afaqs!

Idea Cellular leaps into the afterlife

By Ashwini Gangal , afaqs!, Mumbai | In Advertising | April 18, 2012
Through its latest bunch of humour-laden TVCs that promote the brand's 3G smartphone apps, Idea Cellular talks about how an idea can change one's afterlife experience.

Taking its 'What an Idea, Sirji' brand thought yet another step forward, Idea Cellular has released a series of new TVCs, set with heaven as a backdrop. The ads underscore how the brand stands for newer ideas and shuns old ones, and are being aired extensively during the ongoing IPL tournament.

Idea TVC

Idea TVC

Featuring long-standing brand ambassador Abhishek Bachchan, the films are about Idea 3G smartphone's Google goggles, a mosquito repellent app, and as the male VO (voiceover) puts it - 'other heavenly apps'. Towards the end of the ads, a super with the words 'An Idea can change your afterlife' is flashed on the screen.

When asked about how the creative team zeroed in on the heaven theme, Ashwin Varkey, creative director, Lowe Lintas tells afaqs! that the starting point for the creative team was to make short ads that were conducive to the IPL ad slots. Making snappy 25-second films for Idea was difficult, shares Varkey, because in the past, the brand's ads have typically been given a lengthy, cinematic feel.

"We didn't take this heaven concept so seriously! We just wanted to have fun and wanted people to have fun, and not dissect and analyse it," he explains, when prodded on the concept of afterlife.

In all, there are 16 films (one for each app being promoted), of which about eight are currently on air.

Ashwin Varkey

These films, which are hinged entirely on humour, come close on the heels of the brand's recent TVC that takes up a socially relevant issue. Though this recent ad promotes Idea 3G smartphone's product-centric features (such as the internet, YouTube, Facebook and Twitter), it is rooted in a social cause -- something that the brand is known for.

When quizzed on the dual platforms of humour and social causes, Varkey explains that barring the exception of the aforementioned commercial that was rife with drama and seriousness, almost all of Idea's ads are pretty much laced with humour. "And, the objective of the current series is to talk about the phone's apps in the most fun way possible," he states.

Laughing with it or laughing at it?

afaqs! tries to find out whether the campaign works or whether it indeed serves to take the brand a step towards the afterlife.

Raghu Bhat, founder-director, Scarecrow Communications, says that the ads are consistent with the creative space carved out by Idea. "The features mentioned in this ad are very distinct and so is the advertising. The art direction is quite classy. The ads will get noticed," he says.

Raghu Bhat

Rajeev Raja

However, Bhat goes on to opine that though the brand is known to deploy puns once in a while, the pun in the tagline was not really necessary.

Do the ads do justice to the whole 'What an idea Sirji' concept, or is the extension a bit too forced this time? Bhat answers, "The template of a man professing admiration towards Abhishek after he has introduced an Idea feature can get creatively constricting. It doesn't have to get so literal."

Rating the ads high on their creativity quotient, Bhat says that the fact that Idea's ads have never been logical in the first place is justification for the illogical humour used in the present series. "The silver lining is that the features are truly innovative and get explained adequately, without any confusion," he adds.

Rajeev Raja, creative consultant, DDB Mudra tells afaqs! that when he first saw the ads, he didn't understand the context or relevance of why it was set in heaven. The connection between the brand and the afterlife was hard to comprehend initially, he admits.

"The concept of 'old idea versus new idea' serves to establish Idea as a forward-thinking, new age brand and that's the space it has been in," he says, adding that though he wouldn't call the current rendition of this theme the most intelligent use of humour, the stickiness is high, owing ironically to the bizarre heaven concept."So at some level it has worked," Raja muses.

He also observes that there seem to be two brand nuances being put forth of late - one being the 'social change concept' that makes the brand seem earnest, serious and transformational, and the other being the 'humour concept' that makes the brand seem fun and frivolous. "This might dilute the equity of Idea," he reasons, adding that the consistency in Bachchan's character could probably be a positive influence, given this dual scenario.

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