For a while now Bata's advertising has been more of an image management than a communication effort. In its latest advert, the brand tries to shed the 'school shoes' and 'mummy's brand' image.
Bata's latest ad film - #ComeAndBeSurprised - is an invitation to visit Bata stores. As the name suggests, there will be a surprise waiting for you there. Yes, you heard it right, a surprise from Bata. The latest ad film gives us a glimpse of the 'surprise' Bata has in store (pun intended) for its consumers.
Bata has roped in film-star Kriti Sanon for their latest 360-degree commercial. In the film, Sanon visits a Bata store (on the brand's invitation), with a pre-conceived, but not a wholly incorrect notion, of Bata's association with the likes of 'school shoes' and then decides that she may just pick up something for her mother while she's there.
During her visit to the store, while browsing the racks, Kriti chances upon a pair of stylish red stilettos. She's pleasantly surprised but nonetheless finds it hard to believe it's a Bata product and thus inquires with the staff, "Yeh Bata hai?" By the end of her shopping spree, she ends up buying twenty pairs of Bata footwear for herself and only two for her mom.
So what's with all the 'surprise' around this rather well-known footwear brand?
If the 'surprise' still hasn't sunk in, allow Anand Narang from Bata India, to help you better understand.
Narang, VP marketing, Bata India Ltd., affirms that Bata is undergoing a major fashion makeover; a total redo over the 'school shoes' and 'mom' image. "The basic objective was to showcase the fashion makeover of Bata and announce our premium Red Label collection," Narang says.
According to Narang, Kriti Sanon's association with Bata was fuelled by the requirement of a celeb who appealed to youth and could narrate her personal relationship with the brand, thereby making it less 'ad-like' and more believable.
"The film starts with Kriti reminiscing about her childhood association with Bata and school shoes. Something that most consumers relate to and as the film progresses, we see her form an altogether new relationship with the brand," Narang further adds.
Not so long ago, in 2017, Bata attempted a similar makeover with its TVC, 'Me.and comfortable with it' for Bata's range of footwear for women. The ad, featuring non-native actors, was also packed with feminine emotions.
So what revived the 'school shoes' narrative in'#ComeAndBeSurprised' in 2018?
Ashish Chakravarty, chief creative officer, Contract Advertising India, the agency that came up with the ad, says, "Bata's recent ads have shown the image of Bata which is very unlikely of the brand. In the ads from 2016-17, there is a solid disconnect between the images in the ad and Bata as a brand. It looks like another Indian brand trying to make statements like a foreign brand with all the foreign models on show etc. There was a gap in the brand perception and the imagery in the ad. Bata wanted something really believable and in line with the brand perception."
Chakravarty informs us that Contract Advertising India took over Bata's account from Ogilvy last year when Bata was bringing about a massive change across all brand ranges. "Indians have a notion that Bata is an Indian brand and hold a certain kind of imagery about the brand. They associate ideas like old styles and school footwear among other things. Given that Bata was undergoing this entire exercise, the brand needed to start over with a certain makeover so that people start to look at it in a different way," Chakravarty says.
Further down the conversation with afaqs!, Chakravarty lets us in on a piece of exclusive info about the ad and selection of the 'Red Label Collection' for the film.
"#ComeAndBeSurprised was actually meant to be a digital film for the digital platform. But it turned out so well that our client, Bata, decided to run it on TV. As for selecting the brand, Bata recently brought out the premium Red Label collection. It is a new designer collection inclined more towards style. They wanted it to be the face of the new stylish Bata," Chakravarty says.
afaqs! turned to industry experts for their take on the TV commercial.
According to, Ashok Dhingra, brand and management consultant, there is nothing spectacular about the ad and it is not award-winning creative work, but it does its job just fine.
"The ad film is simple and effective communication attempting an image makeover of the Bata brand and merchandise. Bata traditionally stood for sturdy, traditional, reliable footwear. The ad, in a simple straight style, communicates that it's different and will surprise you with its new trendy and high-fashion merchandise. It is well made and likeable. I think it should do its job," Dhingra adds.
Titus Upputuru from Dentsu did not falter while disclosing his Bata-connection back from his school-days while reviewing the TVC.
"Back in school, I used to think Bata was a brother of Tata! Only much later, I was pleasantly surprised to know that it wasn't an Indian brand but a Czech brand! It's true, Bata is perceived as a boring school-shoe kind of brand. It's also true that you get pleasantly surprised each time you visit their stores. The film addresses this core issue and brings out the surprise quite well. The choice to show high-end women's shoes to break the perception was a good decision. The casting is good and so is the activation-like reality TV kind of execution", says Upputuru, national creative director, Dentsu Marcom, an advertising agency.