Chandrima Pal

Frooti magic: Bhondu becomes the coolest dude at campus

The new Frooti commercial goes to the college campus, sporting a Bindaas attitude

“It is a marriage of the best of Bollywood with advertising.” That’s how Raj Kurup, creative head, Grey Worldwide, Mumbai, describes the new Frooti commercial that went on air recently. For those who missed it, read on.

The commercial opens with a nerd, identified as Apna Bhondu asking innocently: “Yeh Frooti peene se kya hota hai?” (What happens if you drink Frooti?). A collective gasp of disbelief goes up among a motley crowd of muscled hunks and skimpily-clad cheerleaders.

A smart boy spins into view, identified as Apna Hero. He clicks his fingers and a Frooti appears. “Huh! Aadmi bindaas ho jata hai,” (One becomes cool) he replies. Bhondu still doesn’t get it, “Bindaas bole toh?” (What do you mean by ‘cool’?).

Next, the crowd and the Hero break into a song and dance routine a la Bollywood. Twisting, twirling, jumping up and down, waltzing around girls, our Hero’s song goes something like this: “Jab jeeta bindaas, Jab hara bindaas….Khushi ho ya gam ho, main hoon hardam bindaas.” In essence, it is a paean to the ‘chilled out’ attitude in life, through the many ups and downs.

Bhondu finally gets it: “Fresh and Juicy! What a beauty! Mango Frooti!” This time both the Hero and Bhondu are identified as Bindaas as they enjoy a Frooti. MVO says “Bindaas.” (Comment on this ad)

As you must have guessed by now, ‘bindaas’ is the new calling card for Frooti. And, being ‘cool’ is the closest that the Queen’s language can get to it. Incidentally, with the tagline ‘Cool Mango’, the Frooti pack too seems to agree with this translation.

“For any drink, it is a fantastic attitude to be associated with,” says Kurup, who along with Vikram Gaekwad, created the campaign. “We wanted to treat the bindaas attitude like any typical Bollywood film would.”

That entailed roping in ‘Kal Ho Na Ho’ director Nikhil Advani to direct the commercial and Sonu Nigam to sing the jingle, which has been set to tune by Sanjay Advani. “We wanted to give the commercial a Karan Johar-esque feel,” continues Kurup. And the Johar elements are hard to miss. Be it in the bright colours, high-street costumes or even the Riverdale High-inspired setting, complete with a basketball court.

The task was to make the 20-year-old brand more “acceptable”, without too drastic a change in attitude. “Frooti has always been a youthful drink, we had to only broaden the appeal,” says Kurup.

Associating with the bindaas attitude and spicing it up with generous helpings of street-smart dialogue was one way of reaching out to the target audience. “The setting and the characters are easily identifiable. The campus could be anywhere in the country and the characters could be like the many we see in the films, or in real life.”

Kurup maintains that though the characters look familiar, they are unique. “Our hero is Akshay Kapur, a fresh new face, who is actually an aspiring actor. Even the Bhondu is a techno-savvy guy. Don’t miss his laptop.” The “formula” is simple, he adds. Like any Hindi film, take a song, a hero and a ‘bhondu’, put them in a college campus, and you have a blockbuster.

But is the brand trying to play it safe, by borrowing a leaf from Bollywood? Kurup defends, “Advertising has always borrowed from various sources. But at the end, this is just another experiment.”

Readers may recall, ‘Digen Verma’ was the last big campaign by Frooti. The teaser-campaign generated tremendous excitement in the initial stages, but what was supposed to be an 18-month campaign died a premature death. “The Digen Verma campaign was too much about the character and less about Frooti. That’s the reason why it did not cut much ice with the target audience,” analyses Kurup.

Digen Verma, a fictional character, was supposed to be Frooti’s answer to the Hrithiks and Shah Rukhs of the Cola giants. Digen was made out to be a popular, rebellious, and a successful sportsman, someone the average college-goer would identify with. This was important because Frooti was largely perceived to be a children’s drink, while Coke and Pepsi were carpet bombing college campuses and winning converts. As a part of the re-launch strategy, the packaging of Frooti was also changed and the baseline changed to 'Just like that.'

While ‘Just like that’ can be interpreted as a not-so-distant cousin of ‘bindaas’, the new communication too follows Digen into the college campus routine.

Nadia Chauhan, head, innovative marketing, Parle Agro, stoutly refutes. “This is no ‘routine’. Digen Verma was an entirely different strategy. We tried to create an icon with a different target audience.” Giving a face and a matching personality to the Frooti hero is one important departure from the invisible Digen Verma.

The new Frooti Hero is also not as rebellious as Digen Verma, neither is he a winner all the way. Even someone like Bhondu who drinks Frooti can stake claim to the bindaas attitude.

“The relation between our Hero and Bhondu is also a cute one,” she points out. The appeal of the new commercial does not confine itself to college-goers, claims Chauhan. “We are targeting tweens and pre-teens who aspire to be like the protagonists in the commercial.” In other words, Frooti is for everyone.

Like the colas and other fizzy drinks it is competing with, Frooti too seems keen to own an attitude. “Attitudes existed in the society long before brands did,” explains Kurup. “It is just a matter of which one best suits the brand.” And that’s how bindaas was appropriated. “Like the brand, bindaas as an attitude is spontaneous, easy and natural,” he adds.

But aren’t there too many brands staking claim to the ‘bindaas attitude’? “The colas and other frizzy drinks have to try harder to find a fit with the attitude,” argues Kurup. “A fun, youthful drink can only be described as a bindaas one,” pitches in Chauhan. “We enjoy 98 per cent awareness, and we don’t to have to try too hard to find a fit with the attitude.”

The agency has plans to expand the campaign with the two lead characters of the Hero and Bhondu. Radio spots too have been conceived along the same lines. But Parle is far more cautious this time around. The campaign will be on for six weeks, after which the company will take a call on the future of the bindaas idea, depending on the market response.

© 2005 agencyfaqs!

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