Home and kitchen appliances brand Haier has recently launched a rather humorous campaign for its air conditioner that comes with self-clean, inverter technology. The ad has been conceptualised by Zero:Zero Creative Solutions and produced by Taxi Films.
The ad starts with a man in a maroon shirt that could easily make you imagine Murthy from rival Voltas' ad. But no! It is just a similar character that speaks like him. Mid-sentence he sneezes and a doctor and nurse magically pop into the room and say 'Thanda hai par ganda hai yeh'. This scene is followed by an Einstein-esque character trying to explaining something 'intelligent' before he also comes down with an affliction which once again brings on the doctor and his compatriot the nurse, who repeats their apparent "catchphrase" before leaving. The pattern follows suit into a bedroom with a couple in bed, ready to call it a night, when the 'good' doctor and nurse pop in yet again, dishing out the same gyaan. The ad ends with the doctor saying, 'Yeh thanda hai...' and the nurse completes the phrase with, '... aur changa hai'. Each scene clearly depicts an AC unit in the background and ends with Haier's new model in the room with the doctor and nurse.
Through this new TVC, Haier has taken a jibe at Voltas, Godrej NXW and Blue Star.
Haier's new TVC is an example of ambush marketing. But, Kumar Subramaniam, partner, Zero:Zero Creative Solutions, tells afaqs! that they don't believe in ambush marketing. "We believe all good marketing is based on a product truth. The new ad for Haier Self Clean AC works because it blows the whistle on a dirty secret - that most ACs cool, but blow out dirty air. And Haier's product truth is a technology that solves this issue."
The reader would have noticed that Murthy's look-alike in the new Haier ad is much easier to recognise than the Einstein and couple shown in the last scene. So, we asked Subramaniam if there is a danger of jokes being lost if consumers couldn't understand that Haier is mocking rival brands.
He replies, "Over the years, the joke has been played on consumers who have been paying top bucks for ACs that spew out unclean air. So, Haier actually holds a mirror to these consumers who are suffering, but haven't realised that the cause of their suffering are other ACs which are 'thanda' but also 'ganda'."
The brand's core target audience is primarily men in the age group of 24-45, living in metros and tier one and tier two towns, who are exposed to AC brands and are in the process of taking a considered opinion on the right brand as the Indian summers heat up.
With regard to what they were mindful about when making this ad, Subramaniam says, "We were mindful of the fact that the consumers should be educated about the secret harm that ACs are doing to their health, but we wanted to do it without fear-mongering and with a chuckle."
We asked our experts if the ad is well executed and have they done well with their ambush marketing effort?
Robby Mathew, chief creative officer, FCB Interface, says, "I understand that self-cleaning technology is a patented innovation from Haier. But the ad does a total disservice to it. More than 80 per cent of the time is spent running down the competition when it could have been used to dramatise this unique product benefit. Why spend your money to remind the TG about the competitors' brands? Also, why have a 'doctor and nurse' who look like comics to communicate your product superiority? Are we to believe them or take them lightly... like, say, in the good old Sprite commercials?"
Mathew adds, "I might be wrong here, but this looks like a case for ASCI, where the spokesperson for Haier points to the competition and says 'ganda hai'."
Sunila Karir, founder and creative partner, Boing!, says, "To take on brands like Godrej, Blue Star and Voltas, Haier needed to have come up with a communication far more powerful, even if it was ambush marketing. I personally think that for ambush marketing, the strategy has to be very clever and the communication intelligent. Haier had a wonderful proposition which was that of dust and dirt coming through your ac in the summer. It could have been presented in a much better manner, maybe even without resorting to ambush marketing."
Karir is not sure if the normal consumer will get the humour in this ad because she believes neither of the targeted ads are really iconic or memorable.
She adds, "In the past, we have seen some really wonderful campaigns in which brands have taken on one another head-on in a clever and intelligent manner. Case in point being - 'Nothing official about it i.e. Coca Cola vs Pepsi.' And also the Apple vs Microsoft campaigns which are absolutely spot on."