Does Fastrack's latest campaign cut it?

By Snehojit Khan , afaqs!, New Delhi | In Advertising | March 01, 2016
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Fastrack's latest ad campaign gives the catchphrase 'Never have I ever' a cheeky twist. This is also the title of a popular drinking game from the 1990s, isn't it? -- If you have done a certain embarrassing something, you drink up. A look at the new films.

Youth today seek unpredictable and out-of-the-box solutions for common problems which are also fun and exciting. Working on this insight, Fastrack has released its latest campaign titled 'Never Have a Never Have I Ever'.

Created by Lowe Lintas, the campaign consists of three different films showcasing three 'never have I ever' stories by the youth, for the youth. Released on February 20, the campaign will continue to be on air until March 19. The campaign has been released as a TVC, on YouTube, and has also been released on Hotstar for the first time.

Fastrack's latest ad campaign

It is a reflection of the way today's youth lead their lives in the face of constant pressure, in the endeavour to do something worthwhile, yet different. The commercials show the youth live up to the expectations in their own creative way. They don't take setbacks too seriously and handle any situation in the best possible way known to them. Whether the conversation is about recycling, upholding the law or saving water, the brand asks the audience to 'never have a never have I ever' moment.

Fastrack's latest ad campaign

In keeping with the brand's image, all three films take instances from everyday life and showcase how the youth take on uncomfortable situations head-on.

Fastrack's latest ad campaign

Speaking on the campaign, Hemal Panchamia, (outgoing) marketing head, Fastrack, says, "As a brand, we encourage our audience to look at the lighter side of things. In true Fastrack style, our latest three-film campaign is quirky, relatable, fun, and unapologetic. The campaign redefines certain social causes in the language today's youth understands, and encourages them to chill out and lead interesting lives."

Hemal Panchamia

Rajesh Ramaswamy

Panchamia feels that due to the pressure of social media and in order to be a part of it, youth today have opinions on every issue and put them forth on public forums. "And, if 16-year-olds are under so much pressure to be serious, when will they have fun? We have taken some common day-to-day issues and given it a brand twist. The concept may be unrealistic to a lot of people, but I am sure, the youth and especially, teenagers will relate to it," says Panchamia.

Rajesh Ramaswamy, executive creative director, Lowe Lintas, says, "It's always fun to work on Fastrack, but we had an especially great time conceptualising and executing this campaign. Coming up with situations for these films didn't feel like work at all, sitting around with friends, recalling or making up crazy stories. Director Vishwesh of Corcoise Films brought his own quirky vibe to the table and we're very happy with how the films have turned out."

The brand also confirmed that there will not be any more videos for this campaign other than those already released.

The brand has been known for its out-of-the-box progressive campaigns over the years. This is the reason why it has become popular among the youth, thus establishing itself as an independent youth accessories brand in the country. Fastrack's list of talked-about campaigns include Sorry for What, Just Be, Dump Them, Move On, Live in, Keep Trippin, Closet, and Mature is In. Each campaign tries to interpret the brand thought 'Move on', in a progressive, untraditional manner, targetting the country's youth.

Fastrack was launched in 1998 as a sub-brand of Titan. In 2005, it was spun off as an independent accessory brand targetting the urban youth. With the vision to become a complete fashion brand, Fastrack launched sunglasses in 2005 and then bags, belts and wallets in 2009. Today, it has over 150 stores including its exclusive store chain across the country.

Quirky and fun

Shobhit Mathur, executive creative director, Hakuhodo Percept, feels that the main idea behind the videos is to be full of fun. He says, "'The track that the brand is treading upon is heading for a trap'; 'find a cause and make a film around it seems to be the mantra'; 'what's the strategy'? The real essence of 'Move on' is getting lost' - these are some statements that a person who takes advertising way too seriously would say. For me, these are fun films. They deliver on the edgy irreverence the brand has differentiated itself on (kudos to the marketing team for believing in pushing anything but safe)."

Shobhit Mathur

Swati Bhattacharya

Vijay Simha

Commenting on the execution, Mathur says, "The films are shot well and they have a stop-and-look-at-me appeal. And deep inside, a lot of advertising critics would wish that they could do something so skittish with their brands. As for the campaign, will the films stir people up? No, they won't. Will they become the topic of discussion in college canteens? No, they won't. But, the targetted audience will connect with the message and the way it's delivered. Yeah sure, the execution does tend to overshout the cause trying to be depicted in the films, but today's youngsters are smart. They'll get it eventually."

Swati Bhattacharya, chief creative officer, FCB Ulka, feels that the films help her go back to her youth. She says, "This particular campaign will work wonderfully with the 17-25 year-old age group. I like the campaign and it takes me back to my youth. The execution is fun and the ads are brilliantly made. The films were short and crisp and to the point, though some may criticise the length since all three ads are of very short duration."

Bhattacharya further adds that youth is all about finding innovative ways out of awkward situations. "It is all about inventive measures. Given the current happenings in the country, I wish the youth could take a similar step in real life, just like the one in the rock concert commercial. The brand has always been pushing the edge with its advertising and it has done justice to this one too," she adds.

Vijay Simha, group creative director, Cheil India, did not like the films other than the water conservation one. "While the bathroom commercial made me smile, the other two simply didn't do anything. Only the first seems to have successfully carried forward the brand's manner of speaking, which is using innuendo," he says.

Commenting on the execution, Simha says, "The concept is novel, but the execution isn't. The films when viewed separately fall short of communicating the core message, without any context of the larger integrated campaign. The brand's earlier campaigns 'How many you have?' and 'Move on' were more stark, clear and impactful. Too much reliance on the end line 'Never have I ever.......' seems to have worked against the idea itself. Will it dial up brand recall? Maybe. Will it tell a new story clearly? Maybe not."

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