Drop your suits, sing and dance

By Biprorshee Das , afaqs!, Mumbai | In Advertising | September 27, 2010
The 'BlackBerry Boys' are the new craze in town; Vodafone's new BlackBerry campaign says the smart phone no longer belongs to only the corporate honchos

Whether Research In Motion (RIM) puts the Indian government's security concerns to rest or not, one cannot deny that the BlackBerry phone user base has widened steadily in recent times and that the average age of the user has only got younger.

The 'smart' phone, if you will, has moved beyond being just a device for a hotshot executive to check e-mails on the go. It has moved beyond being only a business phone. Controversy or not, the BlackBerry Messenger or BBM is one of the more hep concepts with the youth and 'Give me your BB PIN' is common usage.

All in all, move over corporate honchos - the bubbly young have staked a claim in the fun BlackBerry space as well. Vodafone Essar's new campaign for BlackBerry is recognising this very trend and conveys the message in a simple yet cheeky manner with 'BlackBerry Boys'.

Having created quite a buzz already, the television commercial, designed by Vodafone's long trusted creative partner Ogilvy India, passes the message very figuratively.

The film begins with five men dressed in formal attire - singing about how special they are, being BlackBerry users or 'the BlackBerry Boys'. The group, much to its chagrin, is gradually joined by a whole bunch of youngsters singing the same song, saying how they all do the same fun thing and stay connected socially while they are on the move.

Besides the implied message, the campaign pushes Vodafone's BlackBerry service plans for its prepaid customers in India at pocket friendly prices.

The creative team at Ogilvy includes creative directors Rajesh Mani and Mehul Patil. The TVC has been directed by Prakash Varma of Nirvana Films.

Talking about the campaign, Rajiv Rao, national creative director, Ogilvy India, tells afaqs!, "I remember the look on the faces of the top executives in suits, sitting in business class age, having to share their seat with a young guy like me in a crumpled T-shirt and torn jeans. It was this feeling that was very similar to the BlackBerry phenomenon a few years ago - when getting a BB was like a big perk in the organisation."

"Today, besides the top executives, a lot of youngsters are using BlackBerry for various reasons. Inspired by this insight, we thought - how about getting these typical BB users singing a song about BB and themselves - and then letting a bunch of youngsters completely take over what was meant to be their stage, since they are the new users," Rao adds

The lyrics to the song, says Rao, had to be simple enough to look like one that is made by the same men in suits.

Vodafone's brief to the agency was to expand the usage of the BlackBerry beyond the traditional post-paid corporate segment. With the pre-paid offering, youngsters have the option to control their expenses on the service and experience the suite of offerings.

Anuradha Aggarwal, vice-president, brand communications and insights, Vodafone India, says, "We noticed that BlackBerry had become an aspirational phone with the youth and we wanted to make Vodafone the preferred service provider. The objective was to be different. To be different with a simple message can be challenging, too."

The television campaign will be supported by print and outdoor promotions.

The boys' speak...

The campaign has evoked mixed responses from the advertising fraternity, while the light hearted nature of the film has been much appreciated.

Satbir Singh, chief creative officer, Euro RSCG India observes that the BlackBerry had become "very straight-jacketed for the stuffy" kind of a phone.

"BlackBerry had become for the guy who replied on Lotus Notes at ungodly hours. In reality, the number of people who ask you for your PIN has been rising steadily. BBM is the lifeblood for scores of gossipy young things," notes Singh.

He says that the commercial changes the perception in a delightful way.

"Indeed, I love the light hearted 'boys' bit. It's catching on as a forward on social media. What else do you need," Singh says.

Prasanna Sankhe, national creative director, Publicis Ambience, a self-confessed BlackBerry hater, is not impressed by the new positioning of the BlackBerry.

"People like the efficiency of the BlackBerry and in some way, in the corner of their hearts, desire to project themselves as a part of this corporate BlackBerry world. I don't know how prudent it is to erode that strength," Sankhe says.

Having said that, Sankhe likes the 'feel good' factor and music of the commercial - as one has begun to expect of the Vodafone communications. According to him, given the nature of the client, a bigger creative leap with a relevant insight could have been possible.

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