Xiaomi's new ads starring Ranveer Singh tap into humour to drive the message of the phone's main feature across.
Xiaomi wants its users to take 'note' of certain features in their recently released Redmi Note 7 Pro with their new 'Note Kiya Jaye' campaign. The campaign was conceptualised by Xiaomi's in-house brand marketing team and it features brand ambassador Ranveer Singh using the new Redmi Note 7 Pro in situations that try to be comical while also highlighting the phone's 48MP camera and its zoom-in feature.
The campaign has Ranveer playing the role of a priest in a school in one film and a hostel dweller in another. But it's the tone of one the films that got our attention. The ad in the hostel has him using the camera's 48MP camera to show his two enamoured roommates that their neighbour with long hair is, in fact, a man and not a woman, as they believed. In 2019, when most brands are trying to emphasise on how 'woke' they are and stand for gender equality and women's rights, this could appear to some as a step backwards. We spoke to Karan Shroff, head of brand marketing, Xiaomi India, to understand the campaign better, including the insights that it was based on.
Regarding the ad with the priest, Shroff mentioned that he played cricket in school and his image of priests was based on the insight of what he had seen while traveling to other schools for matches. He admitted that he admired their discipline and the way they carried themselves; that is what he wanted to come through. He also mentioned that despite the strictness, they have a fun side to them as well, which is what he wanted to bring out in the campaign.
It is the second film that could, perhaps, be considered "controversial", given that it showcases two young boys ogling at who they believe is a young girl drying her hair. We asked Shroff why the ad chose that tone in 2019, especially since earlier this year, many women took to social media as a part of the #MeToo movement to discuss instances of harassment - both at the workplace and beyond. He replies, saying, "We are sensitive about gender and culture and we wanted the ad to highlight the power of the phone's camera. We've portrayed it, such that it looks like the boys in the hostel are in love with the girl." He further emphasised that the tone of this campaign was meant to be humorous.
"We sought inspiration from popular local insights such as the - Duur se Dekha vs. Paas Jaa Ke Dekha - reference which implies how things may appear to be a certain way from afar and on closer inspection, they turn out to be different, thereby, building a familiar insight for consumers," he explains.
We asked Priya Gurnani, ECD, Publicis Bangalore, to review the ad for us. She states, "I love that the product feature was a part of the storytelling; that was pretty intelligent. It ensures you will not forget it. Basically, Xiaomi knows exactly why they're selling me this phone."
She did, however, mention that it seemed like the humour was trying too hard. "These are the jokes that I used to listen to when I was in school - and I'm 35. The quality of humour was too bad. Ranveer Singh tried to save it with his acting, but couldn't. The humour fell absolutely flat. Making someone laugh is the most difficult thing to do in advertising and making someone cry is the easiest thing to do. I'm not against slapstick humour, but I think the quality of humour could've uplifted the ad a bit."
We asked her what she thought of the ad film with the hostel dweller, mentioning that using a phone camera to zoom in on a person can be perceived as harassment. She replied, "The principal spying on the student is not as offensive as the two boys spying on a lady. I personally take it with a pinch of salt. This isn't to undermine the importance of the #MeToo movement. It's an important initiative. We have to be aware of what we're putting out because people pick up on it subconsciously."
She emphasised that it was important to ask - "Am I taking this too seriously?" - She took the example of Ranbir Kapoor's recent ad with Asian Paints.
"Does the ad mean that as a brand, you're laughing at your own country? I don't think so. These are really sensitive points at the end of the day," she signs off.