Meet Airtel's outlandish list of 'Zaroori' friends

By Ashwini Gangal , afaqs!, Mumbai | In Advertising | January 23, 2012
Taking the 'Har Ek Friend Zaroori Hota Hai' brand thought forward, Airtel has launched a series of ad films that introduce its consumers to various quirky characters that embody different types of friends.

When Airtel launched its 'Har Ek Friend Zaroori Hota Hai' commercial, everyone sang along. Besides entertaining one and all with its catchy jingle, the ad served to position Airtel as a brand that stands for friendship, and helps one to stay in touch with all kinds of friends. Now, taking the same thought forward, the brand has rolled out a series of ad films introducing consumers to humorous characters that represent different types of friends.

These include bhukkad friend, tubelight friend, chipkoo friend, kanjoos friend, status update friend, beep friend, dhinchak friend, vasooli friend, sharing friend, activist friend, LOL friend, fan friend, party friend, lazy friend, filmy friend, pakau friend, subtitle friend, proxy friend, curious friend, music friend, and despo friend.

Agnello Dias and Santosh Padhi

In all, there are more than 20 ad films, and currently, all are visible on the digital space on A few are being aired on TV, as well. Apparently, the original plan was to publish these films mainly as digital content for the brand, as that's where most of Airtel's target audience -- the youth -- is present.

Interestingly, these videos were crowd sourced they were inspired by interesting 'friend types' or tags created by the consumers on Facebook, during an outreach programme initiated by Airtel earlier. Commenting on this, Bharat Bambawale, director, global brand, Bharti Airtel, says, "Given the theme itself, focusing on the discerning online audience was a natural choice for us. With this in mind, Airtel earlier launched an online campaign that encouraged everyone to create unique friend types on Facebook."

This effort received 65,000 entries in a span of days. The brand then selected the most interesting friend tags and utilised the insights to create the new films.

Commenting on how these ads serve to take the original 'Har Ek Friend' thought forward, Santosh Padhi (aka Paddy), chief creative officer and co-founder, Taproot India, tells afaqs! that the series is an extension of the thematic brand campaign that the agency crafted for Airtel last year.

"Whatever the brand does now on the communication front will be positioned under this broad umbrella of 'Har Ek Friend', he says. Padhi goes on to explain how the current set of films is the first leg of the extension of this umbrella thought.

The different friends that Airtel introduces through this series are all funny and outlandish in their own ways. Is humour an inseparable part of the 'Har Ek Friend' thought?

Agnello Dias (aka Aggie), co-founder and chief creative officer, Taproot India, answers, "No, the positioning is certainly not married to humour. If you consider the original 'Har Ek Friend' ad, not all situations shown are hinged on humour; many were emotional such as the part where someone is being taken to the hospital by his friend."

According to him, humour was used in this series due to the very nature of the ads, and the need to generate stickiness. Does this mean we will we see more serious renditions of the same idea in the future? Dias says, "Yes, it's a wide idea encompassing all emotions. Future campaigns may press various other emotional buttons, not just humour."

Har ek ad zaroori hai?

Minakshi Achan

afaqs! asks creative and planning professionals what they made of the series. The response is very favourable.

In the opinion of Minakshi Achan, co-founder, Salt Brand Solutions, the current ads take the idea forward in a delightful manner. "They do justice to the idea of everyone having and needing different types of friends. This was the natural way forward, and they have done a hilarious job," she says.

Judging the creativity quotient of the series, Achan adds, "The idea has legs and these films demonstrate that well. The ads are meant to connect with the youth and they do just that. I would love to see what they do next with the idea."

For Jasravee Kaur Chandra, head, planning, FMCG, Rediffusion-Y&R, it is the 'queer-quotient' of the characters depicted that works. "The ads remind you of the queerness of not just your friends but even yourself, and how that queerness (say, being 'kanjoos', abusive or 'dhinchak') is not just accepted, but celebrated when we are with our friends," she elaborates.

She goes on to opine that it was Airtel's unpretentious and inclusive take on friendship that worked in the original film, and that this series successfully takes the thought forward.

On the execution of the ads, Chandra says, "The execution has a two-fold appeal - the humour, and the way it has been shot (like a home video on a camcorder), as both lend a raw, spontaneous feel to the campaign that today's youth identifies with."

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