Aakriti Shrivastava

"Social Media adds to the relevance of phone cameras": Solomon Wheeler, Lava

Lava International has launched a multimedia ad campaign for its camera-first phone, Lava Pixel V2. Why is the camera feature on smartphones becoming so popular? We explore.

Increasingly, pixels are driving smartphone purchases. Taking note of this, Lava has launched a multimedia campaign focussing on the camera feature of its recently released Lava Pixel V2 phone. Second in the Pixel range of Android phones, the product promises a superior camera quality, which is also its USP. To reiterate this point, the brand has roped in ace photographer Subi Samuel.

Samuel is seen clicking extraordinary shots with the Pixel V2, showing off the camera quality and features of the phone. The ad has been conceptualised by Shop Advertising. It is noteworthy that, recently, the Samsung Galaxy A8 ad featured professional photographer Atul Kasbekar.

"Social Media adds to the relevance of phone cameras": Solomon Wheeler, Lava
"Social Media adds to the relevance of phone cameras": Solomon Wheeler, Lava
Talking about the increased importance of camera and the introduction of camera-first phones, Solomon Wheeler, vice president and head - marketing & communication, Lava International, says, "There was a time when people were moving around with bulky cameras on planned occasions. Today, we don't plan as much, but capture life as it happens. This is why the phone camera has become important." He adds, "Social media platforms allow consumers to express themselves, and as people become more and more social, the importance only increases."

According to an international Comtech study done in 2014, the quality of a smartphone's camera is the third most important consideration for phone buyers, trailing only 4G/LTE capability and reliability/durability.

The brand's core TG is consumers in the 15-34 age group, with the median at 24-25, someone at their first job, looking to do more professionally and personally. When asked if age plays a role in the sale of camera-first phones, Wheeler says that it is not a function of age, but a matter of interest. "The smartphone is a very personal device and people will only buy what caters to their specific requirements, be it camera, gaming or business," he observes.

On the association of Samuel with the brand, he says, "We wanted a partner who understands photography and also has the right credentials. Besides, he is very design oriented, much like the brand."

The campaign will be played extensively on television, mostly on sports and movie channels. The brand will also use digital and cinema mediums.

Brand Lava

Even after foraying into the smartphone category, the brand continues to position itself as 'affordable'. The company has a range of feature phones, smartphones and tablets in the Rs. 1000 to Rs. 12,000 price bracket. "Create possibilities' is our corporate philosophy and, for us, that means making valuable, aspirational technologies accessible," Wheeler states.

A large chunk of the company's sales comes from tier II and III cities, more than tier I. The most popular price range of the brand is Rs. 6000 - Rs. 9000. This range is also highly competitive with international brands launching products in the bracket. The Pixel V2 is priced at Rs. 10,750.

The company spends more than Rs. 200 crore on advertising, annually. Lava has also recently established an assembling unit in India, with manufacturing being the next big goal.

Out of the overall mobile phone market in India, 35-40 per cent comprises smartphones which is steadily growing. Wheeler believes that though the feature phone segment is shrinking, by when the smartphone segment can overtake it is a function of how the country's economy evolves.

Does it click?

"Social Media adds to the relevance of phone cameras": Solomon Wheeler, Lava
Saurabh Uboweja, CEO & chief brand strategist, Brands of Desire, believes that the campaign is believable and, consequently, pulls down the target's defensive barriers demonstrating the brand's maturity.

He feels that the camera is an important tool of the phone, following calls and messages. "I would say it is a good strategy from Lava after iPhone 6 successfully used photography as a feature in their campaigns; the advantage being they are in the mass premium category," he adds.

On getting a professional photographer on board for the campaign, Uboweja notes that since Samuel isn't popular among the masses, he stands to gain from the campaign, more than Lava. "In a way, it is good that he isn't very famous as that would take away the attention from the phone," he adds.

"Social Media adds to the relevance of phone cameras": Solomon Wheeler, Lava
Spandan Mishra, head, strategic planning, Rediffusion Y&R, comments, "Prosumer-based endorsements are a done thing in the tech/auto category. However, to use a photographer with the 'shots are everywhere, if you're ready' premise is very obvious. That's why phones went 'camera tech' in the first place; people go places and shoot with their phones."

The idea of highlighting multiple features is passé, Mishra notes. "It's a fairly clear-cut single benefit story, whether it is Slim (Canvas), Style (Intex), Camera (iPhone) or Instant Recharge (Samsung)," he adds.

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