A phone call and Bob is set to make a killing. The fictional contract killer Bob Biswas, a character made famous by the recent thriller Kahaani, is only concerned about striking a good deal for his house in the new television commercial for online classifieds site, Quikr.
The latest campaign for Quikr created by Scarecrow Communications features the Bengali actor Saswata Chatterjee, known for his unforgettable role as Bob Biswas, the cold blooded albeit comical killer in the movie, Kahaani.
The campaign is based on the insight that sellers, especially of high value items such as cars and homes, will go to any lengths to get the best value from the sale. Bob Biswas is depicted as one such desperate seller, clearly on the brink of desperation to find a reliable tenant for his flat. An otherwise secretive Biswas stands up on the table of a crowded restaurant to strip and hence grab attention.
The TVC has been directed by Naren Multani of Equinox films.
Banking on Biswas
The TVC was unveiled after a high engagement teaser phase on social media that made use of Bob Biswas's cult status. The notorious character captivated the imagination of one and all with the cold-blooded manner in which he carried out murders. In fact, Biswas's trademark line, 'Nomoshkar...ek minute', had set social media on fire after the movie's release. Banking on this popularity, Quikr.com first launched a mysterious playlist titled 'Bob is Back!' with five short teaser videos seeded in YouTube and Facebook as several conversations began about what Bob is possibly up to, a hashtag #WhatisBobUpto was promoted on Twitter. Tweeple responded to this with all sorts of tweets ranging from 'Being Naughty at 40', 'Praying to God that Bigg Boss is renamed Big Bob' and 'Selling his gun on Quikr'!
Throwing light on the rationale behind the campaign, Raghu Bhat, founder, Scarecrow Communications says that the insight is universal. "People who have stuff to sell go to any lengths to sell it. Of course, we aren't directly saying it is Bob Biswas. We used a similar hairdo and styling and let people come to their own conclusions. But since Kahaani, there is a lot of intrigue about him. We thought - let's create a back-story about his life, and try to leverage the natural curiosity about his character. In the process, we tell a story about Quikr's value proposition as well," adds Bhat.
Bhat says that Quikr is a very nimble-footed, street smart player and this casting is in line with its personality. "The whole idea is to do something that breaks clutter, generates conversations, likeability plus share-ability and stays in people's minds for a long time."
The campaign will be extended to other platforms such as cinema, ambient, digital and activation.
The latest campaign attempts to reach out to a much wider audience, including those who are not active users of the internet. To make the entire process of listing 'quikrrr', the company has also set up a contact centre, where prospects can give a missed call to 1800-3000-1000 to post their ads.
"We are trying to target anyone who wants to buy, sell, rent and find stuff - which makes it a very wide audience. Plus, it's a pan-India audience and also includes small businessmen," articulates Bhat.
Speaking about the departure from the earlier campaign, Bhat states that the 'faster' element is inbuilt in the name Quikr. "We are merely taking the Quikr proposition one step ahead by explaining the selling process, through a disruptive methodology of 'missed call'. A missed call will help complete a transaction much quicker."
Aparna Mahesh, brand head, Quikr.com, says, "Our research showed us that for many people in India, the act of posting an ad online is daunting and perceived as time-consuming. With that in mind, we launched the Missed Call service, which is sure to open up our platform to a huge number of users who have never tried us in the past."
Many e-commerce portals have used humour as the primary ingredient for campaigns earlier. Flipkart, Jabong.com and even Quikr's most visible competition OLX.com have humour central to their ads. Bhat feels that people like humour. "I think more brands should use humour considering that's what this nation seems to like watching. Sajid Khan, Ekta Kapoor and Rohit Shetty will agree. Generally, humour may not be a bad route for low-involvement categories."
According to Sambit Mohanty, executive creative director, McCann Erickson, e-commerce sites gravitate towards humour as a device because if it clicks, the ad becomes memorable. "To some extent, the TVCs for Flipkart have succeeded in using dry wit. But, this one ends up trying too hard."
Mohanty also opines that the attempt at humour in this TVC seems forced. "If the brand really wanted a semi-celeb to drop his pants, Shane Warne would have been a far better choice!" he adds.
Mohanty also feels that Biswas, the baby-faced assassin from Kahaani, is utterly wasted in the Quikr ad. "I was hoping his homicidal hobby would be put to good use in some quirky manner but he's used simply as a salesman - and that's such a letdown," he states.
Prathap Suthan, managing partner and chief creative officer, Bang in the Middle opines that there is certainly intrigue in using Bob in the commercial. "But beyond that, I am not too sure if using the film character of Bob was exploited. There's a whole world full of dark alleys and shadows that could have been created around the character and what he could have put up for immediate sale. I don't know if there are follow ups to this, or if there are other sides to this campaign. But if this is an individual one-off, I would think that the inherent potential of the character has been insufficiently used."
In general, Suthan feels that it is a great idea to bring alive characters from films like Bond, too.
Suthan also thinks that Bob was supposed to be well recognized as the dark character that he played, and then the reactions of the audience should have offered opportunity for a different spectrum of nuances. "On the contrary, if he wasn't casted as the killer, and if that character didn't matter to the script, anyone could have played that role," he notes.
Suthan loved the way in which Anurag Kashyap was used by Cadbury. "He may not be a character from a script, but certainly cinema as a palette. And what a marvellous film that was! The use was perfect, the plot even better."
He explains that when an in-film character is used, and if one really needs to juice the character, one needs to take latitude from the world of that character.
Suthan opines that the film isn't a stunning execution and at best average. "There are drops. It definitely could have been handled better. But then, that's also linked to the money available for production," he concedes, and adds that the makers of this campaign should stick to the format of quickness and work that thought.