Sohini Sen

"Indians are more aware of Skype than any other Microsoft offering": Raghuvesh Sarup

Under the 'Make it Happen' campaign, Microsoft is promoting the use of Skype on its Lumia series. Lumia came under the Microsoft umbrella after the latter's acquisition of Nokia in 2014, while Skype became a part of Microsoft in 2011.

A lot of brands, and people, talk about dreaming and following it up with action. Joining that ideology is Microsoft Lumia - which, in its latest campaign, is seen encouraging youngsters to dream big and 'Make it Happen'.

Microsoft completed the acquisition of Nokia in April 2014. Since then, Nokia's phone and tablet business has been running as a division in Microsoft called the Devices Group. Lumia, from that same stable, now comes with an increased number of features including MS Office and Skype - the popular online video chatting service bought over by Microsoft in 2011. The latest campaign brings the two - Skype and Lumia - together.

The first campaign shows a girl who wishes to be a fashion designer, but her parents do not support her decision. Her teachers arrange a Skype call with actor Kangana Ranaut, who convinces her parents to let her follow her dreams. The second film revolves around a physical education teacher in a girl's school where sports doesn't get much importance. Again, Skype comes to the rescue. Using the video chat service, ace badminton player Saina Nehwal makes the principal aware of the importance of sports in each of his student's lives.

"Indians are more aware of Skype than any other Microsoft offering": Raghuvesh Sarup
"Indians are more aware of Skype than any other Microsoft offering": Raghuvesh Sarup
"Indians are more aware of Skype than any other Microsoft offering": Raghuvesh Sarup
"Indians are more aware of Skype than any other Microsoft offering": Raghuvesh Sarup
"Indians are more aware of Skype than any other Microsoft offering": Raghuvesh Sarup
"A lot of brands talk about making dreams come true, but the way we have spoken about it is very distinctive and entrepreneurial. We have been inspired by real dreams to make these ideas, and it required a longer format to play it out. Though long form may be a cliché now, the video needed the problem to be shown and then the solution through the intervention," explains Sayantan Choudhury, AVP - copy, JWT.

"Skype is one such application which has helped millions stay connected with each other even when they are in two physically different worlds. But, for this specific campaign, using Skype as the tool, we wanted to explore a new dimension of interaction between people. What if, two people, living in completely contrasting worlds - the aspirers and the achievers - got together on Skype? Any interaction between these worlds can be magical if it will instill the young with confidence for their future and, perhaps, give flight to their dreams, hopes and ambition," adds Saurabh Saksena, senior vice president, JWT Gurgaon.

Both films showcase the 'Make it Happen' spirit with the help of Skype. So far, Skype's international campaigns have all been emotional, take 'Born Friends' or 'Impossible Family Portrait' for instance. However, in 2014, the technology brand launched 'Make it Happen' globally and encouraged people to come up with New Year resolutions. Microsoft then went ahead and tried to technologically make it possible to stick to the resolution. A microsite was launched in December 2014 to share stories of inspiration and following dreams, though none of it was backed by any ad campaign.

"There are two things behind Microsoft's belief - a corporate vision which says that we will empower every organisation and every individual to achieve more, and a human insight which showed us that people may want to achieve more, but they do not want to spend more time doing it," says Raghuvesh Sarup, director- marketing, Nokia India Sales (a subsidiary of Microsoft Mobile Oy).

According to Sarup, 'Make it Happen' is only a creative expression of empowerment that Microsoft seeks. Internal research has shown that people from tier II, III, IV, and V towns often feel that they are disadvantaged and do not get as many opportunities as people from the metros do. However, Microsoft, as a technology brand, wants to bridge the gap between aspiration and opportunities.

"While Lumia comes with a lot of features, Skype made the best possible fit because research showed us that Indians are more aware of Skype than any other Microsoft offering," Sarup informs.

According to Saksena, for a substantial number of consumers of the Microsoft Lumia (affordable range), in small towns, Skype is fast becoming one of the most relevant feature. A reason for this may be that the country's internet penetration is lower than its cell phone penetration. That said, the videos do show other features available on the phone as well, for example the use of MS Office to make a presentation or OneNote to create a gallery.

The brand is trying to communicate with the 25-year-old, who is fresh into a job. These are the people who have big dreams, but may somehow be afraid to follow them through. But, the challenge is also to make Microsoft Devices a household name, much like Nokia Mobile was.

"The Nokia nest was not built in a day. Just like Nokia, Microsoft also has a large range of products. In different touch-points, the Microsoft name comes across. You can say it is a company-wide effort for a larger branding movement. Microsoft's awareness is quite close to Nokia's. When we launched Lumia 535 under the Microsoft name, many people asked us not to do away with the word 'Nokia'. But, today, the brand name of Microsoft is the second most important reason why people buy that phone. I am sure we can make it a household name as well, with time," adds Sarup.

Does the campaign deliver?

"Indians are more aware of Skype than any other Microsoft offering": Raghuvesh Sarup
"Indians are more aware of Skype than any other Microsoft offering": Raghuvesh Sarup
Sudarshan Banerjee, Utopoeia's co-founder and managing partner, finds the script clichéd and the insight old.

"The denouement of the film is very shoddy. Kangana says she has been asked to convince the girl's parents; she starts by saying she didn't manage that with her own parents & goes on to give no advice that the parents didn't know already. The Skype call seemed like a force-fit, done because they couldn't get the celebrity's dates. Do note 'Creative Visualisation' written in fine print on that section, they didn't even manage an actual Skype call," points out Banerjee.

On whether the focus on Skype can overshadow the brand Lumia itself, he says, "The proposition of 'following your dream' is again part of the collection of clichés. It has Skype & Lumia vying for attention without doing justice to both. The line 'make it happen' seems slapped on at the end."

Pranav Harihar Sharma, freelance filmmaker and former group creative director, Linen Lintas, agrees. He feels that Lumia, in the film, has been overshadowed by Skype. Though he credits the brand with good celebrity usage, the weak script leaves him unimpressed.

"The very beginning - not inspired by real stories but by real dreams - left me confused. If it is real, then at least Microsoft has changed someone's life. If not, then it's just another four-minute ad with nothing new to talk about," Harihar opines.

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