Biprorshee Das

Flying Machine: Being sexy, being yourself

Targeting the youth, one of the oldest denim brands in the country in its latest campaign talks of how the individual is at his attractive best being himself - complete with his strengths as well as imperfections.

While you do not need to ape another person to feel your best, neither do you need to hide any shortcomings that you might have. One is at his comfortable best being in one's own skin.

With a similar insight, apparel brand Flying Machine makes a statement in its latest campaign, saying, 'I am sexy when I am me'. A set of three television commercials have been created by Lowe Lintas Bengaluru, that push forward the idea that attractiveness lies in being 'you' - with all the quirks and imperfections.

Flying Machine: Being sexy, being yourself
Flying Machine: Being sexy, being yourself
Flying Machine: Being sexy, being yourself
One of the oldest apparel brands in India, Flying Machine, which has been around since the 1980s, felt the need to occupy a space that would fit best with the youth and become one with their state of mind.

The commercials show three youngsters who have broken the stereotype and carved their own comfort zones, finding their own stage - and quite successfully so.

One of the films shows a certain Sritheren - who looks like a regular nerd - buried in his books. Sritheren is shown tapping his foot as he continues reading. Soon, he breaks into a freestyle jig, showing how comfortable he is as a dancer as well, contrary to the otherwise held opinion about 'nerds'.

The other TVC shows Ami Shroff, a woman bartender - a rare breed in India. Shroff is shown spinning bottles with panache. The third commercial features IP Singh, vocalist of Faridkot. The young Sardar takes the microphone and, to everyone's surprise, begins rapping in Tamil.

Each film ends with the brand message, 'I'm sexy when I am me', and an added super that says 'Find your own stage'.

The films have been directed by Kishore of Alamara Films. The creative team at Lowe includes R Balki, chairperson and chief creative officer; and branch creative directors Rajesh Ramaswamy and Abhijit Ghosh. Rexena Devraj is the art director.

Talking to afaqs!, Alok Dubey, business head, Flying Machine and vice-president, Arvind Lifestyle Brands, says, "We did not want to say, 'You wear my brand and be cool'. Youngsters today have a strong urge to make it on their own and be their own selves. Flying Machine is associating with this mindset. We are thinking high yet our feet are on the ground. The youngsters in the films may not be celebrities for the masses but they are celebrities in their own rights."

He adds that the continuous brief to the creative agency is to work on increasing the cool quotient of the brand and connect with the consumer.

Flying Machine: Being sexy, being yourself
Flying Machine has been seen as belonging on the everyday shelf of the youngster and a perfect choice for those who consider 'who you are' more important than 'what you are wearing'; the campaign strategy was to turn this relative weakness into the brand's advantage over other players.

Instead of fighting the fact that Flying Machine was used on occasions when the brand did not matter, the idea focused on the fact that during those very occasions, it is the individual that matters.

"We are trying to say that Flying Machine as a brand can be the skin of the person most comfortable being his own self - without being pseudo, even if it means just being lazy," says Dubey.

The brand, which was re-launched in 2007 with actor Abhishek Bachchan as the brand ambassador, has constantly endeavoured to stay on the top of the young mind, associating itself with events and establishing it as an expression of youth creativity.

The campaign kick started through the print medium and is now also on television. It is being supported by outdoor promotions, digital and in-store activities.

The media duties are being handled by Maxus.

Comfort fit

The campaign has met with mixed responses from creative experts. While the positioning has been appreciated and is expected to work well with the youth connect, it is believed that a lot more is left to be done to make an impressionable mark.

Flying Machine: Being sexy, being yourself
Flying Machine: Being sexy, being yourself
Josy Paul, chairperson and chief creative officer, BBDO India says that the category is challenging to do exceptional work.

"Levi's broke new ground in the early nineties with Michel Gondry's famous 'watch pocket' ad! So did Benetton and Diesel. In India, Peter England found a new path with the 'Honest Shirt' and Allen Solly with 'Friday Dressing'.

More recently, Fastrack has been doing terrific work - based on a very powerful 'counter' attitude. Clearly, the category needs brave reframing, and not just a superficial rearrangement of yesterday's elements," he says.

Flying Machine, Paul thinks, has an interesting challenge going for it and while the new films could bring the old brand back to public notice, more needs to be done.

"Flying Machine is a legendary brand that still exists in our memory. Turning it into a mass-cult brand will take more than just advertising. The new set of films will help to bring back some lost salience. However, the more exciting solution will come when Flying Machine hits a cultural, individual or social 'tension' spot or creates a new useful platform that young people can engage with. Fashion brands have the license to do these sensational things," says Paul.

Amit Shankar, executive creative director, Grey Delhi is of the view that the positioning works well for the brand. Shankar has a kind word in particular for the bartender and the nerdy dancer films.

"The overall work is quite attractive. Youngsters today want to prove themselves and they do not need to follow the regular route. They can do so being themselves. This idea has been well captured by the brand through the communication," he says.

"Yes, the idea may not be new but the way Flying Machine has used it in the films makes the whole thing look catchy and well connected. The films are edgy and well shot," he adds.

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