Opening scene, two guys sporting unkempt, curly hair are strumming and singing about a society with no gender discrimination, no religious intolerance and no economic divide - basically a utopian society with '#NoDifference'. No, we are not reporting about JNU students. In fact, we are talking about the latest digital video released by the domain registration and web hosting company, BigRock.
For the uninitiated, BigRock is a company that enables you to set-up your own website. Notable competitors of BigRock include, Go Daddy, Domain.com, HostGator and DreamHost, among others.
We got in touch with Ashish Khazanchi, managing partner, Enormous, to understand the relevance of this ad. He tells us, "We live in times when enterprises are popping up everywhere and there is a large market of self-employed people in India. There is a lot of traction towards dot-com since there has been a dot-com revolution, however, there was never a dot-net revolution. Since both are similar, we need to advertise it."
Both dot-com and dot-net came into existence in the year 1985. While the dot-com websites flourished in no time, dot-net domain was restricted to the network providers only, particularly the internet service providers. As the name suggests, dot-com was created to represent commercial usage and with passing time, business websites grew in unprecedented numbers and led to a situation of a 'dot-com crunch'. Websites ending with a dot-com became increasingly tough to register and hence a need was felt to scout for alternative domain extensions. Even when dot-net along with other alternatives like dot-in, dot-org, etc are available, people continue to work all sorts of permutation and combination to get the prized dot-com domain at the end of their web address.
The ad utilises an indirect model of advertising whereby the brand message is hidden somewhere between the multiple folds of analogy. So, what was the agency's perspective while opting for this mode of execution? Khazanchi explains, "Owing to the limited budgets, we aimed at doing something digital in nature that could possibly serve as a starting point and provide disproportionate results. For it to spread wide enough we need to keep pushing it in other people's feed so that it garners a lot of views - that's the law of virality. Therefore, we went a little rock based score and kept all key elements fairly young as youngsters are the primary target audence. Since youngsters are more willing to experiment and try new things instead of just going with default domain choices. The ad is not meant to create a complete cause and effect kind of an atmosphere. The ad may not even coincide at the exact time when you are going to register for your website. However, it will be there in the back of one's mind that the two domains are similar and that another option is available."
Ad communication - pitch perfect or jarring noise?
In the past, BigRock employed humour to convey the message in their ad films. Be it the Savitri Bai ad, Rambo acting classes ad ('give me the tooni now') or the Rachel's Yoga ad - all convey the message in a direct, creative yet no-nonsense manner. However, the latest ad marks BigRock's debut in the new breed of 'socially relevant but hey, we have to sell!', category of ads. We asked our experts if they too struggled to absorb the ad message or could they unravel this dot-net-dot-com algorithm maze in a single ad view?
Madhura Haldipur, creative lead, copy, DigitasLBi, tells afaqs!, "To be honest, I was slightly unsure of what to expect from the rest of the film when I saw two indie musicians crooning next to the Sea Link. Thankfully, it took a turn for the better. While it tugged at the right heartstrings, the intended message that there's #NoDifference between a 'dot-com' and a 'dot-net' wasn't as apparent. It's a good attempt - they have shown people holding tablets with the different domains in the end - but unless you read the description under the video, the message may not register as easily."
Speaking about having a music video as the base for the ad film, Haldipur tells us that music has always played a huge role in advertising. She adds, "...there have been some brands that have used it (music) for more than a background track. Take the 'Hum Mein Hain Hero' campaign, for example. It was a music video, with a powerful montage, and featured AR Rahman. Agreed, it was a brand campaign in a different category, but the effort to give their idea wheels helped achieve their objective. Not saying this music video made #NoDifference, but it's possible that this may end up looking just like a music video towards a social cause."
Not one to mince her words, Sunila Karir, founder and creative partner, Boing!, declares herself to be a big fan of the BigRock's ads. She terms them as 'hilarious', 'high recall' and 'spot-on', in terms of brand proposition. However, she is not too impressed with the latest musical offering. She says, "My first thought is - 'What's this ad about?'. It brought to my mind a similar campaign by McDonald's 'Hum hai different, but together.' BigRock's advertising has been quite a hit in the past and they have their own fan following. So yes, those commercials do ring a bell and the brand has managed to create quite a space in the consumer's head with their clarity of communication combined with the hilarious execution. Coming to this (ad) communication, as mentioned earlier, I haven't understood what they are trying to sell or establish via this video."
Bailing music out, Karir shares, "Music is an age old tool used in the world of communication and if the brand is clear about what it is saying, who it is talking to and finally, executes it accordingly, then music videos can be a very effective ally in the advertising mix."
A quick look at some of the ads released by BigRock in the past -