afaqs!

Urban Ladder: When things fall apart

By Saumya Tewari , afaqs!, New Delhi | In Advertising | February 18, 2015
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The online furniture store takes a rather unusual and negative route in its first-ever TVC, by portraying a couple separating from each other. Will it work in its favour?

Building a home is a positive and happy activity, and furniture advertising has always reflected this emotion. While some ads focus on the strength of the furniture, others on their longevity. Urban Ladder, an online furniture retailer, has chosen a rather grim execution, featuring a couple at the brink of separation.

Executed by Lowe Lintas and Partners, the TV campaign opens with a poignant background score, composed by Shantanu Moitra, as the male protagonist wistfully looks at their wedding picture. He carefully removes picture frames from the wall, separates his books and records to pack them as his wife, lost in thoughts, stands in the kitchen, occasionally glancing at him. She asks him to take the sofa with him since he had bought it, to which he responds that she should keep it since she chose it.

Urban Ladder's campaign

All packed up as he readies to leave, he takes a good look around and asks his wife if things have turned so sour that they can't even talk anymore? The wife sits on the sofa and he joins her. The TVC ends with both of them facing other as the voice over says 'kuch cheezein aisi hain jo paas le aati hain'.

Produced by Electric Dreams Film Company, the campaign is directed by Aniruddha Sen.

Manu Prasad

Manu Prasad, director - brand marketing, Urban Ladder, says that since launch, they have followed a targeted marketing approach, largely because they were present in limited cities. The brand has heavily used digital media and Facebook as marketing channels, but now, with expansion plans, it is looking at mass media for creating awareness.

"Furniture is no more just a functional element; it's a representation of one's identity and also of moments shared together with loved ones. Our brand campaign 'brings you closer' aims to highlight this warmth and the emotional undertones that Urban Ladder adds to a home," Prasad says.

The campaign targets SEC A consumers in the 25-45 age group, who are familiar with online shopping, are 'home proud' and appreciate great design.

Prasad informs that sofas and seating is one of their bestselling categories, followed by other living room furniture such as coffee tables, bookshelves and side tables.

Urban Ladder currently has a curated catalogue of over 1000 products in more than 25 categories. In terms of cities, Bengaluru drives most sales, followed by Delhi and Mumbai. The brand is also present in Chennai, Pune, Hyderabad and Ahmedabad.

With an average ticket size of approximately Rs. 20,000, it clocks close to 150-200 transactions per day.

"Bulk of the furniture market in India is still unorganised and, therefore, there is a dearth of trusted furniture brands which assure good aesthetics and quality. We see this as an opportunity, and wish to fill this gap by making a curated range of high quality products easily accessible," Prasad adds.

The online platform aims to be more 'visible' this year with expansion to new cities, product categories, and presence in mass media on its cards.

Speaking about the negative execution of the campaign, GV Krishnan, executive director, Lowe Lintas Bengaluru, says "We wanted a setting that was personal and intimate. It is such a one-dimensional way of thinking that situations will always be positive. The story was chosen because it can bring alive something so personal and intimate between the couple."

The campaign is being promoted on television and outdoors, and a contest around the idea 'brings you closer' on social media.

Worth the risk?

Experts unanimously agree that, as a category, furniture ads should focus on 'happy times', as building a home is a positive emotional experience which Urban Ladder campaign fails to capture.

Nisha Singhania

Raghu Bhat

Applauding the execution and background score, Nisha Singhania, co-founder and director, Infectious, believes that it is a relevant insight that when a couple separates, splitting the things can be very difficult and emotional.

"However, I don't know if people want to think about separation, especially when they are setting up a home or buying new furniture," she points out, adding that setting up a home is a very emotional experience - every piece of furniture is bought hoping for happy joyous times to be spent on it.

Her suggestion is simple - focus on the happier times that were spent on that sofa, as that would trigger a purchase.

Raghu Bhat, founder-director, Scarecrow Communications, believes that the campaign is far-fetched.

"Common interests, hobbies, conversations can bring people emotionally closer, but not a sofa," he rues.

Noting that consumers get bombarded with all sorts of communication and are smart enough to know what parts of the communication to accept and what to reject, he adds, "In this case, they might remember the brand name for an unusual storyline, which may not empathise with it. Some basic information about what the site offers wouldn't have hurt."

If it were up to him, he would have rather explored furniture-related insights, as online furniture is a nascent space, instead of trying to risk telling a story that may not be believed.

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