Sharing is caring, they say. Tata Docomo couldn't agree more. The telecom brand has released two new ad films that encourage its subscribers to make more calls and share (or 'forward', as it were) more jokes and messages with their friends. Keep the 'Bhalai Ki Supply' going, says the brand, as doing so might just brighten up a dear one's day.
The present campaign promotes the brand's special packages (1GB of 3G data at Rs. 185 and 1GB of 3G data with talk time worth Rs. 150 for Rs. 251) and encourages users to spread goodwill, without any hesitation, through more data-usage.
Jain explains that while voice remains a strong pillar of growth, 3G and VAS revenues are seeing rapid growth too. "As the penetration of smartphones across the country increases, we expect to see more traction in these two areas," he notes, adding that by 2017, the contribution of data in the total revenue of Indian carriers (service providers) is expected to soar to 20 per cent.
The brand recently launched a service that allows prepaid users to carry forward their unused data balance (for 2G and 3G), before the validity of their data pack expires. "We have plans that offer unlimited Whatsapp and Facebook access. We've also introduced a special service, that can be accessed by dialing *123#, through which consumers can customise their voice and data services, based on their usage patterns," informs Jain.
Speaking about the creative execution, Ashish Chakravarty, national creative director, Contract Advertising, the agency behind the campaign, says the objective was to give the brand a "distinct, youth-friendly voice."
"The language is quirky, and very 'today speak'. We wrote like we were not writing for an ad campaign, but for a funny video one uploads for kicks," he says.
The campaign has been written by a team including Mayur Hola, Kapil Mishra, Abhishek Chaswal, Sidhant Mago, Aastha Seth, Angud Bhalla, Umesh Grover, Gunjan Gaba, and the NCD himself.
The online behavior of the youth, believes Chakravarty, is very open. The brand's 'Open Up' premise needed a take that "motivates the audience to keep doing what they are doing, by reminding them how important it is to do so." Hence, the concept of 'Bhalai', we learn.
The TV-led campaign is being supported radio, outdoor and digital ads.
Quirky, yes. Memorable, no.
While the humour is not lost on our expert panel, they're unanimous in their view that the campaign is far from perfect.
According to Abhishek Dey, unit creative director, Lowe Lintas + Partners, the films are fun, refreshing and insightful. "When you can pack all of it in an ad, you've hit the sweet spot in advertising. These ads talk the language of the college-goer," he says. The only "missing link," he believes, are the actors in the films.
According to Raghu Bhat, founder and director, Scarecrow Communications, the campaign is based on an "intriguing, lateral idea," but lacks what he calls a "real insight."
"In the real world," he argues, "the motivations behind sharing or liking are very different than just 'bhalai'."
"This is not a fundamental human truth," Bhat explains, referring to the insight the campaign is based on, "It is an 'advertising truth', a 'mock argument' created by a product that allows it to occupy a 'brand idea' that in turn lends itself to different creative executions, for the purpose of creating humour."
Speaking of which, he applauds the execution. However, he feels the "existentialist, wry tone" of the voiceover artist might find few takers among an audience that likes 'loud' artistes like Kapil Sharma and jives to Yo Yo Honey Singh.
Meanwhile, Prithviraj Banerjee, planning head, Rediffusion-Y&R, Mumbai, feels the whole routine of the brand coming to the rescue, and relieving the "dark hues, low monotone voice-over and moments of human isolation" is a fairly textbook tack.
"It is memorable and entertaining in a tongue-in-cheek manner," he notes. The campaign, he thinks, will be spoken about in "urban, salaried India," but feels it is no match to the Vodafone Puppy, Airtel Border, and Idea Honey Bunny campaigns. Docomo's 'Open Up' platform is one that has a lot of untapped potential, he opines, dubbing it a call-to-action idea as far as the youth is concerned. He sees no connection between the ideas 'Open Up' and 'Bhalai Ki Supply', though.
The TG - young, urban professionals - Banerjee says, might not relate to the ads as they showcase a dark and depressing work environment, something that might not be true for many.
"The thought 'Bhalai Ki Supply' could have been staged in a happier, less pessimistic world," he critiques, adding, "With the entire country on the internet, the messaging could have gone far beyond gossip and jokes." This campaign, he says, is reminiscent of VAS advertising one saw back in 2006-08.
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