Suraj Ramnath

When a robot sold us cement...

In its latest commercial Dalmia Cement uses a robot as creative shorthand for high-tech. A look at the effort.

When was the last time you saw an Indian cement ad showcasing its strength through a humanoid robot? Dalmia Bharat Group has recently launched a new TVC for its product Dalmia DSP Cement. The ad has been conceptualised by JWT Kolkata, directed by Vinod P Vijay and produced by Lemon Yellow Sun Films.

When a robot sold us cement...

Dalmia DSP Cement's new TVC

The TVC shows 'D', a humanoid robot, as a constant companion for a kid, in sun or rain throughout his life until he grows up. From his days in the crib to his first baby steps, to adolescence and finally as a grown-up, D plays various roles. At times a teacher, a guardian angel, sometimes a friend and other times just a caregiver. Finally, when the moment arrives, he dons the expert hat and helps the protagonist and his wife choose the right material for their dream home. The film ends when the wife hands over their new-born to D and the voiceover says, "With you forever to build the future. Dalmia DSP Cement, the dhalai expert".

When a robot sold us cement...

Anirban Paul Chowdhury

Talking about the reason behind using a robot in the ad, Anirban Paul Chowdhury, marketing head, Dalmia Cement, says, "We wanted to create a different line of communication in this cluttered cement category. There are lots of established players who are hogging the mind space of the buyer with their age-old advertising and age-old reason to purchase. So, how do we come in and tell people we are different and technically strong? Most players convey the strength of their cement, so for us, it was about how we promote technical superiority. That is what we wanted to say and Dalmia DSP Cement is also packed with 25 benefits. When you say there are so many benefits, it is unheard of in this category; that is how the idea of D was born. Mr D is a dhalai expert. Dhalai is a concrete and the most important part while building a house."

He adds, "Essentially, we are trying to tell people that the 25 benefits that the cement has are part of one character who can do everything for you. D is the image of technical superiority. His presence is to make the science behind the cement more believable to consumers."

The campaign is currently being run in the eastern markets such as Bengal, Bihar, Orissa, and Jharkhand. Dalmia DSP Cement's core TG is male, SEC A, A+, B and B+, targeting age groups from 25-55 years. The brand is doing on-ground activities and is going to promote the ad through 250 theatres in the above-mentioned markets.

Adding about the computer graphics used in the film and the challenge, Chowdhury says, "The CG was done with utmost care so that it doesn't look like a machine. It should look like something that is around you and cares for you, with some emotion. This imagery of the brand, Dalmia DSP, translated into Mr D. We wanted a high-tech agency which has done a lot of work on CG and we were satisfied with No Label (the Poland based graphics agency). We shot this in Poland and we have actually used a human being emoting on behalf of the robot and then we used CG to transform that human into a robot. Whatever running you see done by the robot in the film is done by the human being, an actor."

Talking about the challenge, Arjun Mukherjee, vice president and executive creative director, JWT, Kolkata, says, "To justify the superiority of Dalmia DSP Cement we decided to build on the futuristic platform. However, the challenge was also to give an emotional hook to a technology product. We took extreme care to play up the softer attributes of the robot so that he exudes a certain warmth and makes the entire proposition a lot more believable."

We asked our experts if the use of a robot as creative shorthand for high-tech, works as strategy and does it break the category code?

When a robot sold us cement...

Bikram Bindra

When a robot sold us cement...

Anish Varghese

Bikram Bindra, vice-president and strategic planning head, Grey Group Delhi, says, "Semiotically, for me, the use of the robot as a creative device connotes futuristic, advanced and high-science. It is an interesting device that could break the clutter; the only question in my mind is how well it connects with the category hygiene of strength and endurance. Also, a device like this needs a larger surround, beyond just a TVC, to get established and become a sticky asset for the brand."

Anish Varghese, national creative director, Isobar, says, "I have a particular belief, in the era of AI and AR, being a non-involvement brand, it's a reasonable strategy to get the eyeballs of tech-savvy audiences. I'm not sure it can break the category code; emotions/ fun worked well in this category, Khali's ad is the best example."

Client: Dalmia Bharat Cement

Agency: JWT India

Chief Creative Officer: Senthil Kumar

VP and ECD: Arjun Mukherjee

Copy Supervisor: Anurag Acharya

Client Servicing Team: Ayan Chakraborty, Soumya Chowdhury, Krishnaroop Chakraborty

Production House: Lemon Yellow Sun Films

Director: Vinod P Vijay

CGI: No Label, Poland

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