Luggage, as a category, has some inherent peculiarities, more so in a country like India where frequency of travel is particularly low. While the consumer's involvement with luggage is moderately high at the time of purchase, her interaction with the product is limited to the time spent traveling - which isn't much as far as most Indians are concerned. Which means that despite being a relatively high-value durable, luggage, by the nature of its usage, does not have the benefit of top-of-mind recall. An added problem is that while luggage is almost inseparably linked to travel, it also happens to be one of the most cumbersome and forgettable aspects of traveling. The upshot is that luggage is something that the consumer doesn't think of… till thinking about it becomes unavoidable.
It is in this context that one needs to look at the new television-centric ad campaign for luggage major VIP, which went on air late last week. The 'montage' campaign, very briefly, is about people bidding one another goodbye at the start of their respective journeys. An elderly lady at a window waving to a car making its way out of the gate; a doorman at a hotel waving to a departing guest; a toddler clinging to his father's leg, even as the amused father tries to shake the kid off and go out the door; a little girl sitting in the boot of a car and waving… The images are overlaid with a peppy track that goes, 'Bye-bye… bye-bye… Jaana hai door/Jaana hai humko/Jaana toh hai jaana/Aayenge jaldi hum… Bye-bye… Goodbye…' The film ends with the slug: 'Happy journeys begin with VIP.'
Through the campaign VIP Luggage is clearly aiming to own travel by appropriating one of the most critical constituents of travel - the time of departure, which is a natural catchment for a range of human emotions, one among them being the traveler looking forward to the journey he is embarking on. And it helps that departure time is the moment when the traveler is most closely involved with luggage. "When the client briefed us that the aim was to ultimately own travel, we decided to narrow it down to one, single aspect of travel," explains Balki (R Balakrishnan), executive creative director, Lowe. The agency had the options of owning the journey, per se, the destination, or the homecoming. But, as Balki points out, none of these options were true to the traveler's involvement with luggage.
"We needed to own a moment where the consumer is most closely involved with luggage," he reasons. "And we realised that that moment is when the traveler, bag in hand, bids goodbye. There is a happiness associated with starting a journey, and bidding farewell is the actual moment when the journey begins. By saying 'Happy journeys begin with VIP', we are tying the brand to travel. And we have simplified the thought of 'happy journeys' by symbolically using 'bye-bye', as 'bye-bye' is something small and endearing that people can easily associate with."
"In a two-travels-per-year segment (travel in India essentially constitutes a yearly visit to a relative's place, and maybe a pilgrimage every second year or so), you have to generate consumer recall, which is why we decided to own the most critical aspect of travel - the departure," says Tarun Chauhan, vice-president, Lowe. "And by accentuating the two-three interactions the consumer has with the product every year, we are underlining the brand's association with travel." He also points out that VIP, by virtue of brand size and presence, is best placed to own travel. "VIP being VIP can confidently own a proposition as big as 'bye-bye'."
'Bye-bye' also cuts across age and socio-economic barriers. Which suits VIP just fine, considering it is a heritage brand that is trying to make itself relevant to a new generation of consumers, without alienating its traditional base of loyalists. In fact, the brief to the agency was more than just 'own travel'. "The brief was also to reengineer and freshen the brand," says Chauhan. As happens with many heritage brands that are also giants in their respective markets, the problem that VIP is encountering is that the brand is fast becoming generic to the category, with the result that competition from cheaper brands is eating into VIP's sales. The other issue facing VIP is an inability to come across as a vibrant brand among younger consumers.
That explains the distinctively hip, urban imagery in the 'bye-bye' ad, exemplified in the way a 'metro train' has replaced the workmanlike 'diesel train' we are all so familiar with. "We have kept the feel very contemporary as the intention was to give everything connected with the brand a smartness," says Chauhan. He, however, points out that the "youthful imagery" has been incorporated without moving away from the brand's credible role of a custodian of the category. "The transition of the brand was kept in mind so that the brand retained the core VIP values that the consumer has come to trust," he says.
One thing is certain. After the sentimental, middle-class-values-packed overtones of the powerful and long-playing 'Kal bhi, aaj bhi…' campaign, the more bubbly 'bye-bye' thought is completely unexpected. Balki, for one, says he knew all along that comparisons are bound to surface. "'Kal bhi…' is a strong thought which still plays in people's heads, and it was quite a challenge doing a 'post-Kal bhi' campaign," he says. He does, however, feel that if 'Kal bhi…' was right for its time and the type of consumers it addressed, 'bye- bye' is right for today's consumer. "The advertising for VIP is taking the consumer through the path she has taken in life," he says. Â© 2003 agencyfaqs!First Published : November 10, 2003