In a move to announce the launch of the upgraded versions of the Linea and the Punto, Fiat India has released a new television commercial. Shot entirely underwater, the film shows how the two cars are assembled against all odds in a challenging environment.
The underwater rendition has a multi-fold purpose. Firstly, it is a literal as well as figurative manifestation of the brand's ability to dive deep into core consumer wants and needs. So, which consumer insight is the ad referring to here?
Sartaj Jaffri, branch head, Saints & Warriors, the agency that has created this campaign, tells afaqs!, "The film portrays how the brand goes into the depths of consumer feedback and consequently, understands that consumers want user-friendly cars."
Additionally, it conveys the availability of the two cars in a new colour -- oceanic blue.
Shot at the Yak Marine Institute at Karjat, the film involved submerging dismantled car parts, which were then filmed by scuba divers with underwater cameras. Post-submersion, the movements of the parts were controlled by strings to make them appear like they are floating towards the chassis. The different shots were eventually enhanced with computer graphics.
Images of marine life (such as sharks) were artificially created. It took the authorities three days to shoot the film. The last shot -- that of the complete cars with all parts intact -- was shot above water but was made to appear like it was shot underwater. The post-production work was done in Germany.
The most difficult part of the shoot, it is learnt, was for the DoP (director of photography) to get into scuba gear and spend extended sessions underwater, managing camera positions while simultaneously interacting with the director, who monitored the shots from the sidelines. Hydrophones allowed for one-way communication from above ground to underwater, while the divers needed to communicate with hand gestures on camera.
A blue screen was submerged around the walls of the pool to lend a deep sea look. The path of the sun needed to be studied so as to allow for optimum light underwater. Artificial lighting was also used.
The current film is the first of a series and is supported by print, outdoor and digital communication.
The agency claims that the film was a deliberate attempt to move away from the 'real' space exploited by most auto advertising, and deviate in creative execution to occupy the 'surreal' space. But, is the attempt a success?
"Like all Indian car advertising, this one, too, is a rational, 'check-list' commercial," Jose critiques, adding, "It's a little filmy -- like a Hollywood trailer." This needn't work against the brand as Indians appreciate over-the-top execution, he reasons.
Strictly from an execution perspective, Jose admits that the film leaves one wanting more. It makes him bring up similar international films, including the Honda 'Cog' ad and the Ariston Washing Machine underwater commercial. "In this day and agethere's no reason why Indian advertising can't match up to the West (budgets notwithstanding)," he argues.
K V Sridhar (aka Pops), national creative director, Leo Burnett, says that the ad is the kind which leaves viewers disappointed and confused as it doesn't demonstrate anything concrete. While he understands the intention, he feels the analogy is weak and insists that the metaphor used fails to connect.
"The ad is distinctive and manages to grab attention, but there is no real connection. Relevance is low and the ad fails to exhibit the understanding of the consumer. The consumer insight used is ambiguous," he says. According to Pops, the insight that the brand attempts to exploit in the ad has nothing to do with a car being assembled underwater.