Devina Joshi

Why Bachchan is having out-of-body experiences

Cadbury Dairy Milk has resorted to a teaser-revealer type of communication to take the ‘meetha’ proposition beyond purely celebratory moments

Sweet cravings can lead to more potentially dangerous outcomes than diabetes. Endorsing that thought is none other than actor Amitabh Bachchan in an ad for Cadbury Dairy Milk (CDM) chocolate created by Abhijit Avasthi, group creative director, O&M, Mumbai, and his partner, creative director Shekhar Jha.

As is known, CDM’s ‘Pappu Pass Ho Gaya’ campaigns created quite a stir a few years ago – that was one of Bachchan’s first associations with the brand. The idea of celebrating small achievements and, therefore, the need for CDM, took birth then. Once those campaigns wore out, the agency launched the ‘Miss Palampur’ series, which saw Bachchan play a villager, celebrating his cow being crowned the village beauty. Although some felt the second series didn’t live up to the first in terms of creativity, executives at the agency and at Cadbury India assert the ads did their job, driving home the proposition that CDM is a brand for celebrations – any kind.

Why Bachchan is having out-of-body experiences
Bachchan humming sweet
songs to himself
Why Bachchan is having out-of-body experiences
The urge for meetha, and an
unfortunate detour
Why Bachchan is having out-of-body experiences
Bachchan faints, and his spirit
escapes in search of ‘meetha’
Why Bachchan is having out-of-body experiences
In vain, trying to open
a can of CDM
Why Bachchan is having out-of-body experiences
Finally, Bachchan possesses a
woman’s body and enjoys CDM
Why Bachchan is having out-of-body experiences
Bachchan back in his own body
But now, says Sanjay Purohit, director, marketing, Cadbury India, the order of the day is to broaden the scope for consumption. “The earlier commercials have been successful in helping us establish the ‘meetha’ proposition for celebratory occasions,” he says. “With the new communication, our objective is to broaden the occasions for CDM consumption to moments where one feels the ‘meetha’ urge from within.” Hence, the shift has been from the psychological aspect to the physiological aspect (an inner urge). In a sense, O&M needed to shed the ‘celebration’ premise it had adopted previously.

Avasthi and Jha decided to do so by launching a teaser campaign initially, in the first week of June 2007. The teaser ad opens with a shot of Bachchan in his chauffeur-driven convertible. Enjoying the ride, Bachchan sings to himself, “Kabhi kabhi mere dil mein”, to which his driver remarks, “Kitna meetha gaana hai, sir (Such a sweet song, sir).” As if reminded of something, Bachchan abruptly stops singing and tells his driver that he now needs something ‘meetha’ (sweet) to eat. He hurriedly asks the driver to pull over, and goes out hunting for something sweet. In the process, he bangs his head on a lamp-post and faints. A super invites the viewer to guess what will happen next, and log on to for details.

Over the 10 days between the launch of the teaser campaign and the revealer one, 17,000 visitors registered on the website and also entered a competition to preview the continuation TVC even before its launch on channels. The registered users were invited to a special microsite to view the commercial along with permission to invite two more friends, making this a communication initiative for the brand to engage with its consumers.

The revealer commercial on air right now has the full story. When he faints, Bachchan has an out-of-body experience: His spirit tells his body angrily, “Yeh bhi koi time hai behosh hone ka (Is this any time to faint)?” The spirit then makes its way to a Cadbury Dairy Milk vendor, but in true filmy fashion, isn’t able to communicate to the fellow, nor touch any tangible object. Desperate, Bachchan possesses the body of a young woman strolling nearby, and asks the vendor to give him a CDM chocolate bar (in Bachchan’s voice). The shocked vendor complies, and Bachchan finally gets a taste of the chocolate. Satisfied, he gets back into his own body and walks away as if nothing had happened. His shocked driver looks on.

The communication has been supported by radio, print, outdoor, on-ground activities (multiplexes and malls), mobile downloads and online advertising. In fact, the agency and executives at CDM created two animated mobisodes (mobile episodes), ‘Bol Bachchan’ and ‘Meetha Pranks’ on the CDM site, which are being updated every fortnight. The former is a voice e-mailer, while the latter will allow users to play ‘sweet’ pranks on their friends. According to Purohit of Cadbury India, having online and mobile activity brings some amount of measurability to the interest generated by the teaser campaign.

“The out-of-body experience that Bachchan undergoes was added to dramatise the urge of wanting something sweet, and the extent to which one will go to fulfil the urge,” concludes Abhijit Avasthi of O&M.

The ad has been directed by Shoojit Sircar of Red Ice Productions.

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