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Asian Paints releases digital film to honour Saroj

By Aditi Srivastava , afaqs!, New Delhi | In Digital | July 18, 2016
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Saroj is one of the 25,000 painters the brand has trained under the Asian Paints Colour Academy, an initiative for which it has partnered with National Skill Development Corporation and Skill India.

Asian Paints recently released its long-format digital film 'Saroj - The Leader' to promote its brand Colour Academy - the educational arm of Asian Paints.

The five minute, forty-three second film, created and conceptualised by Ogilvy & Mather as part of the 'Naam Hoga Toh Kaam Hoga' campaign, shows the grit and determination of a young girl who decides to put her career as a beautician on the backburner for a while to take a leap of faith into the unknown and unexplored world of being a painter by getting enrolled into the Asian Paints Colour Academy. Supported by her family, her decision to do so brings her several accolades and opportunities later.

Asian Paints digital ad film 'Saroj - The Leader'

Saroj lives in a small house with the bare minimum necessities, travels long distances across the city, and returns home in the evening after earning her daily income as a beautician. The young, ever-smiling and determined girl is one of the 25,000 painters to be trained by Asian Paints at the Asian Paints Colour Academy in Mumbai last year. The training was part of an initiative undertaken by Asian Paints in collaboration with the National Skill Development Council and Skill India, a Government of India initiative, to help citizens enhance their existing skills by giving them access to various affiliated and accredited training partners and infrastructure providers.

Asian Paints digital ad film 'Saroj - The Leader'

Asian Paints digital ad film 'Saroj - The Leader'

Commenting on the digital film, V R Rajesh, senior vice-president, client servicing, Ogilvy & Mather, says, "The brief was to define the brand Colour Academy, the educational arm of Asian Paints that promises to transform unskilled labour into professional experts. 'Naam Hoga Toh Kaam Hoga' is the first recruitment campaign, started one-and-a-half years ago, through on-ground, radio, and the print medium. The video, which was developed to inspire and recruit interested participants from small town and villages, was played at 'labour mandis'."

When quizzed about brand integration, and why the brand was visible so late into the film, Rajesh says, "Branding was not really the issue over here. The only question we asked ourselves was whether it was inspiring enough?" When asked about the dual branding (a bike brand) in the film, Rajesh says, "Any brand name appearing apart from Asian Paints is purely incidental."

Asian Paints digital ad film 'Saroj - The Leader'

Asian Paints digital ad film 'Saroj - The Leader'

The film is directed by Rahul Dadda from the production house Filmicians. The background score and the anthem music have been composed by Rohit Sharma of 'Ship of Theseus' and 'Buddha in a Traffic Jam' fame.

Asian Paints digital ad film 'Saroj - The Leader'

Asian Paints digital ad film 'Saroj - The Leader'

The popularity of the digital ad film can be gauged by the fact that ever since it went live on the brand's YouTube channel on July 7, it has clocked over three lakh views till date.

Asian Paints digital ad film 'Saroj - The Leader'

Asian Paints digital ad film 'Saroj - The Leader'

According to Rajesh, at the time of its inception, the campaign was a standalone activity, mostly driven through on-ground activations and radio spots. It generated outstanding recruitment figures (Colour Academy trained 25,000 professionals last year). "The figure was big enough for us to start digging for more such inspiring stories and 'Saroj' was just the first one of the lot," he says.

When asked about what the most challenging part was during the shooting of the film, Rajesh shares, "Since it was a true story, we wanted believable characters. The casting was the most time-consuming part of the project, and was done over two weeks. Saroj is a girl from Mulund, and the film is largely shot near the Saki Naka metro station. We tried to replicate the same house and living conditions as we observed during our sessions with the characters, Saroj, Ram, and their family."

The film aims to reach out to unskilled labour across India which is corroborated by the presence of the Asian Paints Colour Academy in a non-metro city like Gorakhpur. The film has also made use of social media sites like Facebook in order to expand its reach and inspire as many individuals as possible to change their lives for the better.

The Verdict

Arthi Basak

Arthi Basak, general manager, account planning, Interface Communications, finds the film to be 'a good piece of content'. "Every ad today, whether in long-format or short, secretly hopes to maximise its shares and likes. It's a good initiative by the brand which demonstrates the company's efforts in empowering and imparting skills to women and also demonstrates the service extension of the brand portfolio," says Basak.

When asked if the brand name should have made an early appearance in the film, she says, "In a long-format ad, story relevance supersedes brand relevance. But, both have to be in sync to ensure that the key message is delivered. Age-old rules applied to FMCG advertising, typically purported by research agencies during campaign testing such as 'brand name should appear in the first five seconds' are no longer applicable. The rule today is that there are no rules. If the content can hold the viewer's attention and create an impact, it has done its job."

She prefers calling the new and emerging genre of digital ad films as 'advertainment' as they bring together a good mix of advertising, information and entertainment.

Sagar Kapoor

Sagar Kapoor, executive director, Lowe Lintas Group, feels the film may not have too much of a dramatic effect. It may not go instantly viral, nor will it fade out of public memory soon after its release. "It is an honest piece of work. That is perhaps the reason it is not said in a manner that would sound ear-raising."

Commenting on the brand integration, Kapoor, who prefers calling such ad films 'digitales', shares, "Overt branding probably wouldn't have let the film be as true as it is now."

Manish Bhatt

According to Manish Bhatt, founder-director, Scarecrow Communications, the film is "strategically well-made", with good narration and voiceover, but is overtly branded and falls flat creatively. He has reservations about the film's 'virality' as well. He finds the film to be more of a documentary rather than a classic advertisement, or perhaps even a long-format digital film.

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