Samsung Hero Music: Class disconnect?

By Ashwini Gangal , afaqs!, Mumbai | In Advertising | December 27, 2011
afaqs! analyses the latest Samsung Hero Music ad featuring brand ambassador Aamir Khan.

Taking the Aamir Khan series of ads forward, Samsung has released yet another film for the Samsung Hero offering. Centred on 'Bluetooth Wala Samsung Hero Music' -- to quote the male VO (voiceover) -- the ad features Khan, who plays himself.

Set in a classy-looking train compartment, the ad shows Khan cheering up a sad, but pretty stranger by sending her songs via Samsung Hero Music, using the Bluetooth facility. The ad ends with the VO saying 'Share karo, khushi baanto'.

While we're all for sharing music and spreading joy, one viewing of the ad is sufficient to spot the class discrepancy between the Palace On Wheels-kind-of-a-train setting, and a basic, entry-level phone.

A senior creative authority at Leo Burnett, the agency that has worked on this ad, claims that aspiration has nothing to do with reality, and aesthetics is nobody's property. afaqs! finds out whether other creative opinions are in sync with this view.

Admen call it 'creative license'

In the name of creative license, the creative folk are forgiving enough.

According to Brijesh Jacob, managing partner, White Canvas, to show a premium-looking train, despite the kind of product being advertised, is something one mustn't read too much into, as it is all part of basic film production to show nice-looking backgrounds in ads. "To show a royal-looking train is taking creative liberty," he reasons.

However, he has a different bone to pick with the makers of the commercial: On the cusp of 2012, is music-sharing via Bluetooth the only feature a phone can talk about? Even for a simple phone, that's probably not advanced enough a feature upon which to focus an entire piece of communication! These questions and considerations mar Jacob's overall view of the advertisement.

"Music has a lot of parity today, with most phones offering music options and FM channels. Recall how Spice Mobiles came up with a projector phone called Spice Popkorn? That's the kind of thing one should advertise. Cameras, MP3, and radio are things everyone wants in a phone, anyway," says Jacob.

Nilesh Vaidya, executive creative director, Network Advertising, is also lenient with the discrepancy shown between the environment in the ad and the product class. "A bit of creative license is absolutely okay," he offers, adding that it is alright to try and lend an up-market feel to the image of a brand. "Even if someone gets the wrong idea that it's an expensive phone on viewing the ad, they'll be pleasantly surprised when they go to buy it," he argues, insisting that there's nothing wrong with pitching high.

The ad reminds Vaidya of the Tata Sky ad featuring Khan and Gul Panag, in which Khan, in a bid to show some important product features, plays a manipulative husband who stages his efforts to help with housework.

"The kind of house that was shown in that series looked as if it had a fleet of servants; there was no question of the couple doing the chores, anyway! But, it's all about making watchable ads. In this case, too, while there is a bit of disconnect between the background and the brand, why show the actual grit-and-grime of a second class local train?" questions Vaidya.

Being watchable clearly wins over being realistic in the world of advertising!

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