Usha Striker: Dramatising the cooling effect

By Rohit Nautiyal , afaqs!, New Delhi | In Advertising | September 09, 2010
When Pyarelal Ji Halwayi is asked why the 'samosas' he makes turn cold instantly, he responds innocently, "Ache karmo ka prasad hai" (a result of good deeds). The truth is beyond one's wildest guess

Though Usha International launched the ceiling fan, Usha Striker early last year, it recently felt the need to come up with a TV campaign. The objective of the campaign is to position the product as a major sub-brand in ceiling fans, with the proposition of 'superfast cooling'.

The film opens in a sweet shop, located on the banks of a river. A priest walks in, asking for alms from the cook who is frying 'samosas'. With the help of a ladle, the cook lifts one out of the huge frying pan and puts it in the priest's bowl. The priest takes a bite and is surprised at how soon the 'samosa', just out of the frying pan, has turned cold. Shouting 'Chamatkar' (miracle) repeatedly, the priest, still holding the 'samosa', runs through the by-lanes of the city, attracting the onlookers' attention.

The story of the 'samosa' spreads like wildfire and soon reaches the media, which flocks to the shop where the now popular 'cold samosa' was discovered. When the cook, Pyarelal Ji Halwayi is asked why his 'samosas' turn cold so soon, he responds innocently, "Ache karmo ka prasad hai" (The result of good deeds). It is then that the overhead fan, Usha Striker, comes into view.

Interestingly, the TVC has been conceptualized by the in-house team at Usha, in association with Shiven Surendranath of Old School Films, who has penned and directed the film.

Discussing the brief, Surendranath says, "The client wanted us to do something which is both funny and cutting-edge."

Benaras was zeroed on as the setting for the film; and to do proper research, the team arrived at the location well in advance, clicking lots of pictures to decide on various angles and lighting. Another motive was to capture Benaras in a fashion totally different from what is popularly seen in films and photographs. While the 'ghats' (river banks) of Benaras are stock imagery in cinema, there has been hardly an attempt to penetrate deeper into the by-lanes of the city. That is what the film attempts to capture.

Extensive casting was done, wherein a real-life sweeper, body builders and a rickshaw puller were roped in. "Though we arrived in Benaras in June to beat the monsoon, it rained on the day of the shoot," shares Surendranath on a lighter note.

The shoot was wrapped up in two days.

Speaking on the ad, Chhaya Shriram, director, Usha International, says, "Given the immensely crowded TV advertising scenario, when we considered making the film, we felt strongly that quirky humour was the way to make an outstanding statement -- which would also have a positive rub-off effect on the Usha brand in general."

In addition, the company regularly conducts below-the-line promotions, such as dealer and salesman schemes, as well as schemes for modern retail. In addition, a lot of POS and in-shop branding is used along with outdoor.

Usha International has ceiling fans in five categories: Lifestyle Segment, Traditional Decorative, Standard Non Decorative, Economy and Super Economy. Usha Striker is in the third category.

According to industry estimates, currently, the size of the electric fan market in the organised sector is expected to be around 34 million fans. Usha lays claim to 18 per cent of this. Also, the organised sector is growing at 30 per cent per annum in India.

While Usha's strong markets in India include Orissa, Bihar, Assam, Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Kerala and Tamil Nadu; some of its key international markets are Iraq, Yemen, Oman, Bahrain, Tanzania, Nigeria, maldives, Ethopia, Kuwait, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Egypt, Ghana, Sudan and Qatar.

Cool Enough?

With mixed feelings, Titus Upputuru, executive creative director, Saatchi & Saatchi says, "It's an attempt at humour, storytelling or maybe intrigue. I am not quite sure if the intent was met. Not quite sure if this can be a game-changer in the category, as in the past, we have seen commercials which demonstrate the power of a fan -- things flying; dogs flying; dogs with dots..."

Jitender Dabas, executive planning director and vice-president, JWT feels that creative exaggeration of a functional attribute is not new in the durables category - air-conditioners, refrigerators and now fans have used it.

"It is for sure creatively disruptive, because one is kept engaged for 55 seconds; and left wondering what is coming next and what product it's talking about," he adds.

He says further, "I see the maker indulging the viewers with beautiful shots of Benaras, but I couldn't really spot the insight. My understanding is that ceiling fans would fall under a 'considered' purchase for most people. So, I would love to know if this humorous exaggeration will be able to persuade the kind of target consumers who buy Usha fans."

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