The brand is in the news again, this time for a campaign that takes its positioning 'Dil jo chaahe paas laaye' to the next level. In December last year, Airtel had made headlines with its rebranding effort, underwent several strategic changes, and launched initiatives such as the 'name the symbol' contest.
In what is the first thematic brand campaign after that effort, Airtel is now positioned as the brand that embodies friendship, and helps all sorts of friends connect with one another. The line that encapsulates this thought goes 'Har ek friend zaroori hota hai'.
Created by TapRoot India, the film has been directed by Ram Madhvani of Equinox Films, while the music has been composed by Ram Sampath.
'Friendship' as a premise has been touched upon by other players in the category previously, such as Virgin Mobiles or Tata Docomo. Airtel attempts to go beyond frivolous fun, and continues to base its new slug around what it largely stands for -- human connection.
"Perhaps what changes is the tonality slightly -- from deeply sentimental to a more vibrant one that includes the younger lot," Dias opines. "There is a difference in people admiring you, and wanting to hang out with you. That is what Brand Airtel is doing now -- going beyond the admired brand, and becoming one that the youth wants to hang out with."
The brief was to get the brand to step down from the pulpit and 'go to the back bench of the class'. Further, Dias adds that while the whole urban city, youth-ism route is a relatively easier one to take, the real challenge was to make it edgy, memorable and relevant without being the senseless 'bubblegum' variety.
Young, not frivolous
The communication, although zestful in its tonality, doesn't attempt to alienate its older generation of users, as friendship and the need for different kinds of friends is something that could perhaps be age-agnostic. "We could probably do a retirement plan pack film after this, and still use the same thought," muses Dias.
The insight used here was simple: everyone has a different set of friends at a particular time in life, and technology and mobile phones connect a person to all of them. Even the jingle, launched in the form of an anthem, was made out to be raw and edgy to bring out this thought. To add the fresh angle, composer Sampath was briefed to avoid musical instruments and make use of typical 'college setting' sounds such as desks banging, chairs thumping, clapping and cheering, or even a dustbin for producing metallic sounds. The film has been shot in Sophia College for Women, (Mumbai), Gamdevi police station, Filmcity, and other locations in Mumbai.
The commercial is being supported by outdoor, radio, press, cinema advertising, on-ground initiatives and web media. A Facebook App has also been launched, which is presently running a contest inviting people to come up with different type or categories of friends (and tag their friends there), and the most unique answers shall have the winner get himself a trip to Las Vegas, among other prizes. The application received a creation of over 8,000 'friend types' within the first four days of its launch.
The commercial is largely well-received by the ad fraternity. Says Ramanuj Shastry, chief creative officer, Saatchi & Saatchi, "Generally, if one is dealing with a vast brand such as Airtel, if one veers towards the youth, it loses the family focus, and vice-versa. But, Airtel has that risk covered as long as it continues to focus on its promise of 'bringing people closer'." Clearly, that has been captured in this communication, he feels. "Brand coherence is more important than brand consistency and Airtel scores on that front as it is coherent and relevant." The foot-tapping jingle and slice-of-life tone of voice is all a plus, Shastry adds.
Ashish Khazanchi, vice-chairperson and national creative director, Publicis Ambience, tells afaqs!, "I think Airtel finds the sweet spot after quite a while. I have a feeling a lot of advertising people will hate it, but you will see Facebook and the youth buzzing with this. Airtel goes back to being the kind of brand that it always was: inclusive, unpretentious and uncomplicated."
Khazanchi further adds that he loves some of the vignettes captured in the film, and predicts that the text/BlackBerry-happy 'tweens' are going to be sending this ad to each other a-la Friendship Day cards.