community may applaud it for its edgy-ness, I am not sure if the junta will appreciate such a dark story," says Mahajan.

Jayaram adds that a brand should speak in the same tone and manner in every piece of communication in a single campaign. Here, one TVC is on a lighter vein and the other is quite 'sad', which may confuse viewers.

Contradicting these views, Naresh Gupta, director, strategy and planning, Dentsu Marcom finds the insight on wastage in the hangman campaign quite interesting. "Wastage is evil and you can do your bit by saving. This is a very compelling argument. The TVC is fairly engaging and captures attention," he adds.

However, he fears that in these times, when conservation seems to be becoming an overriding theme in many brands' propositions, the ad may suffer from 'haven't I heard this before' kind of syndrome.

Although Gupta finds the Shock Laga ad entertaining as well, he believes that the brand needs some new stories. "In its current form, it may not be as hair raising as the earlier commercial," he opines.

Hoping for the best

No matter what the industry has to say, the client is happy with the way the ad has turned out to be and hopes it will stand out. Vijay Narayan, vice-president, marketing and communication, Havells India feels that when it comes to wires, cables and switches, consumers are not very concerned and informed and thereby, go by the choice of the electricians.

"Our challenge is to change the consumer mindset and make them ask for the brand the next time they visit an electrical shop. Earlier, Havells has managed to overcome this challenge through powerful communication. This time, too, I hope the same."

While talking about what he liked the most about the present campaign, Narayan says, "The most interesting part is that here, every piece of communication has a unique tone and a distinct way of execution. If the hangman ad has a serious overtone, the sequel of the Shock Laga ad has an amazing sense of humour. The yet to be released ads, too, have a comical essence and a sentimental twist unique to them."

While talking to afaqs!, Narayan shares that in the current fiscal (ending in March), Havells had a total marketing spend of Rs 70 crore. Of this, Rs 50 crore went into advertising initiatives. Furthermore, 95 per cent of its ad spends has been directed solely towards cricket. Narayan plans to repeat the same figures this year as well, unless some urgency crops up.

Giving further details on the brand's cricket fixation, Narayan explains, "We associate ourselves with the game because cricket gives us eyeballs. Another advantage of associating with big events like cricket matches is that these help to build the perception that we are a big brand."

For the record, Narayan claims that Havells India currently has approximately 20-22 per cent market share in MCBs; 17-18 per cent in wires, 16-17 per cent in fans; and 14 per cent in CFLs.

First Published : March 18, 2010

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