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Tata Docomo: Keeping it simple

By Ashwini Gangal , afaqs!, Mumbai | In Advertising | April 15, 2011
The brand's latest ad campaign titled 'Keep It Simple, Silly'; aims to propose 'simplicity in telecom' as the latest value proposition for the consumers.

Buzzy brand Tata Docomo -- Tata Teleservices' telecom service on the GSM platform -- has rolled out a new ad campaign that features recently appointed brand ambassador, Bollywood actor Ranbir Kapoor. The campaign has been crafted by the brand's agency of record, DraftFCB Ulka.

Launched on April 8, the campaign is titled 'Keep It Simple, Silly'. The campaign will be very visible all through the IPL (Indian Premier League). Kapoor will be seen driving home the brand's new message till the end of May.

As the name suggests, the campaign is focussed on conveying how Tata Docomo simplifies the telecom experience for consumers by providing differentiated products and services. Thus, though no new product is being launched at the moment, through the next three months, this new campaign will be an extensive effort to put forth a new value proposition, namely, simplicity.

The execution is in the form of a stand-up comedy show in which Kapoor plays the comedian. Each individual advertisement starts by illustrating a particular complexity in the telecom category (such as automatic activation of unwanted services and billing errors, amongst others). Towards the end, the Tata Docomo product and/or service is then portrayed as a means of simplifying things.

The insight used is that our daily experiences with life and with our mobile phones are complicated, and we already have lots of things to worry about. Given this, the brand offers to keep the telecom part of people's lives simple by providing simple offerings related to bills, products, services and tariff options.

Client Speak

On what sparked off the idea of rolling out communication with simplicity at its core, Gurinder Singh Sandhu, head, corporate marketing, Tata Teleservices tells afaqs! that the brand started its journey with a simple tariff - pay per second - which removed several complications from the category. The journey continued with products such as daily plans, pay-per-site, customer care initiatives and bill guarantee offerings. "However," he says, "We realized that the customer was still far from feeling liberated in a wire-free environment as he/she has to find the 'best plan', 'spot the catch' and 'inspect the bill'. Basically the customer felt like he/she should stay on guard." Thus, Singh continues, it was important for the team to capture this feeling of impatience with needless complexity in the telecom category and launch a campaign that presents a host of products and services that showcase the brand's effort to make mobility simple and affordable.

Multiple executions of this ad will be seen during the course of this year's IPL matches; in all, there are about 40 such television commercials. The creative team on this campaign includes K S Chakravarthy (Chax), national creative director, and Vasudha Misra, creative director, DraftFCB Ulka. Stand-up comedian Sanjay Rajoura provided inputs regarding the comic timing for the ads.

Chax tells afaqs!, "For this campaign, the challenge was to feature a star (Kapoor) and not make him the 'endorser'. Basically, we didn't want to subsume the brand to his persona." He adds that now with MNP (mobile number portability) in the picture, the TG (target group) has grown to expand beyond mere youngsters. "Now, the TG includes older individuals as well," Chax continues.

Besides television, the media mix includes print campaigns, outdoor innovations and retail front displays.

Does The New Proposition Work?

Advertising professionals seem to like the broad idea, but have stumbled upon finer aspects that prevent them from loving the campaign. afaqs! received a couple of contrasting views.

Emmanuel Upputuru, national creative director, Publicis Capital, likes the ads. Regarding the execution, he feels that it breaks clutter for sure. "The device used, that is, the whole stand-up comedy act, is a fresh one. It is very different from the usual telecom ads seen on television."

Upputuru adds that previous Docomo ads bore a strong resemblance to Vodafone ads and that this particular campaign is refreshing. "Earlier, Docomo ads were a lot like Vodafone's -- both used the 'analogy route' where the metaphor that played out through the ad was explained towards its end. The Ranbir Kapoor campaign breaks away from that format -- that is a good thing."

As much as Upputuru likes the execution, he doesn't believe that the value proposition of simplicity will work. "Though the execution stands out and breaks clutter, I don't think users will buy into this proposition," he says.

Satbir Singh, chief creative officer and managing partner, Euro RSCG India disagrees and expresses an opinion that is exactly the opposite. While giving a thumbs-up to the brand proposition of simplicity and the concept of the campaign, he gives a thumbs-down to the rest of it.

"The ads are certainly not funny," he asserts, "The concept is very good and it starts off really well, but falls flat somewhere down the line." He adds that the laughter in the background seems canned and sort of artificial.

Singh opines that the proposition of simplicity definitely comes through in the ads, which is why the message will come through successfully. "Also, this stand-up comedy idea is not something you usually see, so it breaks clutter. Besides, since they haven't muddled too many messages all at once, the main message will be received by viewers," he reasons.

Wishing the ads were funnier, given that they're supposed to depict a stand-up comedy act, he concludes generously, "The shooting is good and Kapoor looks nice; visibility will be good, too, since the ads are being aired during the IPL matches. So the ads won't be missed."

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