Ashwini Gangal
Advertising

"We want to add a layer of aspiration to Bata": Sumit Kumar

In a multi-media ad campaign, titled 'Where Life Meets Style', that releases today, Bata makes an effort to contemporise its look and promote a hot new range of products.

For a global brand that has been in the country for 83 years, one that has been mistaken for a local brand one too many times during this period, and, one that commands a giant checkmark each in the boxes marked 'brand awareness' and 'brand recall', what's the next step, really?

"We want to add a layer of aspiration to Bata": Sumit Kumar
"We want to add a layer of aspiration to Bata": Sumit Kumar
"We want to add a layer of aspiration to Bata": Sumit Kumar
"We want to add a layer of aspiration to Bata": Sumit Kumar
"We want to add a layer of aspiration to Bata": Sumit Kumar
"We want to add a layer of aspiration to Bata": Sumit Kumar
"We want to add a layer of aspiration to Bata": Sumit Kumar
"We want to add a layer of aspiration to Bata": Sumit Kumar
The answer lies in the words of Sumit Kumar, brand custodian of Bata India. "We want to add a layer of aspiration and contemporariness to the brand," says the vice president and head of marketing and customer service, Bata India.

One look at the footwear brand's latest marketing campaign is enough to know what he means. Full of scrubbed, young faces, Bata's latest burst of print ads appears to be an effort to appeal to the new crop of consumers. And assuming these youngsters are the children of Bata's loyalists in the country wouldn't exactly be going out on a limb.

The copy on the print ads is noteworthy in this regard. It goes: 'Where first dates meet anniversaries', 'Where the professional meet the playful', 'Where business hours meet happy hours', 'Where weekdays meet weekends' and 'Where the committed meet the casual'. An effort to keep both Gen-now and Gen-then happy, we note. Little wonder then, Bata's Kumar chooses not to slot the campaign's TG into a fixed age bracket.

So, did the burden of Bata's age and reputation (what? - descriptors like durable and reliable aren't exactly synonyms for cool and stylish!) give way to this marketing effort? "Bata resonates with trust, durability and comfort. This campaign is about catering to an evolving consumer base, without alienating anyone. We want to remain connected with the requirement of our loyal customer and at the same time, make the brand aspirational," says Kumar, former Marks & Spencer hand, who joined Bata India around six months back.

Titled 'Where Life Meets Style', the campaign has been created by DDB Mudra Group. According to the agency's chairman and chief creative officer, Sonal Dabral, the strategy behind the campaign is to establish a fresh connect with today's youth while building on the equity the brand already enjoys - after all, the brand has been part of an entire generation's growing up days, he reminds us.

The TVC has been shot entirely 'waist down' and showcases Bata's new Spring Summer collection, comprising not just a new range of footwear but also accessories like bags, sunglasses, belts, and scarves, items that most customers only notice only after entering the brand's store. Speaking of which, we learn that Bata plans to open over 100 new stores in India by the end of December 2014. The company launched its first 'global concept store' at Saket, Delhi, just last month.

Speaking about the 'legs only' execution of the film, Kumar says, "The product is the hero of the commercial. The objective is to showcase the brand as contemporary, aspirational, stylish, yet accessible." The slice-of-life execution shows different situations - a child walking on his dad's feet, a birthday party, collegians seeing their exam results on a notice board, typical classroom 'footsie' between a girl and a guy, a gang of girls shopping, a bunch of guys cyber-slacking in office, an adventurous group enjoying the outdoors and a little girl wearing her mom's shoes.

Besides print and TV (60 and 20 second edits), the media mix includes radio (a 30 second jingle has been created for the medium), digital (including a 'Making of the TVC' video), cinema, events and outdoor.

Where Ad Meets Review

The campaign fetches mixed responses from our creative experts.

About the new tagline, Minakshi Achan, co-founder, Salt Brand Solutions, says, "Well, it isn't the most inspiring tagline but it makes the point."

The film showcases the range in a "joyful fashion," she says, adding, "Bata is one of the most trusted, nostalgic, iconic brands in the country and for those very reasons, it doesn't need to talk about functional attributes. I think the commercial gives a lovely free-spirited mood for the brand, a fresh, young personality and soft-sells their summer range beautifully."

Will this effort serve to alienate Bata's 'older' loyalists? "Not at all. Bata has been part of all our growing up years and memories, and the communication cuts across all barriers of age," Achan answers.

Nima Namchu, chief creative officer, Cheil India, says, "I don't believe Bata needs to be made aspirational; it needs to be made relevant to today's consumers. In that respect, I think the campaign is shallow."

The new tagline, Namchu feels, is "just too unbelievable", coming from a "fuddy-duddy" brand like Bata. If the desired response is to make Bata cool, then the brand, he reasons, has a lot more riding on its products and retail experience than this campaign.