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ITC Classmate: 'Un-clone' your child

By Ashwini Gangal , afaqs!, Mumbai | In Advertising | June 29, 2012
In its latest spate of TVCs, ITC Classmate urges children to nurture their individuality.

ITC Classmate

ITC Classmate Education & Stationery has rolled out its new ad campaign. Titled 'Because you are one of a kind', the campaign encourages children to nurture their uniqueness instead of being 'the next somebody'.

The campaign is targeted at school children as well as their key influencers, namely, their parents and teachers. Currently, one theme film (60 seconds) and three product-led films (25 and 20 seconds) are on air.

The campaign is being supported by digital and social media marketing; consumer activation and school connect programmes; and print ads.

Karan Kumar

N Padmakumar

It is interesting to note how the current campaign is a far cry from the previous one that was released late last year. While the earlier films address functional, product-led benefits such as water resistant pens that offer smooth and fast writing, the recent one addresses higher order needs such as kids' need to be unique. Moreover, even the execution has changed remarkably. While the previous films hinged on humour, the current ones have taken an emotion-laden route.

Addressing this shift, Karan Kumar, marketing manager, ITC Education & Stationery Business, says, "As a brand we have always believed in the individual genius of children; recall our 'Be all that you can' campaign almost three years ago, or more recently, the 'Big ideas in you' campaign. The current 'Be the first' campaign is a step along the same continuum."

However, stationery is a utilitarian product offering and as a category it is not something one would readily associate much emotion with. What prompted the agency to take this path? N Padmakumar (aka Paddy), national creative director, Rediffusion-Y&R tells afaqs! that while the objective of the communication, from a marketing strategy perspective, is to unify all the stationery products (notebooks, pens, art products) under one brand umbrella, from an advertising point of view, the aim is to transcend existing category norms.

Paddy explains that the idea of showing a child use a particular brand of stationery and consequently excel in academics has become a near-generic proposition in this category. "We wanted Classmate to have a larger agenda, he says. "After all, stationery is the first set of instruments a child uses to express him/herself." Playing on pre-exam anxiety and scaring children into a purchase was a formula the team deliberately stayed away from.


Rajesh Sharma, head, planning, Mudra South finds the insight quite relevant. "A lot of times marketers don't give kids their due. We tend to think of them as young people who can't appreciate 'mature' wisdom. Kids today are different and the communication acknowledges this," he elaborates.

Sandhya Srinivasan

Cajetan Vaz

In today's competitive times, the race to excel starts very early, often in school. Does the insight come across as an effort to be in line with the times? "I don't think the ad is about being competitive. Competition is generally against a rival. There are no rivals here. It's just about establishing one's own unique identity," Sharma answers.

In his opinion, the very fact that the category is not typically associated with much emotion gives this communication meaning and makes it disruptive. He explains, "Most products are utilitarian in nature. Emotions are put in to create more meaning for the product or service."

According to Sandhya Srinivasan, managing partner and chief strategy officer, Law & Kenneth, the brand/theme film explains the concept better than the other films. "Rising beyond the usual suspects who define success, to look at oneself as an achiever, is a confident take," she states, adding, "Brands selling school stationery can be lost somewhere. By moving back into the school fold, it has made the story real -- a welcome change from the earlier version," she sums up.

Lending a category perspective on the campaign, independent brand consultant Cajetan Vaz reminds us that this is not the first brand to take such a route. "Other stationery brands like Reynolds, Nataraj and Apsara have used emotion very effectively in the past, so this is not a first. I don't think this campaign is one that will shake the category or bring about a shift in its evolution. It is a refreshing take with a good measure of irreverence, which will appeal effectively to both, parents and children."

Going on to analyse this particular campaign, Vaz opines that while the campaign is well-scripted, the audio copy could've been better.

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