Ashwini Gangal

Tata Docomo: Live with abandon

Tata Docomo's latest multi-media campaign instigates viewers to open up, speak their minds and be themselves without worrying about consequences.

A bunch of little kids dancing in an ad could mean absolutely anything - from super absorbent diapers and healthy breakfast cereal to irresistible chocolate or even packaged drinking water that makes adults feel youthful. For Tata Docomo, unified telecom brand of Tata Teleservices, it simply means - 'Shed your inhibitions and open up'.

Tata Docomo: Live with abandon
Tata Docomo: Live with abandon
Tata Docomo: Live with abandon
Tata Docomo: Live with abandon
The brand's latest television commercial begins with a montage of kids dancing to a popular Bollywood song in their innerwear. The ad ends with a group of executives watching the film in office, one of whom gets inspired enough to break into a similar dance, much to the delight of his colleagues. At the end, the super reads 'Open Up. Laugh. Share. Talk.'

The objective of the film is to highlight the brand's commitment to enable and celebrate meaningful conversations with simple, value-for-money tariff plans (20p/min and 20p/MB) meant to facilitate stress-free conversations. The film, therefore, is an attempt to position the brand as a strong contender for consumers' next telecom recharge cycle.

"Why should you hold back, when life is enriched by uninhibited emotions?" asks Sanjay Tandon, chief operating officer, Draftfcb Ulka, the agency that has worked on this campaign. Children, who tend to express themselves freely, were deemed as the perfect protagonists for the idea.

The insight is that people tend to hesitate when it comes to speaking their minds. The burden of unshared emotions then leads to lifelong regret. The creative idea is to encourage meaningful conversations, as opposed to mere associations in an over-connected world that enables people to share pictures, music and thoughts, but not true emotions.

Gurinder Singh Sandhu, head, marketing, Tata Docomo shares that the brand's pre-campaign research revealed that often, in conversations, what remains unsaid is more significant than what is said. "Hence a fertile territory, never explored in telecom but extremely relevant in life, was identified: the sheer joy and magic of relief found in that one moment when a guy overcomes his hesitation and speaks his mind," he explains.

Interestingly, the main kid in the film is someone the creative team spotted in a viral video dancing to the peppy song, Dhinka Chika. The agency tracked him down in Kolkata and cast him as the lead in the commercial. In fact, the same song has been used in the ad. The segment featuring him, of course, was re-shot for the ad, but the home video-like look and feel was deliberately retained in the final version.

Talking about how Tata Docomo wants to encourage a return to an unrestrained display of emotion in today's straight-jacketed times, Vasudha Misra, senior creative director, Draftfcb Ulka, says, "Social norms, a desire for acceptance and political correctness have led to a stifling of free communication. That is where technology can play a break-free role. And, that is what our communication tries to embody," she says.

Five more product-centric films are in the pipeline. In the days ahead, the basic thought ('Open up') will be extended to outdoor, radio, ambient and digital platforms, to facilitate what the agency calls 'surround engagement'. On digital, efforts will revolve around getting people to share their 'Open up' moments through dialogue, pictures and videos.

Are we dancing yet?

Tata Docomo: Live with abandon
Tata Docomo: Live with abandon
While creative and strategy experts are sure people will enjoy the film, they point out a few pitfalls too.

To Suraja Kishore, national planning director, Publicis Ambience, the connection between the insight and the product is not very strong in the ad. "I guess trying any harder would have taken away from the enjoyment bit. And the magic happens when both enjoyment and effectiveness meet at some point. This one falls short on that note," he says.

About the creative execution, he says, "Use kids in an ad film and half the Indian population will go 'Oh, so cute,' so from an execution perspective, the film has packed in a lot of such cute moments." The charm of the film, Kishore points out, lies in its candid, home video-like treatment.

Ask him his thoughts on the use of a Hindi film song as the soundtrack and he says, "Play a popular Bollywood number and your ad might not win awards or be most effective but it will never go unnoticed, for we love replaying such hit numbers over and over again."

Satbir Singh, managing partner and chief creative officer, Havas Worldwide, feels the standard for "sudden, spontaneous burst of awkward dancing" was set very high by the Harlem Shake videos! "That was months ago, and that is when the novelty wore off too," he says, adding nonetheless, about Docomo's effort, "'Open up' is a fabulous area and hits the nail on its head. A lot can be done digitally around it."

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