HP Bends the Rules

By Sohini Sen , afaqs!, New Delhi | In Advertising | October 08, 2014
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Brand ambassador Deepika Padukone is there but HP ups the fun quotient with content from internet's funny man Abish Mathew and some unknown heroes.

HP TVC shows Deepika Padukone as the fan

Abish Mathew plays society in this satire for 'Bend the Rules'

HP webisodes show the youngest Everest climber

Rajputana Customs was made by Bending the rules


The Mr HCL campaign

The Lenovo Yoga campaign featuring Ranbir Kapoor

Lloyd Mathias

Abish Mathew

Josy Paul

New age celebs are those who don't appear to be so and let their work speak for themselves. This is the core idea which Hewlett Packard (HP) is taking forward in its newest brand campaign 'Bend the Rules'.

The brand has ambassador Deepika Padukone in the latest TVC to launch the HP Pavilion X360 in India but the focus is on the people using the device - the millenials. The new convertible PC features a 360-degree hinge, letting it go from notebook to stand to tent to tablet mode in a flash. The celebrity in the TVC is not Deepika the star, but a certain Rohan Pratap - a banker turned baker.

The TVC opens with Padukone bumping into Pratap on a flight and telling him how she is in awe of him and his online cake shop. While others in the flight are smitten by the actress, she seems to have an idol. This shift from the celebrity, to people who have made it big on their own terms is what underlines the campaign thought. The internet plays the role of a catalyst by providing the latter with a platform.

Real heroes

The whole idea may remind one of an older Intel campaign 'Our rock stars aren't like your rock stars' which glorified the role of Ajay Bhatt, co-inventor of the USB. At the same time its tone is similar to the 'Mr HCL' campaign, where a man working for HCL becomes a household name by dint of the technology he (or his firm) used.

This ad stems from the global HP campaign by the same name. HP tied up with surfer Ian Walsh for the international campaign where Walsh used the X360 laptop to find and ride the biggest wave, and followers watched all the action on YouTube. "The new age Indian experiments with technology and the worldwide exposure that technology provides acts as an equaliser. These millenials bend the rules and make it big. These are the stars we are celebrating at HP," explains Lloyd Mathias, marketing head, Hewlett-Packard India.

The campaign has been extended to print, OOH and, more importantly, digital. Considering the fact that the target audience for HP is the urban youth between 16 and 35 years, digital as a way to connect with the audience is a good move. At the same time, a branded content video makes it funny and cool to be associated with it, especially when it comes from internet's funny man, Abish Mathew. "If you look at the video you will see it is not slapstick or even sarcasm. It is a satire which requires a higher level of intellect to 'get it'," explains Mathew. The video has three parts to it - the societal commandments, people's reactions to what you want to do and the historical greats who probably also had to face up to and go against society.

Mathew wrote 10 pages to get the three-minute video idea running and overshot the whole thing. While he feels it ties up nicely because the TG is young, had HP tried to speak to an older age group, he would have changed his script and tone completely. The idea of society 'supportively showing you down' (quite an oxymoron) would not work for them.

Webisodes have also been launched on YouTube where HP shares the story of Vijay Singh and the beginning of Rajputana Customs. Singh's clients in his offbeat profession mostly come from Facebook. On the other hand, Malavnath Poorna, the youngest girl to climb the Mount Everest, used YouTube videos to pave a new path for herself. While both the webisodes put the spotlight on unlikely heroes, HP's product gets subtly showcased within the video. HP is also inviting viewers to share their stories of bending the rules which may get converted into webisodes in the future.

"We wanted to start a conversation and movement by getting everyone else involved. There are so many content creators and stars on YouTube. These success stories make you realise that you can do it too," says Josy Paul, chairman and national creative director, BBDO.

HP, which enjoys the top position with a 29.5 per cent market share in the Indian PC market (according to an IDC research, August 2014), is launching the HP Pavilion X360 at Rs 39,990. While the pricing is competitive, it is not the first time that a hybrid laptop has come to India. Lenovo's Yoga had the same four modes but chose to make the product the star through the film, in spite of Ranbir Kapoor sharing the screen. Can HP really break the clutter, without giving much information about the brand or the product?

Sharda Agarwal

ND Badrinath

According to Sharda Agarwal, founder-director at MarketGate Consulting, a brand marketing consultancy that belongs to the Publicis Groupe, as long as the campaign shows a higher order benefit to the consumer, the product - even if it is not the first with these features - will do well. She believes that the message in this campaign "goes beyond functionality. This purposeful bending of rules to rise above the ordinary will work brilliantly with the youth. However, the success depends on how much money is invested to activate and sustain the campaign."

To ND Badrinath, founding partner, Aqumena, a Mumbai-based marketing consultancy, each medium has a role to play and TV is suitable for emotional connect, which the campaign has done. Talking about the strategy, he commented that HP needs to become cool and exciting to attract the youth. While the campaign turns up the image, he wonders what it is doing for the brand.

"When you have the luxury of time on digital, why would you still not show more about the product and bring in the uniqueness of the product? Again, when you have good stories (like Rajputana Customs and Malavnath Poorna) you could have made them into shorter TV ads as well. A multi-ad campaign gives audience some variety," he points out.

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