Breaking language barriers with this Idea

By Biprorshee Das , afaqs!, Mumbai | In Advertising | September 08, 2010
Idea Cellular launches its new campaign, continuing its trend of ideas to tackle larger issues; this time, the brand talks of how conversations over the phone can bridge gaps built by different languages spoken in the country

One could well think of Idea Cellular as being more than just a provider of mobile services. Here is a brand that takes its name a bit too literally - coming up with a new 'idea' to tackle serious issues each time in its communication campaign.

Following the successful campaign championing the saving of paper, the recent one talks of how the barriers created by the plethora of languages spoken in India could be broken by the mobile phone.

Talking about the new campaign, Anupama Ahluwalia, senior vice-president, Idea Cellular, says, "India is a land of a billion people talking in 22 recognised languages, 850 mother tongues and 22,000 dialects; it is also a land of opportunities for the young Indians who are ambitious go-getters and have dreams. However, this diversity and vastness, at times, poses a hurdle in the growth of the youth of this country. Taking note of this growing concern of the multi-lingual Indian society, Idea set out to demonstrate how a simple solution can build bridges between people speaking different languages."

The television commercial by Lowe Lintas shows four friends who hail from Kerala, Haryana, Maharashtra and West Bengal, being posted in non-native regions. Faced by the problems of an alien language, they are offered a simple solution by a tea vendor - played by brand ambassador Abhishek Bachchan.

He suggests that they speak to each other over the phone, asking for help with the language that they are not familiar with.

Soon, the Haryana lad gets his way out of an angry mob in Maharashtra with his Marathi friend helping him; while the Bengali woman seeks help from her Malayali friend to find accommodation; and the Marathi finds space in a crowded bus with the help of his Bengali friend; while the Malayali breaks ice similarly in Haryana. All of this happens over phone conversations.

The film ends with the revelation that the tea vendor is actually dumb and the message that one does not really need a language to connect with another.

The ad aims at offering a simple solution to many Indians who move out of their homes for career, education, travel and other prospects in life; or need to communicate with people talking different languages in their own surroundings. It aims to help them to adapt to the change in surroundings and connect better with people speaking other languages.

The core message is "Bolne ke liye bhasha zaruri nahi hoti", and highlights the fact that the language barrier can be broken with a simple Idea!

"The topic is current, relevant and appeals to the youth - who are most affected by the language barrier. The message is conveyed in a subtle manner, with a flavour of humour as well as poignancy. The creative has a contemporary feel to it - making it appealing to the youth," says Ahluwalia.

Talking to afaqs!, R Balakrishnan (Balki), chairperson and chief creative officer, Lowe Lintas, says that the aim has always been to provide better ideas.

"From the very beginning, we knew that the brand must not have a constant idea but newer ones every time. We are trying to show how telecom can solve many problems," he says

"It is not a cause. We are not saying that this is the only possible way. Some of the ideas could be practical - some not. However, you can make a start by solving problems like this. At the end of the day - it is advertising. Things are shown in a lighter vein and one must have a sense of humour," Balki adds.

Idea has planned a 360 degree campaign around the new theme. The first phase of media plan majorly constitutes television and will also include print, outdoor and digital media. Since the primary target group is the youth, innovations in the digital space will also be emphasised.

Much like the earlier campaign, activation centred on the theme of language is also on the cards.

The media duties for the brand are handled by Mindshare.

…Could have been better, Sirji!!

With 'Sirji' becoming as popular as it already has, Idea's campaigns usually meet with approval and praise. Creative experts admit that they have always liked the brand's ideas. The latest campaign, while being appreciated for the insight, has met with its share of criticism as well.

Nilesh Vaidya, executive creative director, Euro RSCG says that Idea has managed to stand out in a cluttered category, with its communication hijacking the social good platform and making it relevant to the product.

"I have always admired Idea's advertising. While not every take resonates well, the new film works. 'In Rome, speak as the Romans do' is a relevant insight and the film is very well made, too. It is a truth we have all experienced - whether it is the jingoistic mob or the politely hostile landlady," Vaidya says.

"As a social message, though, it did not seem deep or inspiring enough. I would have liked it a lot more if Idea had shown me how to break down the barrier and not just find my way around it. But then, this is the real world and we need solutions that work. This one does," he adds.

Robby Mathew, national creative director, Interface Communications is of the view that the film does not match up to the standards already set and says that the idea in the film plays on stereotypical thought.

"I like the 'What an Idea, Sirji' concept. However, the latest one is definitely not the best idea or execution. There is too much happening in the film. The idea does not have the same quality to it as before. The execution is not particularly hot, either. There are too many stereotypes," Mathew says.

However, he does believe that the campaign idea is big enough to survive "a few poor executions".

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