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BPL Mobile: Metaphors of freedom

By , agencyfaqs! | In | December 29, 2003
The new commercial for BPL Mobile verbalises the relevance of the brand's 'wirefree' positioning by capturing the significance of the state of being 'wirefree'


Some ad films come good on account of the strong, single-minded and utterly unique idea that resonates through the film. Some others endear by telling a warm, simple human story that delightfully puts forward the brand proposition. And then there are commercials that appeal by dint of scintillating and compelling execution. No, it's not as if these are mutually exclusive forms of expression; quite a few good commercials combine, at some level, two if not all three dynamics. But by and large, one or the other dynamic takes precedence by way of getting noticed the most. Serving as a memory trigger for the ad in question.

Unquestionably, execution is what the new television commercial for BPL Mobile - which is scheduled to go on air tomorrow - will be best remembered by.

When a commercial is execution-led (fiercely execution-led, as in this case), describing it isn't a particularly good idea. Simply because such ads are meant to be seen, not heard or read about. Yet, purely for the sake of explaining what makes the BPL Mobile ad so nice, we're sketching out the basic idea. The film is a composite of quickly edited, non-linear montages (patience, this is not your garden variety 'montage film') that are all about physical restrictions and eventually breaking free.

So there's the small boy in a classroom waiting interminably for the recess bell to ring, even as the teacher's authority looms over the huddled class… There's the fragile butterfly caught in a cobweb, fluttering its wings, desperate to pull free… The boy fighting to extricate himself from the folds of the heavy sweater he's wearing… The man in the office stretching to reach a pile of papers just beyond his reach as he speaks to someone on a fixed line…

Time crawls viscously in the classroom. The deceitful cobweb is unrelenting. The sweater hugs tighter. The chair in the office lists precariously, the telephone wire goes taut. Then snaps. Symbolically.

The school bell rings loud, ending the agonising wait. The butterfly tears its way out of the last sticky threads and takes flight. The boy yanks the sweater off with a final heave… 'BPL Mobile. Live wirefree,' says the super.

Wirefree. And the significance of the state of being wirefree. That's what the ad so effectively captures and communicates. True, 'wirefree' has been BPL Mobile's stated positioning thought for some time now, but it's only with this commercial that the cellular network brand has been able to verbalise the relevance of the thought. In a very lateral sense, that too.

BPL Mobile has revisited the wirefree thought after a considerable period of time, at least in film. The last commercial for the brand (the 'silence' film, which, for the record, was created almost two years ago) focused on the network's claimed superior voice clarity - with an implied 'better network' pay-off. In fact, sporadic airing of the 'silence' ad notwithstanding, the brand has been out of mainline media for a while now. This, at a time when traditional rivals such as Hutch, Airtel, Escotel and IDEA - and challengers such as Reliance Infocomm, BSNL and Tata Indicom - have been upping the ante on television.

That partly explains the new ad. "The brief from the client was fairly simple," says Varun Mehta, creative consultant, TBWA India, the agency that has created the new ad. "BPL Mobile wanted a new piece of communication that would bring the brand alive by giving it a new sheen. And they were clear that they wanted to own the 'wirefree' thought, and whatever we did had to build around 'wirefree'." Considering 'wirefree' is generic to the entire category, it can be assumed that there was no quickening of the pulse at the agency. "Yes, we could have fought for something else, but the challenge was in sticking to 'wirefree' and figuring how to crack it," Mehta reasons.

It was when the agency looked at the implications of 'wirefree' that the idea sprouted. "'Wirefree' is about freedom and not being constrained. Now a lot of cellular brands have done the freedom bit in a real sense, but we saw that there was perhaps a way out by talking about freedom in a metaphorical sense. That would give the communication a fresh expression," Mehta says. With category advertising broadly doing the "emotional number of tugging at the heartstrings", the agency also saw an opportunity to be different.

The executional idea took root with the image of the butterfly trying to escape the web, Mehta reveals. "I just had this image in my head, and a great execution came to my mind," he smiles. "I spoke to Prasoon (Pandey, who has directed the film) and Narayan (Kumar, executive creative director, TBWA India) about it. One thing led to another, and we came up with the thought of different things being stuck or entangled, all trying to tear away, and then finally breaking free. The basic thought was to heighten the feeling of being tied down, and then show the joy that comes with freedom. All through situations that people could identify with."

All credit goes to Pandey for keeping the ad tight while dramatising the 'tying down' in each and every sequence. "The treatment was to take the stuck moment and stretch it to the maximum, as it's the last moments before freedom that are the most agonising, as any kid waiting for the bell to go off will tell you," Mehta agrees. "It's like some dark force holding you back and a sense of helplessness. Prasoon has brought that imagery into the film. I knew this was going to be a very graphic-led film, and I thought Prasoon is the only person who could pull it off."

Mehta is also happy with having had a supportive client in Sanjay Prabhu (head, brand management, BPL Innovision Group). "Being execution-led, this was not an easy film idea to buy into at the script stage, but Sanjay saw the idea in it and backed us marvelously," he says. "I want to thank the client for the leap of faith displayed. Without that, this film couldn't have been made." © 2003 agencyfaqs!

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