Vodafone: The return of the BlackBerry Boys

By Anushree Bhattacharyya , afaqs!, New Delhi | In Advertising | March 23, 2012
Launched first on YouTube, the recent campaign marks the return of the BlackBerry Boys, and talks about BBM, which is available on Vodafone's prepaid service for just Rs 5 per day.

Vodafone TVC

In 2010, the 'BlackBerry Boys' were introduced to the nation to convey that the smartphone was no longer a device that belonged exclusively to the executive world, and had expanded to appeal to the youth.

Launched on YouTube, the recent campaign of Vodafone marks the return of the BlackBerry Boys, this time to talk about the BlackBerry Messenger Service (BBM) available on its prepaid service for just Rs 5 per day.

Conceptualised by Ogilvy India, the television commercial shows five men in suits, talking about how they are no longer the 'BlackBerry Boys' because the youth uses BBM service for various purposes, right from sharing pictures to music and many more, which takes them beyond the world of chatting. The TVC is shot in a manner that gives the impression of a 'boy-band' music video and is backed by the song, 'They are the BlackBerry Boys'.

Anuradha Aggarwal

Rajiv Rao

Speaking to afaqs!, Anuradha Aggarwal, vice-president, brand communication and consumer insights, Vodafone India, says, "The advertisement was based on the simple insight the while youngsters want to use smartphones, they do not want to be burdened with a heavy bill at the end of every month. Therefore, we launched a proposition for them, saying that they can use BlackBerry services as it is available on Vodafone prepaid. This time, we took the story forward, with BBM as the messenger service which is a private social network by itself and we want to create a way through which youngsters can use this service, without compromising on their pockets."

"While in the first TVC, the men in suits looked surprised as they were joined by a host of new people, this time they are sad, as their world has been overtaken by youngsters," adds Aggarwal.

Rajiv Rao, national creative director, Ogilvy, explains, "The TVC highlights the BlackBerry Messenger and how it is available at a cheaper rate on prepaid services now. An extension of the old television campaign, this time the self-claimed 'BlackBerry Boys' are forced to give up their title to the youth and hence are not happy. It emphasises how they have lost their limelight and using BBM is no longer a big deal."

While the longer version of the TVC, which is about two minutes in duration, is available on YouTube, the shorter version is being aired on various television channels. The five characters are also being promoted on the brand's Facebook page and Twitter handle.

Getting it right?

For advertising professionals, the ad is an extension of the original 'BlackBerry Boys' TVC. In their opinion, while the TVC establishes the proposition clearly, it fails to create a differentiation between the old and the new one.

Nima DT Namchu

Narayan Devanathan

Nima DT Namchu, senior vice-president and executive creative director, Contract Advertising, says, "If you ignore the fact that BlackBerry may not be as cool for youngsters as it used to be, I'd say the commercial gets the message across pretty clearly. However, the sequel didn't feel as fresh as the original did. But I guess that's the thing with sequels - you have to work harder at it. I like the Boyz II Men take by the music director. But they should have worked harder on the lyrics so that they didn't have to buckle under pressure and show young people with their BlackBerry phones. They could have definitely pushed the humour/fun in the lyrics."

Narayan Devanathan, senior vice-president and national planning head, Dentsu Marcom India, remarks, "When Vodafone did the original BlackBerry Boys ad, what it showed was a nascent trend caught in its initial stages, and helped explode via its offer. The difference between the earlier BlackBerry ad and the current one is that it has an offer (Rs 5 per day), but the ad portrays the business class BlackBerry Boys handing over the baton to regular youth, a fact that is already established and in the past. It's not that the Rs 5 per day offer will lead to this transfer of status from the business class to regular youth, it has already happened. To that extent, this ad merely reflects (or, at best, celebrates) this fact."

"Like the earlier ad for the Facebook phone from Vodafone, this ad, too, seems a little self-indulgent. It does not push a nascent trend upward, nor does it empower a new set of people with something meant for a niche group earlier. Is the ad nice? Sure. Does it do something extraordinary for the brand? Not sure," adds Devanathan.

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