Spice Mobile: Same message, different route

By Ashwini Gangal , afaqs!, Mumbai | In Advertising | November 26, 2010
The commercials aim to highlight the brand's video phone and long battery backup features, along with its new 3D phone range.

Spice Mobile, one of the three verticals of Spice Mobility, has recently rolled out three new TVCs. The advertising spends for the October-December quarter is pegged at Rs 20-25 crore.

Naveen Paul, vice-president, marketing, Spice Mobile, tells afaqs! that the films serve to take two parallel tracks ahead - one that communicates the video and battery features and the other that talks about the brand's recently launched 3D phone, View D.

"The ads that feature our video phone range are our bread and butter efforts aimed at driving volume in terms of sales; the 3D phone is more an effort to create imagery for the brand and develop a halo around it," he informs. Paul adds that while both tracks target youngsters, as "this category is driven by the youth", the 3D phone targets a more affluent, urban TG (target group), while the video phones target the mass market.

Of the three new films, the two dedicated to the brand's battery backup feature brand ambassador actor Sonam Kapoor, who was brought on board in March 2010. This is the second ad campaign featuring her.

The first film opens inside a cafe, where an engrossed Kapoor is shown viewing a film on her Spice phone. As sounds pour out of her phone, a passerby peeps into her screen and blurts out a spoiler that kills the suspense, much to her irritation. A male voiceover (VO) then says, "Pesh hai Spice video phone big battery ke sath. Ab picture dekhiye bina rukawat. Well almost."

The second film opens on a visual of Kapoor travelling at night in the sleeper coach of a train. She's the only one awake, watching a suspense movie on her Spice phone. She emits an exaggerated startled response when her phone rings - and answers it warily. The intense mood suddenly changes when the caller turns out to be a pesky telemarketer. The same male VO then lends a humorous touch to the situation.

The concept is based on the idea that in normal life, one gets interrupted while watching movies; if Spice Mobile is used for the same, the interruption will not be due to battery depletion. Paul reveals, "The insight our research threw up was that the video segment is big today; though we had presence in it, we realised that we needed to enhance our position in this segment."

The third TVC promotes the brand's new 3D handset. This one is an attempt to educate customers about how life looks different in 3D. The ad uses a 'pop-up book' as a visual device.

The film opens on the visual of a little girl. Dejected, she stands before a bookshelf. She picks and drops books one by one. This goes on for a while, until her father returns home from work. He sees the little girl sitting on the floor, surrounded by books, looking very bored and holds up a book for her. The girl looks exasperated. The father opens the book and the girl is amazed to see that it's a pop-up book. She is lost in the world created by the book, as he flips the pages open one by one.

A VO towards the end says, "The magic of 3D, now on Spice View D, India's first 3D phone." The film has been translated in five different languages to be run across all the corners of India.

The films have been crafted by Ogilvy, Gurgaon. They are conceptualised by associate creative director Pooja Trehan (art) and creative director Divya Bhatia (copy); and produced by Little Lambs Films, Mumbai. Credit for direction goes to Bauddhayan Mukherji. The media duties for the brand are with Madison.

It may be recalled that the recently launched TVC for Zen Mobile also aimed to portray the phone's long battery life and video phone features in a manner similar to the route taken by Spice Mobile. Agreeing that it is challenging to innovate in this segment, Ajay Gahlaut, executive creative director, Ogilvy Delhi tells afaqs! that the team deliberately tried a new track. "I wouldn't say it is difficult to create communication for this category; however, we have tried to convey the message differently," he says.

Gahlaut confides, "The cliché of something emerging from a flat surface was consciously avoided while ideating for the 3D phone. Rather, we used a warm, identifiable human insight."

Several more films featuring Kapoor are scheduled to hit TV screens in the year ahead.

Besides TV, the present campaign utilises print and BTL (below-the-line) avenues. The latter includes product demonstrations at the retail level. Digital communication (mainly social media) will also be rolled out shortly.

Is the campaign sugar and 'Spice' and everything nice?

In general, the ads promoting the battery life have been better received by industry professionals than the one propagating the brand's 3D phone.

Priti Nair, former managing partner, BBH India, who is now on the threshold of starting her own advertising agency, spares a few moments to talk to afaqs! about the new Spice Mobile films. "I recall all the ads, but not the brand!" she exclaims, "The brand connect is missing."

She adds that the film about the 3D phone was interesting on three fronts - casting, art and the overall look. The good ends there, unfortunately. "The connect between what he is showing the girl and the 3D feature is not very clean. The ad starts with a metaphor and ends with the brand feature and brand name; a thread is missing in the middle - between what he is showing and the point the ad is trying to make," Nair elaborates her stand.

She concludes that the ad jumps away from the 3D excitement of the phone all too quickly.

Bobby Pawar, chief creative officer, Mudra Group, thinks that the film where Kapoor is shown watching a movie in the train is fine. "It's alright," he says, "I won't say it's great or anything but it's not too bad." He feels it adequately conveys the message that one may watch movies on that phone, uninterrupted by battery problems.

However, the film where the father shows his daughter a book with pop up graphics didn't go down too well with Pawar. "If you're asking someone to view your spot, don't make them ask 'Why should I watch it?'" he complains, adding that though the pop-up bit was done as a metaphor, it failed to be interesting.

"It could have been more entertaining," he signs off.

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