afaqs!

Riteish Deshmukh adds life to Videocon commercials

By Rohit Nautiyal , afaqs!, New Delhi | In Advertising | October 29, 2010
The new campaign is the end result of a syndicated research, which established that a majority of prepaid users are worried about running out of talk-time balance when they need it the most.

After its launch in April this year, Videocon Mobile Services (VMS), the thirteenth mobile operator in India, has come up with its second ad campaign, featuring actor Riteish Deshmukh.

Kanwarbir Singh, head -- brand and media - marketing, VMS reveals that the new campaign is the end result of a syndicated research, which established that a majority of prepaid users are worried about running out of talk-time balance in the hour of need.

"Based on this research, we have also put together hassle-free and simple tariff plans for our customers," he says.

Conceptualised by MWG TAG Ideation, five films titled 'Train', 'Suhaag Raat', 'Snoring', 'Hospital' and 'Bhoot' are on-air. Each ad shows the significance of unlimited plans for SMS, STD and local calls and internet usage.

Recreating the melodrama of a masala Hindi flick, the first film, titled Train opens on the shot of a dying old man in a last telephonic conversation with his son (Deshmukh), who is travelling in a train. The old man wants to reveal the identity of his 'son's' real father. However, before he can do that, the phone gets disconnected because the son's mobile phone has run out of talk-time balance. A hawker enters the compartment of the train, shouting, "Signal mein break, plan leke dekh". In the end, Deshmukh sees an old man sitting in a different compartment, who looks exactly like him.

The next film, Suhaag Raat shows a nervous groom on his wedding night, who is glued to his mobile phone, taking bedroom tips from his uncle. As the groom follows the directions being given by his uncle, the line gets disconnected once again because of zero balance. The groom asks the bride if she knows what happens next. She gives him a tight slap and responds, "Signal mein break, plan leke dekh".

The third film (Snoring) has a geeky Deshmukh surfing a soft porn website on his mobile phone. His half-asleep father tells him to go to bed. As the image of a topless woman is about to open on his handset screen, the indication of zero balance puts paid to his surfing.

The fourth film (Hospital) opens with an effeminate Deshmukh, waiting impatiently in the lobby of a hospital. An injured man, bandaged from head to toe, enters the scene in a wheelchair. A nurse informs Deshmukh that he has been blessed with a son. While the injured man looks confused by Deshmukh's seemingly gay appearance, the happy father begins to share the good news with all his contacts through a common SMS. Unfortunately, his phone runs out of balance.

The last film (Bhoot) portrays Deshmukh as a young Bengali who is scared to fall asleep. He calls up his mother and asks her to sing a lullaby. The mother starts humming a haunting number from Hindi film, Mahal, adding to the son's fears. Scared to death by now, the man tells his mother to sing a different song. As the mother starts with a more soothing song, the phone gets disconnected.

The company has earmarked a budget of Rs 50 crore for the campaign, which will be spread across television, print, cinema and outdoor.

"The creative challenge was to convey a simple product in an engaging manner, within the ambit of a youth-centric brand. We also wanted to break the clutter amongst the otherwise packed mobile services advertising and create a distinctive identity for VMS," says Himanshu Saxena, vice-president and general manager, MWG TAG Ideation.

He goes on to explain that the brand was looking for a face from Bollywood, but did not want anyone who was over-exposed. "We were looking for someone who had a great sense of comic timing and finally zeroed in on Riteish Deshmukh, who is not only a fantastic performer, but also has the ability to carry off a comic sequence alone. Moreover, he has a great connect with the youth, befitting the brand image of being youthful," he adds.

The Indian mobile industry added 250 million subscribers in the last three years and is expected to touch 800 million by 2015. According to industry estimates, prepaid users account for 97 per cent of the country's total mobile subscriber base.

With a subscriber base of 5 million, VMS is present in seven circles -- Punjab, Haryana, Mumbai, Tamil Nadu, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh, and Kerala.

Limited or Unlimited?

Amit Shankar, executive creative director, Grey Worldwide finds the take witty and engaging. "I really like the 'Hospital' ad. The guy wants to share an important piece of news with everyone, who would probably not expect a development like this in his life. The 'Train' film is equally good. Most of the moments captured are part of one's life; and it's interesting to see these with a pinch of humour," he says.

At the same time, he did not enjoy the 'Suhaag Raat' and the 'Bhoot' films; he feels that the situations fail to create a sense of urgency to stay connected, which is there in other films. Also, Shankar observes, that this is not the first time a brand is talking about the importance of staying connected. He cites Airtel, which did something similar with the 'Atoot Bandhan' commercial starring Shreyas Talpade.

Raghu Bhat, founder director, Scarecrow Communications, remarks, "The storylines are not bad, but they are elevated by Riteish, who is an interesting casting for the role of victim. He has good comic timing and is versatile, which leads to the campaign's sustainability."

He concludes, "Overall, it's a nice way to extend the 'pakdo life ka har signal' plank."

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