With summer holidays close at hand, a whole bunch of new ad films are hitting the screens, both big and small, with these in mind. One of them is for Carlton Edge, a newly launched variant from the luggage brand which comes with an extraordinary lifetime guarantee - and that includes damage during airline travel.
The film opens with a young man in London taking a shortcut through a park when he and his Carlton Edge are attacked by, of all things, a gorilla. In the brief and rather violent encounter, the suitcase is hurled about and stomped on. That, in any case, is the improbable story the protagonist offers for the Carlton Edge dealer to explain the damage. The dealer just smiles and responds, "No problem sir."
Carlton, which was born in London in 1976, was acquired by India's leading luggage marketer, VIP Industries, in 2004. India is now the largest market for the brand.
The brand's agency of record is Whyness which was founded in 2013 by advertising veteran Ravi Deshpande. Carlton, which has been positioned as 'the new face of business' was last advertised in a major way in 2014.
The current campaign is visible on television, outdoor and digital, including social media. According to Deshpande, "Carlton Edge targets the young, ambitious business disruptor, who travels extensively for business and needs a luggage partner that is tough and ready to last a lifetime of journeys."
When asked about the challenges in shooting the film, says Deshpande, "The biggest was to pull off a convincing gorilla without the use of computer graphics. We therefore employed a realistic looking gorilla body suit worn by the world's foremost expert in gorilla impersonation." The other big challenge, adds Deshpande wryly, was dealing with the unpredictable British weather.
We turned to our panel of experts to find out what they thought of the ad.
Saji Abraham, executive director at Lowe Lintas is impressed with the promise of a lifetime warranty but not with the ad itself which he finds "a bit underwhelming". He thinks that the idea of "we take care of your bag whatever your story has possibilities but in this execution the joke's fallen flat a bit and the commercial isn't as enjoyable." He also finds the creators struggling with the paradox at the heart of the ad: if the bag is shown to be so strong that it can't be dented by even a gorilla, where's the need for a warranty?
Abraham argues that "when you have such a fantastic claim, perhaps sticking to reality helps amplify it better. The real nugget hiding behind the proposition are the three words, 'including airline damage'. Realistically speaking, that is the way most bags or guitars as Dave Carroll experienced, get damaged" (Carroll is the creator of a viral video in 2009 about mishandled baggage by an airline, amusingly told).
He thinks that amplifying the airline damage bit will be much more powerful; "currently their airport signage does a much better job of that."
Manish Kinger, creative director at ADK-Fortune says that the ad begins as a fun, original story: the language, the setting, the gorilla, "all the t's of a quirky atmosphere". But that's where it stops, he believes: "The idea is unoriginal and reeks of 'seen'. Off the top of my head, I can think of a car manufacturer and a luggage brand using the same template, three-four years apart." Kinger's big grouse is that the ad fails to capture the lifetime warranty. "At best it's an ad for 'any damage warranty'", he says.
The company is counting on the promise of a lifetime warranty, which has never been offered before in India, to see the product fly off the shelf. It is certainly a game changer that will put pressure on competing brands.