Vodafone: And now, a parrot that talks 'animatedly'

By Devina Joshi , afaqs!, Mumbai | In Advertising | July 20, 2010
In a new, tactical commercial, the brand makes use of an animated talking parrot, to popularise its Rs 4 bonus card proposition for prepaid customers

Vodafone is back, sans the Zoozoos. Following the FIFA campaign, which was also without the eggshell characters, comes a tactical commercial to popularise the brand's Rs 4 bonus card offering for prepaid consumers. This time, the telecom major has made use of an animated parrot as its creative execution route. Animation is no new territory to Vodafone: back when the brand was Orange/Hutch, it had created two characters -- H and I -- as part of its advertising.

& #BANNER1 & #The commercial shows the owner of an Irani café -- an animated talking parrot, the voiceover of which has been given by actor Boman Irani -- cribbing about the fact that nothing can be purchased for a paltry Rs 4 in today's day and age. He draws various examples from real life to prove that even the silliest of things cost the high heavens; and absolutely refuses to believe that Vodafone's bonus card delivers a slew of value-adds in just Rs 4. The MVO (Male Voice Over) and Vodafone's standard tetris deliver the 'Now, believe it' kind of explanation about the myriad offerings of the low-cost bonus card.

The Zoozoos - which are used to communicate to audiences with high levels of literacy, who already understand the concept and are familiar with it - have been left out this time; as a different target group is being addressed here, for which the brand needed to be more loud than subtle.

According to Anuradha Aggarwal, vice-president, marketing communications and consumer insights, Vodafone, this is an attempt to democratise the brand's bonus products. These "low and accessible tariffs" need to be communicated to the lower income groups/masses, preferably, existing prepaid customers of Vodafone. This would include the budget conscious SEC C and D, who don't spend too much money on their service provider, and who stretch their money to the maximum limit - the kind of customers that live from recharge to recharge.

As per research by the brand, the first reaction anyone would have to such low-cost offerings would be disbelief. In the category of bonus products, generally, the fixed cost amounts to Rs 25-30.

"The prepaid customer has this sense of supreme confidence, an understanding, that a bonus card offering so much cannot possibly cost so low," says Aggarwal. It is this disbelief that transformed into the insight for the ad as well.

The talking parrot is just a device for clutter-breaking execution, according to Vodafone's agency, Ogilvy India. "We had to clearly be noisy; and a budget-conscious parrot, who is the stingy owner of an Irani café, was the route we thought would fit best," says Rajiv Rao, national creative director, Ogilvy India.

The commercial also has two edited versions playing on-air. Apart from television, outdoor, print and radio (with Irani's voiceover) would be used heavily.

The ad has been conceptualised by Rao, along with the creative team, which comprises Elizabeth Dias, Nishant Goyal, Akshat Trivedi and Saurabh Malhotra. The production house is Windmill, while Vaibhav Kumaresh has directed the ad.


The ad has generated mixed reactions in the ad fraternity.

Emmanuel Upputuru, national creative director, Publicis India, says, "Hutch, and now Vodafone, has always done what they wanted to -- from commercials that never used a word to suddenly Irfan Khan delivering dialogues, making up for all the earlier silent ads; from an iconic dog following a kid to other iconic figures, ZooZoos. And now, out of the blue, we see this parrot."

He says that he "doesn't get it", as "everything about it is done to death". By that, he refers to a talking parrot, the idea of 'this much money can't buy a samosa' and the element of animation. "The idea is not new; neither is the execution," he shrugs.

Soumitra Karnik, executive creative director, JWT, finds the ad to be fine, but not up to the standards set by Vodafone. "The ideation is correct, with all the right elements, such as the talking parrot, Boman's voiceover, a characterisation lent to the fellow… But the script has let me down by being so regular," he says.

If the brand took the pains to use animation, he says, then expectations would be a bit high, even though it is a tactical commercial. "Tactical ads featuring Irrfan Khan in the past have been more engaging. I'll say this ad is cute at best," he concludes.