Some brand names, by their very construct, have it in them to open up communication possibilities. Where the brand name, on account of being so single-mindedly graphic, actually helps put the advertising idea in motion. One such brand name is Footloose, the recently launched range of 'casual bags' (sling bags, satchels and knapsacks) from luggage maker VIP. And Ronnie Wadia, associate vice-president & senior creative director, HTA, agrees that the advertising idea for the brand's new television commercials came from the brand name itself.
To understand what we're getting at, here's a quick recap of the twin-edit, 35-second commercials. Executed in a 'montage format', the commercials are essentially about urban teenagers just being themselves, damn the world. So, for instance, there is this shot of a girl running amidst a flock of pigeons taking flight, her arms 'flapping' has if she too is flying. '68 % footloose', reads the super. Another montage has the close-up of a boy stretched on the bonnet of a car, chilled look on face. The next shot reveals that the boy is actually lying on a car that has been hitched to a tow-away truck. '76% footloose', says the super. Next, the shot of a boy and a girl standing by the roadside, 'thumbing' a ride. The subsequent shots reveal that the two have just hitched a ride on an elephant. '82% footloose'.
A girl seated on a cycle rickshaw, her boyfriend pulling the rickshaw… Another girl at a busy railway station, lost in her personal world of music… A brilliantly rendered rustic folksong forms the backdrop of the commercials. Both edits end with 'digitally censored' shots of a group of boisterous boys skinny-dipping in a pond. '99% footloose', says the super, followed by another which asks, 'How Footloose are you?'
"With a brand name like Footloose, we realized that whatever we created has to emanate from the brand name," says Wadia. "And what the name suggests is things like being carefree, being comfortable with oneself and doing what one wants to do" All this being very true to today's urban youth, who form the brand's target audience. Explaining this further, Shoumitra Raichoudhri, creative director, HTA, who also scripted the ads, says, "For the youth, 'being chilled' is very important. And being chilled includes some amount of craziness… or footlooseness."
The idea for the commercial came from a youth insight, in fact. "We talked to kids and realized that there is some degree of footlooseness in everyone," says Wadia. And though this degree-of-footlooseness varies from individual to individual, everyone has his or her own 'crazy deed' story to tell. "That's when we hit upon the core idea of a footloose spirit," continues Raichoudhri. "Now the question was how do we show degrees of footlooseness in a cinematic sense? So we ascribed percentages to different footloose moments, situations and expressions. And all the situations we have shown in the ad are perfectly natural and very plausible from the teenager's point of view. That's why even the models look like real people you see everyday. And at the end of it, by asking 'How Footloose are you?' we link the situations back to the viewer and his interpretation of footlooseness."
No two ways about the fact that the attempt here is to reach out and connect with the core consumer's individualistic 'being chilled' attitude to life. There is very little effort at selling the product, per se. Small wonder, considering the brand hasn't much to offer in terms of a rational argument. After all, the primary competition for Footloose comes from the unbranded market and the cheapest Footloose bag bears a price tag of Rs 399. Seasoned bargain-hunters could pick up bags at half that price at, say, Delhi's Central Market or at Linking Road in Mumbai.
"We are not selling a product but an attitude, a lifestyle," admits Wadia. "Yes, the quality of the bags from Footloose are much better and the designs are more interesting, but feature to feature, there isn't a huge difference. To justify the price difference, we have to sell attitude. And attitude is something college-going kids readily buy into." Interestingly, perhaps by default, Footloose will also be competing with the likes of Nike and Adidas at the top-end of the market. "Yes, that's why the styling of the commercial was critical, so that it rivals that imagery," says Raichoudhri.
There is little doubt that it is the film's background score - based on a Punjabi folk song - is a key element in the ad. The soundtrack simply lifts the film several notches. (In fact, the score and the images can be mistaken for a music video.) Credit for this goes to Navdeep Singh, who has directed the films. "Navdeep has added a lot of value in terms of styling, treatment, edit and music," Wadia confesses. "His interpretation of the script was very radical, and honestly, the treatment was very different from what we were expecting. We took the films for presentation with some trepidation, but the client bought it hook, line and sinker."
Agency : HTA, Mumbai
The Team :
Creative : Ronnie Wadia, Milind Nabar, Shoumitra Raichoudhri, Bijuriya Mathur
Servicing : Melwyn D'Costa, Smita Das
Filmmaker : Navdeep Singh
Music : Vishal and Shekhar
Production House : Film Farm
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