Tata Sky: Breaking grounds

By Devesh Gupta , afaqs!, New Delhi | In Advertising | April 30, 2013
The latest brand communication from the DTH player features foreign nationals who try to escape from an Indian prison.

DTH player Tata Sky recently launched a television commercial to promote its offering, Tata Sky + HD that offers video recording. The film, 'Prison Break', was shot in a prison of Budapest.

The film begins in an Indian prison where three foreign prisoners decide to escape on a day when there is an India-Pakistan match. They assume that all the jail guards will be busy watching the match and none would pay attention to the prisoners. However, when the prison guards intercept them, one of the prisoners asks 'What kind of Indian does not watch India-Pakistan match?' to which the jail warden responds 'Hard working Indians'.

The three-and-a-half minute film was produced by Curious Films and conceptualised by Ogilvy & Mather.

Abhijit Avasthi

Speaking on the insight behind the film, Abhijit Avasthi, national creative director, Ogilvy & Mather, says, "The brand wanted to communicate that all those people who are unable to watch their favourite shows, movies or matches, can record it using the new Tata Sky + HD. We used the concept of prison because it is one of the professions where one needs to constantly be on the vigil and the time for relaxing is very little."

Since the campaign rolled out, several factors such as the length of the film and the use of foreign nationals as prisoners have drawn flak.

Clearing doubts, Avasthi says, "Sometimes the brand communication could be done in 30 seconds and sometimes it needs a long time. But the whole idea is that whatever the brand aims at communicating should be done in a fun and engaging way so that the message reaches the people."

He adds that though using Indians as prisoners could have also served the purpose, using the foreign nationals as prisoners made the film look more patriotic as the jailer ends the film with 'Hardworking Indians'.

While the entire three-and-a-half minute film was aired on channels during the first week of the campaign, the 60-second and 75-second versions are being shown now. The campaign will be spread on other media such as OOH, radio and digital.


Mythili Chandrasekar

Ferzad Variyava

Satbir Singh

Mythili Chandrasekar, senior vice-president and executive planning director, JWT, says, "The length of the commercial seems to have become more of a talking point than the idea itself. The production value is great, and feels straight out of a Hollywood movie. The style suits an entertainment brand and the channels it appears in."

"Just ironical that 'those who don't have time to watch TV' will have time for a three-and-a-half minute ad, that too for a service which viewers want to be ad free," says Chandrasekar.

Ferzad Variyava, former executive creative director, Publicis Ambience, adds, "Using foreigners, initially, did throw me off but the pace and suspense of the ad propelled me beyond the initial doubts. Could a completely Indian casting have made more sense? Possibly. However, the ending gave me enough reason to swallow the firang casting as an intrinsic part of the plot."

Speaking on the same lines, Satbir Singh, managing partner and chief creative officer, Havas Worldwide India, says, "It's a very...er...arresting ad. The length too works in its favour for the first couple of views. The foreign cast does give it a fine movie prison break look. The warden's a super character."

Variyava though mentions that the TVC is longer than usual ads, it was a bold change to shake up the usual format. The way the film is crafted and builds up towards the final reveal also convinces one about the long format, he says.

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