Dharma 2.0 director Shakun Batra: "When a brand picks up a celebrity, the idea is to balance the face and the product"

By Suraj Ramnath , afaqs!, Mumbai | In Advertising
Last updated : August 10, 2017
Shakun has directed the recently released TVC for Bluestone.com.

Online jewellery brand, Bluestone.com has recently released a new TVC, 'Jewellery Comes Home'. This is the first time that the brand has roped in a Bollywood celebrity. Contract Advertising (Delhi) is the agency of record. Dharma 2.0, the ad production house from the stable of Dharma Productions, which started in October 2016, has produced the film. The film has been directed by Shakun Batra (director of Kapoor & Sons and Ek Main Aur Ekk Tu).

In conversation with afaqs!, talking about the difference between shooting a commercial film and an ad film, Batra says, "You go in really quick, don't have prep time and shoot time, you're trying to tell a story which is much quicker and shorter so I think you are using the same tool but trying to create something different and create a story that can do justice in 30 seconds."

Shakun Batra Shakun Batra

We asked Batra whether there is a conflict between giving more screen time to a celebrity or the product. And he says, "I think when any brand picks up a celebrity the idea is to balance the celeb and the product and with jewellery, it is automatically much easier because it is worn by the celeb so it is not something that is away from you. It is a part of how you look. So it becomes much easier to shoot jewellery with a celeb because it is already on them. I generally think there is a way to balance the two."

He adds, "Ads are interesting and engaging because of the story and how you tell a story and not the face that's in it. Of course, the face has recall value but it is always about telling an interesting story first and things fall into place."

Adding to the challenges, Batra says, "I think one of the challenges that every ad faces is - How do you tell a story in 30 or 40 seconds?"

Gaurav Singh Kushwaha Gaurav Singh Kushwaha

Notice how the ad doesn't show the trying-to-buying conversion. The film ends with, well, more trying. Why so? "That's one of the things we had thought of", says Gaurav Singh Kushwaha, founder and CEO, Bluestone.com, "but we wanted the focus to be on the 'trying' aspect. Buying is very obvious; that comes to people's minds. The primary objective was to focus on the 'trying' process." The buying aspect, he feels, would have "diluted" the ad.

For dot coms, one of the big challenges has been dealing with the psychological barrier to purchase - surfers who browse online may hesitate before making a purchase online. Will the product look the same? Will it fit? These are some common doubts potential e-shoppers face. Former CMO of Bluestone.com, Pushkar Jain, in a recent interview with afaqs! (Published in afaqs! Reporter - June 16, 2017) said, "The biggest challenge is making consumers overcome the initial hesitation of making a transition from just browsing for styles online to making their first transaction."

Jain also spoke to us about changing urban lifestyles. "People today don't wear fine jewellery only during large traditional and family occasions, but do so on everyday 'occasions' too, be it a night out, office party, an important meeting, or maybe just 'feeling like it'. With an increasing tribe of fashion-forward women, fine jewellery is more everyday than ever, today," he said at the time, adding about the brand's 'Try At Home' offering, what the current campaign is all about, "A large percentage of our business is driven by metros and mini-metros. We have also seen the long-tail of smaller markets growing steadily. This has pushed us to expand our 'Try At Home' services to 18 cities. We already cover close to 20,000 pin codes across India."

To Kushwaha, the big challenge as of now is, "building the desirability and stature of the brand." He dubs this "a long term challenge..."

The ad films are currently on TV and digital. The brand plans to advertise on print and outdoor platforms too.


Luv Kalla Luv Kalla

About the absence of the 'buying' angle, Luv Kalla, an ad film maker and director at Bubblewrap films, says, "I believe not every ad needs to ask consumers to buy. Also, this ad is more about the service of 'trials at home' rather than the end product i.e. 'jewellery'. I quite like the fact that the brand is not asking me to buy their product but just saying try it out."

Kalla adds about the production value, "Coming from Dharma the production value is what one expects from them, 'opulent' and 'fairy tale-ish'. In fact, it's so opulent that I didn't know it was all happening at home till the VO (voice over) said 'at home trials'."

A look at all the ads produced by Dharma 2.0.

First Published : August 10, 2017
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