Nokia: Heartland approach to broadbase appeal

By , agencyfaqs! | In | March 30, 2004
The latest commercial for the Nokia 1100 speaks in a lingo that the great mass of first-time mobile phone users in this country is more likely to understand

No ultra-hip urban imagery. No gizmo-centric, cutting-edge technology capers that promise a world of infinite possibilities at the fingertips. No gorgeous women being drawn to Nokia-toting hunks like moths to a flame. The latest Nokia commercial has none of the visual elements that one would typically associate with Nokia advertising.

Instead, what we have is splashes of quintessential Indian heartland, embodied in foot-tapping Punjabi music, a festooned truck, a garrulous truck driver and his diminutive flunkey… all of it layered with the earthy flavour of rustic India. In fact, the latest ad for the Nokia 1100 is a wholehearted plunge into the country's hinterland, and speaks in a lingo that the great mass of first-time mobile phone users in this country is more likely to understand and appreciate.

Before we get into the reasons behind Nokia's decision to appeal to the rural entry-level consumer, here's the commercial for those who've missed it on the tube. A creation of Bates India and creative consultant V Sunil (of A), the ad is about this truck driver and his harried sidekick (actor Rajpal Yadav) readying for a long journey. A close shot of the truck's front reveals a Nokia 1100 handset dangling from the bumper, along with the traditional green-chillies-and-lemon good luck talisman.

Loaded with goods, the truck finally embarks on the journey, making its way through the countryside. As they travel, the driver - the proud owner of the mobile phone - wonders why he still hasn't received a much-awaited phone call. His assistant assumes he has misplaced the phone, and launches a frantic search for the phone before he invites the ire of his boss. While unknown to the poor man, the phone swings merrily on the bumper.

Finally, the truck comes to a halt, and as the driver and his helper climb out, the phone on the bumper rings. Relieved at finding the phone, the helper fetches it in a jiffy. However, in the process, he accidentally presses a button. The phone emits a beam of bright light. Blinded, the helper wonders, 'Isme torch kyon hai?' 'Oye, raat ko bhi chalta hai,' his boss explains. The commercial ends with a super announcing the features of the Nokia 1100: 'Dust resistant. Torchlight and Anti-slip grip.' The parting shot is that of a 'Made for India' banner.

'Made for India' applies equally to the commercial, in fact. While most Nokia ads one sees locally are international creatives modified to suit Indian requirements, this one is among the very few Indian commercials the company has commissioned. True, the recent Nokia and Reliance co-branded film (about the smart aleck who discovers he can't carry out his threat of 'calling help' because he doesn't have a phone) is one more instance of creatives-for-India, but there aren't many more. Also, the Nokia-Reliance co-branded film, with its urban setting, stayed within the purview of standard Nokia advertising. The Nokia 1100 film, on the other hand, is a clean break from the Nokia mould.

Giving the marketing rationale behind the new communication, Sanjeev Sharma, managing director, Nokia Mobile Phones India, says, "The penetration of mobile phones in India is just 3 per cent, which is, incidentally, the lowest in the world (penetration in Finland and the UK, for instance, is as high as 70 per cent). Clearly, the scope for expansion is simply immense. In that context, the idea is to broadbase the appeal of mobile phones across all socio-economic segments." Data clearly suggests that the domestic mobile phone industry is on the threshold of exponential growth - the projected subscriber base for both GSM and CDMA services (combined) is expected to total more than 100 million by 2005. And considering fact that a large chunk of potential users reside in satellite towns and rural areas, building brand loyalty among this demographic subset is the logical thing to do.

Market potential is fine, but the challenge for Nokia lay in establishing a connect with the non-urban first-time users. To this end, the company had conducted a research to understand the needs and concerns of this segment. "One of the things we found out was that the torch is of high value," Sharma points out. "Besides that, a major concern was dust… People feared that dust might penetrate through the gaps in the keypad, and that explains the extensive use of handset covers in India. Another major concern was the grip of the phone - because of the climatic conditions in this country, people usually have sweaty palms, and therefore the worry, what if the handset slips?" Enter the Nokia 1100, which, according to the company, incorporates features that address each need and concern. "The Nokia 1100, which was launched in India first, is designed to attend to the needs of the Indian consumers," explains Sharma.

The 'Made for India' banner (which forms a part of the truck art), of course, reiterates the fact that the Nokia 1100 is Indian at heart. "Our starting point was to convey the Indian-ness of the model," says Sunil. "After various sessions of brainstorming, we arrived at the idea of using 'truck art' to communicate the regional flavour of the country. Truck art captures the essence and the heritage of a place, and, while Indian truck art has little recognition in India, internationally, it is very popular."

Broadbasing appeal to include a larger consumer base is one thing. However, in doing so, the communication runs the risk of subtracting the premium value top-end consumers attach to a Nokia. Sharma, however, doesn't think it's an issue. "No, not in the least does the latest piece of communication create dissonance in the minds of consumers with regard to Nokia's brand image," he argues. "The technology-driven ads have created a rub-off on the entire Nokia range. And fashion and lifestyle products create a desire at all levels, be it the first-time urban or rural user." For his part, Sunil adds, "That was indeed a challenge - to balance the aspirational aspect of the advertising with the need to target the first-time user. We did the balancing act in the way the music was remixed, and in the overall look and feel of the film."

The Team:

Creative : V Sunil, Sunil Chhabra
Filmmaker : Shiven Surendranath
Music : Medieval Pundits (Gaurav and Tapan)
Production House: Ad Film Valas © 2004 agencyfaqs!

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