Few months back, an aerial picture of an illuminated map of India went viral. Touted as an outer-space photo of India on Diwali night, the image was actually the morphed result of several superimposed NASA-owned pictures. Kit Kat's latest, pre-Diwali film is vaguely reminiscent of this photograph.
The four minute-long online commercial captures the emotions of a lone astronaut (played by actress Rupa Bargaonkar), who takes her Kit Kat break in outer space. The film is pretty much an ode to those who're away from their homes this Diwali.
Interestingly, the astronaut un-wraps her Kit Kat bar in the traditional 'Kit Kat way', one that viewers are used to seeing in ads released by the brand.
The film went live on YouTube on October 17 and has since fetched over three lakh views, 75,000+ likes and 12,500+ shares. The Twitter hashtag #MyDiwaliBreak is also part of the campaign. To promote the campaign, parent brand Nestlé is also leveraging the popularity of celebrities and Twitter influencers like actors R Madhavan and Lara Dutta, author Chetan Bhagat, and sportsperson Mahesh Bhupathi. And today, a Twitter contest around the same theme (Diwali break) is being held.
Flight into space, flight from tradition
Kit Kat commercials typically bear a certain degree of perkiness and a strong 'fun' element. What prompted the brand to opt for this sort of serious, cinematic storytelling this time around? Mayur Bhargava, general manager, chocolate and confectionary, Nestlé, says, "For decades, Kit Kat has been synonymous with 'breaks'. It has always urged people to take breaks and see the brighter side of life."
Saurabh Saksena, senior vice president, JWT, Gurgaon, tells afaqs!, "The campaign is only slightly different from other Kit Kat campaigns," considering this one was hinged on upcoming festivities.
"The brand communication codes are still the same," says Saksena, "The protagonist takes a KitKat break when faced with boredom/monotony, consumes the bar and gets a delightful, out-of-this-world break, which cheers her up."
The song has been written by lyricist/writer Swanad Kirkire, the music is composed by Sameeruddin, and it has been sung by 15-year old Jasleen Royal.
Of late, long-format, emotion-heavy storytelling on digital media appears to be the preferred choice of brand marketers. Another recent example is Pepsi's seven minute-long Diwali film, also by JWT.
"The concept of digital films," opines Chraneeta Mann, national creative director (regional), Rediffusion-Y&R, "is a trend that is catching on fast in India." She cites Pepsi's Back to School and Nescafe's recent stand-up comedian films as examples to support her view.
"Marketers tend to be a little more experimental about the content they seed online," she says. Typically, once the "digital experiment" is received well online, it gets "that nod of approval from clients." That's when edited versions of the films are broadcast as TVCs.
According to Pratik Gupta, director, new business and innovations, FoxyMoron, a digital agency, more than being emotional, the Kit Kat video scores on the timeliness factor. He is referring to India's recent mission to Mars. "The juxtaposition of India's recent success with Mangalyaan and Diwali is effective," he says, adding that it is only this recent success that makes Nestlé's "connection between India and space believable."
The overall treatment and production value, Gupta says, make the film "a treat to watch."
Commenting on the timeliness factor, Senthil Kumar, national creative director, JWT India, says, "Diwali was the right time to play the emotional chords of a homesick young Indian astronaut, posted in a floating space craft for more than 300 days, longing for her motherland."
At the heart of the story, Kumar adds, is her experience of taking a Kit Kat break, one that brings tears of joy to her eyes, as "her entire country, of a billion people, is wishing her with a billion lights on Diwali night."
Orbiting around subtle branding?
Marketers have been going noticeably easy on the 'branding element' in digital films of this kind, and the product per se seems to be taking a backseat. FoxyMoron's Gupta comments, "Less visibility of products in long-format digital stories has become the standard practice for brands nowadays," attributing the trend to factors such as "the kind of audiences being targeted" and the all-important "shareability factor."
"Virality," he reasons, "cannot be achieved with a product-driven ad which only speaks about products benefits."
According to Vineet Bajpai, Group CEO, TBWA India, the film is "refreshing," on several fronts - topical storyboard, emotional brand connect, product presentation and creative execution.
"The subtle and delayed introduction of Kit Kat into the narration," Bajpai observes, "is an example of 'less is more'." The film he says is both, "a tribute to the modern Indian woman," and "a peep into the future of video content-based digital advertising."
However, the subtlety hasn't gone down well with everyone. Rediffusion's Mann feels the branding element is too subtle. The whole video, she points out, leads up to the "product reveal," something that's complete with "the languid snapping of the Kit Kat finger."
Moreover, the situation in the film, she feels, might not help things on the 'shareability' front, as it is low on the 'relatability factor' and lacks relevance in the lives of consumers, quite unlike the struggle of a stuttering comedian (Nescafé) and the nostalgia of high school buddies (Pepsi).