Met Tata Coffee's Rapper Granny Yet?

By Snehojit Khan , afaqs!, New Delhi | In Advertising | January 13, 2016
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Tata Global Beverages, which recently entered the branded coffee segment with 'Grand', has launched a multi-media ad campaign to target the quality conscious Indian. Does the campaign - and the funky mascot - work?

"Jaago Mohan Pyaare, time to smell the coffee..Coffee hai yeh coffee, nai koi joke. Tata ke plantation mei bani hai coffee, soch mat peele baaki sab dheele..."

Well, this is exactly how Tata's new age Granny has urged customers to try out Tata Coffee Grand, its latest brand of instant coffee. With this new line of product, Tata Global Beverages makes an entry into the branded coffee segment in India for the first time.

Tata Coffee Grand campaign

At the heart of the new campaign, is an unconventional peppy South Indian Granny who is portrayed as an agent of change. Granny is dressed in a mix of traditional South Indian attire and Western hip-hop apparel. With her sunglasses and bling, she takes on a bunch of youngsters in a style no less than that of a showstopper. In her signature style, she raps about 'coffee, the way it should be'.

Tata Coffee Grand campaign

The TVC was launched on December 29, and it will soon be followed by other marketing approaches such as a 360-degree virtual reality tour of the Tata Coffee Plantations in South India, to be viewed on social media or on Google Cardboard via mobile. There will also be a series of disruptive web films that launch a mission to 'kill bad coffee', digital activation across social media platforms, and media and PR integration and activations all across the country.

Tata Coffee Grand campaign

According to Sushant Dash, regional president - India, Tata Global Beverages, the main idea was to introduce the product to the audience in a unique manner. "The product has been introduced to our consumers at a time when the coffee culture is significantly picking up, and hence, we wanted to hit the space with something disruptive. A key primary objective of the campaign was to tell our compelling product story in a unique and interesting manner," says Dash.

Tata Coffee Grand campaign

According to Dash, the product, which is a blend of agglomerated and freeze dried coffee (which we call decoction crystals) is a first-of-its-kind instant coffee in the market. "This, coupled with the fact that the coffee is sourced primarily from Tata's plantations, it makes for a compelling story," he says.

Tata Coffee Grand campaign

Dash further says, "In line with the objective, the campaign is disruptive. It uses diverse media platforms aimed at striking a conversation with audiences across all age groups. In a highly competitive market, a fun and quirky initiative like this would help the brand connect with the audience and create an instant recall."

Tata Coffee Grand campaign

Commenting on the character of Granny for the advertisement, Dash feels, "In order to meet the objective, we thought how we can tell a product story in a manner that is not boring and vanilla. So, we (together with our agency) brainstormed over who was that one person who had the final word when it came to coffee (even more so in South India), and we arrived at none other than the grandmother."

Sushant Dash

Shriram Iyer

It could be just any granny. "But, our Granny must imbibe the values and personality of the brand. Her wisdom and experience is what makes her a granny, but really at heart, she is young. She is outspoken, highly opinionated and animated in her dissent of things if they aren't the way they should be. She is a trendsetter who is sure to connect with audiences of all ages, thanks to her 'swag' and the way she communicates -- through rap music," adds Dash.

The brand has been created and conceptualised in a way that it could reach out to not just the traditional coffee drinkers, but also to the segment of the market that possibly does not currently consume coffee at home.

Conceptualised by Mullen Lintas, the campaign will be supported by an extensive social media plan and media integrations. The advertisement will be aired in Hindi, Tamil, and other regional languages.

Commenting on the campaign, Shriram Iyer, national creative director, Mullen Lintas, says, "With Tata launching a new brand of coffee in a market that's dominated by two strong players, the brief was simple -- to create disruptive and differentiated communication, just like its product. We've tried to break away from the monotony of conventional advertising of the coffee category by enlisting the help of a South Indian grandmother who's anything but traditional. Decked in hip hop gear and bling, she teaches consumers through rap what it takes to make great coffee and to stop drinking what has now begun to pass for coffee."

Iyer further adds, "Starting from Tata sourcing its coffee beans from its own plantations, to the presence of decoction crystals in the coffee, Tata Coffee Grand is a disruptive product offering in the category. And, we felt that the best way to communicate this was through a disruptive device - hence, Granny and her rap."

Iyer feels that since coffee is an essential beverage in South India, the South Indian Granny is an ideal face for the product range. "Coffee, being a staple beverage in the South of India, with Tamil Nadu being the unofficial expert on the beverage, for the launch of Tata Coffee Grand we have taken the highest authority of coffee from Tamil Nadu -- a South Indian Granny as the ambassador for the brand," he says.

Commenting on the execution, Iyer says, "In terms of the execution, the key challenge for us was to get the casting of Granny right; we needed someone who, while retaining her authoritative stance could also add oodles of cool quotient to the film."

According to a company statement the campaign mainly targets consumers who look for something different. It says, "We have kept the target group inclusive and have essentially aimed at targetting consumers who are looking for a change. We are ideally targetting customers who are quality conscious, young at heart and are constantly seeking experiences which are fun and quirky, while not compromising on the authenticity of it. Our consumer insights tell us that consumers are seeking an 'upgrade'."

The web films, the digital activation, and PR integration have been conceptualised and executed by Rediffusion/Edelman. Speaking about the campaign, Ashutosh Munshi, director - creative and content for India, Rediffusion/Edelman, says, "There's a clear creative model the category follows. We wanted to do something very different. We started with an experience that speaks for itself, a virtual reality tour of freshness homegrown. After this, the superiority of Tata Coffee Grand is shown not with a smell, a brew, a sip, a smile... but instead, with a badass Granny who, with a single slap or a rap, can kill anything sub-standard, especially bad coffee."

One of the most interesting marketing techniques that will be adopted by the company is the use of a virtual reality film. It is a first-of-its-kind film that will provide a 360-degree tour of the Tata Coffee plantation in South India in order to showcase the origins of the product. This is the first time a brand in this particular category has used such an approach to content.

The company is well-known for memorable advertising campaigns like Jaago Re in the past which has given a distinct identity to the company over the years. With a disruptive advertisement, Tata has for the first time, tried something which is completely different from the overall company image in terms of advertising.

Peppy, but short-lived

According to Manish Bhatt, founder director, Scarecrow Communications, the ad falls in the disruptive category and is quite peppy. "The company has used a very old formula which has been tried and tested and has been proved to be successful over the years. It is no doubt entertaining," he says.

Manish Bhatt

Gopa Kumar

Bhatt also feels that somewhere in the bigger picture, this particular ad does not really measure up, especially after the point where Granny enters the plot. "The production value is nice until Granny appears in the video. The whole concept becomes very confusing in the second half since it starts more like a music video, changes into a spoof, and finally ends as a rap video. It could have been handled more realistically," says Bhatt.

"Personally speaking, I feel that a music video format would have ideally worked for the brand since music is an intellectual property and good music is everlasting. Since it is disruptive, it would attract audience attention surely, but it would be short-lived. Besides, the music and lyrics are sub-standard, and not at all unique. This is the biggest negative point of this ad," he adds.

Gopa Kumar, vice-president, Isobar, is not much impressed by the advertisement. He feels that although it is different, it is not at all great. "The Tata coffee ad is definitely different, but everything that is different may not be great. I appreciate the bold attempt to break the conventional story-telling approach which has been taken by Tata Coffee, but it fails to impress," he says.

"I believe the rap piece is too high on branded gyan, while too less on fun, excitement, and entertainment. It is gripping for the first few seconds with the 'Grandma Rapper avatar', but fails to captivate me for long. Somewhere in the middle, the audience loses interest. I think the best reference point could have been the Fiat Motherhood Rap, which was so naturally shot, yet full-entertainment packed," adds Kumar.

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