Spice Mobile: Dreamers Inc.

By Devesh Gupta , afaqs!, New Delhi | In Advertising | March 26, 2014
Through its latest TVC, the handset brand attempts to connect with rural youth, particularly those who harbour 'big city' dreams.

When the student is ready, the teacher appears. YouTube has given this adage whole new meaning. In its conventional form, training under a mentor meant beating the odds and travelling to his or her school/home. But today, there's no denying the new dimension YouTube has added to the process of learning a new skill, what with its how-to videos, audio-visual tutorials and do-it-yourself guides.

Spice Mobile targets rural youth

Sapna Sharma

Azazul Haque

Taking a cue from this modern day reality is Indian handset brand Spice Mobile. In its latest piece of communication, crafted by Ogilvy India, the brand spells the story of a young man from rural India, an aspiring discus thrower.

With limited resources at his disposal, the ambitious athlete learns the workings of his chosen sport by watching videos of players in action, on his Spice Mobile handset. The film ends with the message 'Milaye Sapno Sein', positioning the brand as one that helps you realise your dreams.

The creative brief, we learn from Sapna Sharma, head, marketing, devices, Spice Retail, was to initiate a relationship between Spice Mobile and small town youth (18- 25 years). The objective is to position Spice-the-brand as the only one that understands their dreams of a better life and Spice-the-smartphone as the means to achieve these dreams. "In a category characterised by largely undifferentiated, feature-based communication," the ad, Sharma insists, is a "departure from the norm."

The ad has been shot in Dholpur, Rajasthan, located on the Chambal River, that flows along the borders of Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan. "It attempts to target the youngster who is keen for personal change but is often handicapped owing to poor education or lack of opportunity. He is excited to explore the full potential of life through mobile internet, but is on a tight budget of less than Rs 10,000," says Sharma.

The ad, created by Ogilvy, is the outcome of a new strategy for Spice which is the brainchild of brand and marketing consultancy Bharat Bambawale & Associates (BB&A).

Azazul Haque and Mahesh Gharat, group creative directors, Ogilvy India, hope this film sets the tone and language in which brand Spice will talk to its consumers in the days ahead. "Nowadays the size of a dream has nothing to do with the size of the town one lives in. People from small towns have dreamt big and have made their dreams a reality. The campaign talks to these dreamers who live in small towns but are connected to their dreams through smartphone technology," articulates team Ogilvy.

The ad is being aired on TV, across major national channels. There's a heavy digital push to this campaign too; a social media campaign to create the 'World's Biggest Dream Tree' is underway. It is a platform on which people can share their dreams (through an app) and vote for those of others.

In India, Spice has a customer base of over 15 million and an annual volume of over 6 million devices. The company earns significant revenue from rural areas. It offers affordable smartphones and feature phones priced between Rs 1,000 and Rs 20,000. The company has a strong retail network (Spice HotSpots and Android Land) and commands a market share of nearly 4-5 per cent (of the Indian mobile devices market). The company has business operations across India, Nepal, Bangladesh, Uganda, Tanzania, Zimbabwe and Sri Lanka.

Re-playing the ad on YouTube?

Shobhit Mathur

Shailen Sohoni

Perhaps. Perhaps not. But on the bright side, both our reviewers have no trouble spotting the brand's effort to establish a bond with India's rural youth - those keen to make their way to the big cities.

Shobhit Mathur, executive creative director, Hakuhodo Percept, loves the song 'Sapno ki Sawari' but is not thrilled about the overall execution. "The insight and the formula are dated and abused. It's not that people are not seeing other commercials (especially Bournvita) or TV shows/movies like Jo Jeeta Wohi Sikander.

The execution could have been a few notches higher," he critiques. As regards the recall value of the ad, Mathur feels it is a touch-and-go effort, one that needs heavy media support to "take recall to the 61st second." The ad, he however predicts, "should work" in the long term, as it establishes Spice as a brand that encourages/respects dreamers.

Shailen Sohoni, chief operating officer, RK Swamy BBDO, Mumbai, feels the storyline starts off well enough and sets up great expectations for the ending which, in turn, is a bit of a "damp squib." "Inspired by Bhaag Milkha Bhaag no doubt, but not inspiring enough," he says, "The film craft in terms of production value is quite good with catchy and moving lyrics. The music has a nice emotional quality to it."

He pegs the narrative as the "weak link" in this commercial but makes special mention of the executional detailing, such as the gas cylinder bench press.

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