It also helps sell products. Hindustan Lever's Taj Mahal tea is set to prove that.
Several news items appeared last month in the national and international media indicating Ustaad Zakir Hussain plans to quit playing the tabla. Some attributed it to the Ustaad's disgust at the blatant commercialisation of music. The more imaginative ones traced his early retirement to a nagging pain in his fingers. Music connoisseurs were shocked; but a little bit of out-of-the-box thinking on the part of Hindustan Lever and its advertising agency, Hindustan Thompson Associates, Bangalore, turned this unfortunate event into an advertising opportunity.
While Zakir Hussain was busy scorching these rumours, folks at HTA and HLL were working overtime to chalk out a campaign that has given an interesting spin to the whole idea of 'Taj Mahal Challenge', simultaneously reinforcing the Ustaad's association with the Taj Mahal tea brand. For the records, Taj Mahal Tea was launched in 1966 and is today the largest premium tea brand in the country. The brand has a long-standing association with Ustaad Zakir Hussain - since 1988.
Talking about how the campaign was conceived, Dhunji Wadia, vice-president and general manager, HTA Bangalore, says, "We thought 'Let's take the bull by the horns'. And it was rapid action from then onwards. Ustaad quitting the tabla was impossible. The agency linked this to another impossibility, as we saw it: finding a tea better than Taj Mahal. These two were put together into an unprecedented challenge - The Ustaad would quit the tabla only if someone found a better tea than Taj Mahal."
Ustaad Zakir Hussain was contacted and the creative idea for The Ustaad's Ultimate Challenge was discussed. Within days he was in Mumbai, shooting under the direction of leading ad-filmmaker Kunal Kapoor. A news item was translated into a campaign in two weeks.
In the television commercial, the Ustaad is shown fielding a barrage of questions about the rumours. He puts them to rest emphatically. While doing so, he is interrupted by a reporter who asks him if he is sipping Taj Mahal Tea at the podium. The Ustaad confirms that it indeed is, and goes on to say that there is no better tea than Taj Mahal. Another reporter provokes him to swear by his statement about Taj Mahal tea being the best. Ustaad Zakir Hussain goes one step further. He shocks the gathering by issuing 'the ultimate challenge'. "Find me a better tea than Taj Mahal, and I'll stop playing the tabla."
The television commercial is supported by press advertisements and the outdoor medium - revolving around the Ustaad's Ultimate Challenge. The TV and the press ads broke on August 18. Outdoor happened simultaneously.
Wadia says the campaign has been received well. "There is a strong cut-through. Otherwise, it is a bit early to say to what extent it has worked." And he hopes, "This campaign would knock out all rumours about the Ustaad's talent and also reestablish the brand's core proposition of being India's best tea."
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