HCL: From provider to partner

By Ashwini Gangal , afaqs!, Mumbai | In Advertising | July 23, 2012
Through its new brand campaign, HCL has been positioned as an innovative IT solutions partner.

After a brief hiatus, global technology and IT enterprise HCL has launched a new corporate multimedia advertising campaign. Following a quick teaser film, the new TVC that has been launched brings about a strategic shift in the brand positioning from 'a regular IT services provider' to 'an innovative IT solutions partner'. The brand's core value proposition, 'Technology That Touches Lives' has, however, been retained.

The 'conceptual campaign', as Draftfcb Ulka calls it, aims to position HCL as an innovative, out-of-the-box technology solutions organisation.

The film features the familiar characters 'Mr. HCL' -- the brand advocate through whom HCL's product benefits are usually demonstrated -- and 'Mr. Banker' - a character that represents the HCL customer, who becomes the primary beneficiary in the communication.

Saurav Adhikari, president, corporate strategy, HCL, says, "While we still retain our core brand proposition of creating solutions that impact lives, the new campaign highlights the 'HCL way of thinking', namely, instantaneous and resourceful." This is a shift from the previous campaigns that were primarily about sharing information about the brand's technological expertise.

Shiveshwar Singh

HCL had launched its first television brand campaign in 2007. At the time, the tagline 'Technology that touches lives' was used. The brand was positioned as an IT and tech conglomerate. Over the years, the two characters 'Mr. HCL' and 'Mr. Banker' have been featured in several ad films for the brand. Through their relationship, the brand has been conveying that it handles customer relationships in a humane and empathetic manner.

From a communication perspective, through this current campaign, HCL has transitioned from 'the who' - that is, giving consumers information about the company and conveying the scale of the company's business, to 'the how' - that is, explaining how things are done at HCL. Therefore, keeping this shift in mind, the ad paints HCL as a company that understands the needs of its customers and solves them with smart, effective solutions, as portrayed (albeit figuratively) in the ad.

Shiveshwar Singh, group creative director, Draftfcb Ulka, explains, "The need was to take the brand to the next level and position HCL as a technology partner that continues to impact us at every stage in our lives. It was critical to communicate this in a manner that did not dilute the mindshare of the previous campaigns. This made us retain the two central characters, while giving the theme a cerebral twist."

Does the shift work?

Jitender Dabas

Satbir Singh

According to Jitender Dabas, executive vice-president and head, planning, McCann Erickson, 'Mr. HCL' is an advertising property that the brand has not leveraged optimally. "The character is well established and they could've pushed the envelope much more here to demonstrate 'innovation'," he says.

"The example used to deliver the message (here Dabas refers to the part where 'Mr. HCL' starts a life-saving fire using gadgets) also falls short of showing 'innovation'; it shows more of 'ingenuity' and 'cleverness' than 'innovation'," he adds.

Dabas prefers the previous campaigns, particularly the ones in which the character of 'Mr. HCL' was created. "I thought that was quite a smart and effortless way of personifying a service brand," he reasons.

Also, he is unsure whether consumers will grasp the intended strategic step-up (from 'an IT services provider' to 'an innovative IT solutions partner') because the presence of a strong familiar character across the campaign, over the years, tends to put pressure on the storytelling front, especially while trying to say something different.

Satbir Singh, managing partner and chief creative officer, Euro RSCG India, quips interrogatively, "The investment banker is everyone's favourite whipping boy, eh?"

If one were to view this ad and tick-mark a checklist of all the things HCL is involved in, says Singh, the mission is accomplished.

However, he goes on to add that the campaign, quite ironically, serves to reinforce the previous positioning more than the new one. "It strengthens the 'IT services provider' part more and seems to add 'in all walks of life.' The 'innovative' part is rather muted," he says.

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