Dipping into India's 'gully culture' for inspiration, sportswear brand Puma (India) has created a three-and-a-half-minute-long music video titled 'Suede Gully'. As the name suggests, it promotes a range of footwear from Puma, called Suede.
Being promoted as a 'multi-lingual street collaboration', the video features eight rappers, seven street artists and 36 hip-hop dancers from Mumbai, Delhi, Shillong, and Madurai, where the film was shot over eight days. In the film, we see glimpses of a graffiti-covered local train in Mumbai, a sprayed staircase in Shillong, as well as 'street shots' from Madurai and Delhi.
The anthem, composed by Sneha Khanwalkar and directed by Sasha Rainbow, is in four languages - Hindi, Tamil, Punjabi, and Khasi.
The Mukti Mohan-led dance crews feature Bengaluru-based Black Ice Crew, Shillong's Unity One, Mumbai's Beast Mode and Delhi's Higher Vision crews.
Vishnu Srivatsav, creative head, DDB Mudra South, tells afaqs!, "India has a strong street culture which has evolved over the years. Yet, it has managed to retain its rawness. Our streets communicate opinions. Over time, these streets have grown to become a mode of self-expression for many."
He adds about the birth of the idea, "We recognised this resilient underground street culture bubbling under the surface and decided to amp it up and bring it to light. The stories from Indian streets are diverse in nature and authentic. Their struggle is real. To attempt showcasing these Indian streets in just one language is a sheer injustice. Hence, we opted for a multilingual approach."
Sasha Rainbow, director of the ad, tells afaqs!, "I wanted to portray the connection between the traditional aspects of our cities and their heritage, with the modern aspects of the future and counter street culture. I wanted to show how the past and the future can sit harmoniously together to great effect."
According to Debosmita Majumder, head of marketing, Puma (India), this ad film is a little larger than fulfilling sales objective because the backbone of this campaign is a movement of the biggest kind of street culture. "When you make a brand campaign you cannot be sure that it will have a sales impact. But what you really want is that the brand gets recognised, so that one can associate certain attributes with it. That's really the endeavour and eventually, we do hope sales improve," Majumder says.
Puma has always looked at 16-25 as its core TG and the brand will continue to do so. That's the reason the campaign has been launched on digital platforms such as YouTube, Facebook and Instagram along with radio. "For us, digital is the key medium of communication because youngsters are hardly watching TV and they are watching the content of their choice on digital and social platforms. Also, to let the tune reach a lot a people, radio becomes a very relevant medium," explains Majumder.
Sporting the right way?
Puma is not as prolific an advertiser as some of its rival brands. And any messaging on the part of the brand needs to be memorable. So, we asked the experts, 'will this piece of communication see it through for a few weeks... months, perhaps?'
According to Bikram Bindra, vice-president and strategic planning head, GREY group Delhi, this piece of work is an excellent example of the changing order of the advertising industry - this isn't a campaign or an ad.
"This is a piece of content, created on the back of unpeeling sub-cultures and marrying that with a distinct brand point of view and then bringing it alive through rich and varied collaborations. This is the kind of work that should outlive typical communication fatigue," he says.
Further, Bindra finds this campaign to be explosive, energetic and visually stunning. "The film has you hooked from frame one and you are pulled into a rhythmic cornucopia that straddles movement, music and mayhem. It is edgy, a riot of colour and chaos, and very attitudinal," he maintains.
Agreeing with Bindra, Kailash Surendranath, ad film-maker and founder of Kailash Picture Company, a film production company, says that despite being a bit long, it's very watchable, right till the very end.
"It is 'Mile sur mera-tumhara...' for the hip-hop generation because it has covered different Indian languages - Hindi, Tamil, Punjabi, and Khasi. These days, youngsters don't even care about the language as long as they like the beat and the music. Language-wise this ad is brilliant because it has covered what young people listen to. It doesn't matter whether you understand the language/ lyrics or not. But if you like the beat, sound, song, video, and the action in it, then that's enough," says Surendranath.
He adds, "The best part of the film is that it is very 'desi'. It's a film that presents Puma (India) and it does the job very well."
A look at some of the campaigns launched by PUMA in the recent past
Brand: Puma (India)
Agency: DDB Mudra Group
President and Managing Partner, DDB Mudra South: Ranji Cherian
Account Management: Pritika Gupta, Yash Singh Dabi, Atria Ghosh
Media: Bharath Gaddam, Sagar Govindraju
Creative: Brijesh Jacob, Vishnu Srivatsav, Sooraj Pillai, Jonah Costa, Sukanya Subramaniyan, Sajni Masturlal