Abid Hussain Barlaskar

RR Kabel mocks Havells in new spot

The brand turns its rival's 'Wires that don't catch fire' Unique Selling Proposition into a Unique Mocking Proposition.

Electrical wires and cables brand, RR Kabel, in its latest campaign - "Akalmand Bano Sahi Chuno" - takes as somewhat opposing stand to Havells, its rival in the space. The brand, in its new ad featuring Akshay Kumar, takes a blatant dig at Havells' marketing USP for its wires i.e. "Wires That Don't Catch Fire".

However, this is no swift action or surprise attack.

RR Kabel mocks Havells in new spot

RR Kabel's latest ad film 'Akalmand Bano Sahi Chuno'Havells has been playing the tune of fireproof wires for quite some time - remember the mother-son ad where the kid crafts a pair of tongs with Havells' electrical wire to handle hot rotis on the flame?

RR Kabel mocks Havells in new spot

Havells Cables - Mother-Son TVC

Last month Havells repeated the same message in a new commercial featuring a sweet tale blooming at a kids' campsite. However, the ad was accompanied by a disclaimer - "Creative representation of the idea that the wire will not catch fire if the temperature is less than 280 degree Celsius and Oxygen density is less than 30 per cent." But this time around, RR Kabel decided to use Havells' message to their advantage.

The RR Kabel ad film is set in the centre of a major household fire caused by a short circuit. But the homeowner is shocked as the mishap occurred despite using 'fireproof' wiring. The chief fire-fighter (Akshay Kumar) is quite amused and informs the victim that fireproof wire does not exist and urges him to choose RR Kabel wires which are fire-resistant and do not spew black fumes.

RR Kabel mocks Havells in new spot

Havells Wires That Don't Catch Fire Ad from August this year

However, the ad is laced with sufficient indication that the original Havells campaign was actually successful and managed to increase sales as the homeowner in RR Kabel's ad was already turned a user and was apparently quite aware of the 'Wires That Don't Catch Fire' USP. Moreover, an opponent selecting it as a vehicle only reaffirms this.

With the festive season just around the corner, the ad seems strategically placed to build awareness in anticipation.

RR Kabel mocks Havells in new spot

RR Kabel's ad film from December last year

Making the most out of the buzz created by the Havells communication, coupled with a short timeframe and then rolling out a campaign with strategic timeliness, speaks to the amount of pressure endured by the brand team and the folks behind the scenes.

afaqs! Spoke to Shishir Sharma, Head of marketing for RR Kabel, to clear the air.

"Of course it is ambush, but we would rather call it a myth buster. There is a myth in the marketplace around this serious, but low-interest category today. In a wire there is the metal conductor and there is the insulation. The insulation is made of PVC (polyvinyl chloride) and PVC, by nature, is combustible. At a certain temperature, it starts propagating fire and emits toxic fumes in the form of black smoke. Such wires will always be catching fire," Sharma says.

So why not the first time when Havells unveiled its first campaign?

"We saw that the myth was growing over the years and there were increasing fire incidents," replies Sharma.

RR Kabel mocks Havells in new spot

Shishir Sharma

Sharma maintains that the campaign is part of the brand's yearly communication which would usually happen mid-year, "... This year it was about busting a myth."

Sharma tells afaqs! that the campaign happened over a period of just one month. However, he maintains that major fire incidents like the Kamala Mills fire, was the main provocation. "We thought that it's time we bust the myths around fire safety and we should be going to the market and communicating the properties of the product and the myth around it," he explains.

Sharma further confirms that upcoming RR Kabel ads will be spun around more fire scenarios and myths.

Sharma adds, "We did not take the usual route of getting it done by the creative agency. The film has been crafted in-house and executed under the direction of Shiven Surendranath from Old School Films, the production house."

RR Kabel mocks Havells in new spot

Christopher Higgins

Christopher Higgins, business head of IdeateLabs, RR Kabel's digital marketing partner, says, "The brand was looking at creating a high impact communication around its core products - smoke-free cables - with the festive season just around the corner. And another message that the brand wanted to put out was that wires do catch fire."

Higgins also states that this is the first time the brand went into bringing in more technical details through its communication, "Unlike previous campaigns, which were more into building brand recognition, this campaign helps people understand that it's not just a brand but also a smart choice. It is a digital-first campaign."

Over to the experts:-

RR Kabel mocks Havells in new spot

Lubna Khan

RR Kabel mocks Havells in new spot

Manish Bhatt

Strategy consultant Lubna Khan maintains that while it is a clever ploy, the ad film has its own flaws. She says, "The ad film's cleverness lies in the fact that it conveys a clear product advantage, especially against an established competitor and makes the consumer think about their wire choices in what is otherwise a low-involvement category. But I do question the deliberate fear-mongering. Using a more positive route to convey the competitive advantage would not only be ethically better, it will also be a more sustainable platform for the brand."

Khan adds, "You can build better, more consistently and gain strength over the long-term through advertising that evokes positive emotions."

Manish Bhatt, founder - Scarecrow M&C Saatchi, maintains that the ad film takes the fun route and delivers technical information, though it is not much of a spoof.

"The brand is trying to educate the consumer about the fact that wires do catch fire and it's a myth-busting ad. The ad does justice to delivering the technical part and explaining it to consumers. However, the tonality is far from the Havells communication. Havells' ads, both old and new, touch the heart. There is no harm in being funny or quirky in delivering the message, but an emotional touch has longer retention. Even the mere mention of the Havells ad reminds me of the story, but this one might not be the same. It might end up being just another ad with a short shelf life," Bhatt says.

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