'Books are a uniquely portable magic,' said Stephen King once. Today, portability has reached new heights and it is time that the magic is shared with others. This seems to be the thought behind Amazon Kindle's first ever campaign for Paperwhite in India.
It is not a new story. But what makes this unique in this case is that it is read through a device - Kindle Paperwhite. The device was first launched in US on October 1, 2012 and updated to a second generation device in late 2013. It finally reached Indian markets in January 2014 and is priced at Rs 10,999 (for 2G) and Rs 13,999 (for the 3G variant) on amazon.in.
Amazon Kindle is the category leader, but the challenge before Amazon is that Indians are still not ready to part with physical books. Reading on a device is something deemed as impersonal. But stories, according to Das, are about emotions. Leo Burnett had to show the Kindle device as human in nature. By breaking the mental barrier about e-reading, Kindle hopes that it will be looked at as personal, cool and human and be the start to a behavioral change in India.
The Kindle Paperwhite's claim to fame is the no-glare feature. This means, that unlike most tablets or even smartphones, the Paperwhite reads like paper even in sunlight. The backlight lets you enjoy reading the book in low light conditions, making it preferable over physical books to many users. This is precisely what the brand has marketed the product around in the US.
However, this aspect is largely missing from the Indian campaign. What it does instead, is subtly show the facilities available - be it the long battery life (8 weeks wireless off), the no-glare facility, the capacity to easily buy and download e-books from the Kindle site and built-in backlight display.
"A love of reading and a profound appreciation for the people who create great books is part of our DNA at Amazon. The ad's narrative showcases how Kindle Paperwhite reader delivers the ultimate reading experience," says Manish Kalra, head of integrated marketing, Amazon India.
The current campaign was created by Orchard Advertising (a Leo Burnett agency) and written by Das and Gunjan Poddar. Under the direction of Cannes award-winner Ram Madhvani, Equinox shot the film in four days. The film was shot largely in Sri Lanka - with bits and pieces from Mumbai - and captures the journey to Sri Lanka. According to Equinox, India is visual cacophony and not an orderly graphic framed world. It comes from chaos, clutter, colour. And so they applied that to the framing. What also stands out in the film is the very rustic music by composer Tajdar Junaid to which Swanand Kirkire has lent his voice.
"Essentially, we need stories no matter what the format. We needed a film that has a heart, that made people believe in the magic of stories no matter how they are received," says Madhvani.
Is India ready for the Kindle?
Sundeep Nagpal, founder-director of Stratagem Media, worries that the brand may face a challenge because of the rapidly declining reading habit. The positioning question, he feels, could be whether the product can be expected to improve the reading habit. "The question is not whether the emotional way is the best way or not. I think the question should be that could there have been any other way to connect with audiences? And the answer is ... sure, they could have adopted a slice-of-life approach or even other ways. But it's probably a safer bet to expect emotion to establish the desired connect with target consumers," explains Nagpal.
Says Josy Paul, chairman and CCO, BBDO India, "It's a thoughtful film about generosity and giving. Beautifully told, it makes you want to spread the joy of reading. The film is rich with 'oxytocin'. It will be great if Amazon can live this feeling and move from brand idea to brand commitment. Because this has the potential to create acts not just ads."