N. Shatrujeet

Toshiba: Dramatic image-driving

The three-commercial campaign for Toshiba’s projection TV brand, Dramatic Theatre, is an attempt to pitch Toshiba at the top-end and create quality perception

Slouched on a couch, a man is idly surfing channels. Suddenly, something on TV catches his eye, and he sits up and leans forward, interested. A shot of the television shows a woman dropping her bathrobe to step into the shower. Open-mouthed, the man stares at the sight of the shapely legs. On TV, the woman's hand reaches for the faucet, and warm water gushes from the shower. The man's eyes light up in anticipation… but suddenly the glasses he's wearing cloud over with condensed steam, obscuring his view. He hurriedly wipes the film of moisture off with his fingers and eagerly stares at the screen. The shower spews more warm water, and a moment later, his glasses go opaque again. Irritated, he plucks them off his nose and is about to wipe them on the T-shirt he's wearing, when the impossibility of the situation thing hits home. ‘The power of HyperPro picture. Toshiba. Dramatic Theatre,' the voiceover purrs.

The shot of a typical airport waiting lounge, more or less empty, save one traveler dozing in one of the seats. In the foreground, a television shows someone dumping a piece of burning paper into a dustbin. The burning paper ignites more papers in the bin, and soon there is a roaring inferno on TV. Suddenly, alarm bells go off in the lounge and the sprinklers turn on, drenching the gent who's asleep. The man snaps awake, picks his bags and dashes out of the lounge… The voiceover talks about HyperPro.

These are two ads of the three-commercial campaign for Toshiba's projection TV brand, Dramatic Theatre (the third ad is about a woman shedding tears as onions are diced - on a cookery show on TV). The commercials, created by Quadrant Communications, broke over the weekend, and are to be followed by a print campaign.

This is the first time that Toshiba, since its entry into the Indian CTV market in 2001, has commissioned a made-for-India television campaign for Dramatic Theatre (it briefly ran a foreign commercial for the brand, which largely went unnoticed). For that matter, this is the first time that Toshiba has put out Indian commercials for any of its CTV offerings in this country. This, clubbed with the fact that its first Indian TVCs are for the ‘ultra-niche' Dramatic Theatre, can be quite confounding. Here's why.

Toshiba retails an entire range of CTVs locally, starting with the bread-and-butter regulars (20- and 21-inch TVs). It also offers 21-inch and 29-inch flat screens, and the Dramatic Theatre (in multiple screen sizes). Yet, oddly enough, Toshiba's commercials sell high-end projection TVs - which bear price tags of Rs 1.6 lakh upwards - and not TV sets that drive volumes. Looks funny, yes, but there is a purpose to all this.

"Internationally, Toshiba operates at the high-end of the market, given the quality of its offerings," KS Gopal, executive creative director, Quadrant Communications, explains. "Toshiba is a big player in large screens and projection TVs - in fact, Toshiba's strength is in projection TVs. So the communication objective here was to position Toshiba as a top-of-the-line player in India."

Reasons for that are not hard to find. For one, Toshiba's future in this country is intimately linked to the high-end segment. Flat screens - which broadly mark the beginning of the high-end in CTVs - is the fastest-growing segment in the domestic CTV market, which is expected to touch 6-million-units in 2003. In fact, despite still being the biggest segment by far, the share of regular screens has been dipping continuously and currently stands at 70 per cent. Flats, in comparison, constitute 25 per cent of the market (large screens and other niche products make up the remaining 5 per cent). But the telling figures pertain to annual growth - in volume terms, flats are growing at roughly 30 per cent, against the industry standard of 10-to-12 per cent. "As the market matures, upgrades will happen more frequently, and flats and larger screens will grow," observes Arjun Sen, client services director, Quadrant Communications. "Already, flats are seen as next-generation viewing, and volumes have gone up with prices of flats coming down."

With flat screens flying, it does make sense to plug the top-end. But why the extreme top and why not flats, it might be argued. "Initially, we did plan for communication on Toshiba's flats," Gopal reveals. "But then, flats was already a cluttered segment vis-à-vis advertising, whereas projection TVs are not highly advertised here. We figured why not move up the ladder a bit and advertise the projection TV rather than the flat. That way, we'd establish Toshiba in the top-end."

Establish Toshiba at the top-end. Therein hangs the tale. As far as most Indian consumers are concerned, traditionally, one name gets equated with high quality in televisions - Sony. Certainly in image and aspiration terms, at least. Despite its international pedigree, being a new entrant in India, Toshiba does not enjoy that luxury. "The reason we are focusing on the top-end is because, we believe, by pushing the highest-end product and communicating technological expertise, we will create imagery that works in pushing Toshiba's volume-drivers too," says Sen. Consolidate at the top, create quality perception and get volumes from lower price-points. Trickle-down effect. The idea, clearly, is to place Toshiba on par with Sony, perception-wise. "It's an attempt at packaging Toshiba by giving it a personality," is how Sen puts it.

By no means does all this imply that these commercials are merely selling Toshiba's technological capabilities to the mass-based consumer. "Dramatic Theatre targets the SEC A consumer, especially the more discerning type," Sen points out. "Someone who understands the benefits of high-end technology and will pay for it." (Also those who don't, but will fall for the price tag, nonetheless.)

Interestingly, both Sen and Gopal vouch for Dramatic Theatre's picture quality. "Some people believe that the picture quality suffers on a projection TV due to excessive pixelation, but Toshiba's proprietary HyperPro technology actually prevents that," Gopal insists. In fact, the first campaign for the brand (the print campaign from 2001) focused specifically on picture quality by talking about how Dramatic Theatre captured every little detail. So you had the ‘camouflaged owl', the ‘camouflaged soldier'…

The new set of commercials stems from there, in a way. "Picture quality is something that everyone has spoken about, so we wanted to see what we could do different," says Gopal. "We had positioned Toshiba on details (‘details that would surprise you'), so we thought why not push this a bit by a dramatization of details. Suggest lifelike detail by showing the TVs effect on people watching TV. It's like actually being there inside the TV." He reveals that the three scripts were created at different points of time. "It's been a long journey from the time the first scripts were presented. I must thank Arjun and Noshir (Desai) for championing this, and Abhinay (Deo) for keeping the films simpler than we could have imagined." Gopal also admits that the campaign "just happened, although once we had the first scripts, we knew this was a very campaignable idea".

Yes, it is. Take the three commercials, for instance. Two are about the television's effect on people. The third is the TV's effect on something as inanimate as a sprinkler system installed in an airport. And in the print campaign, there is shot of…

No. Let's not spoil the party just yet.

Agency : Quadrant Communications, Mumbai

The Team :

Creative : KS Gopal, Ashutosh Karkhanis (‘onion' and ‘shower'), Shaji Madhavan, Sandeep Poyekar (‘sprinkler')

Account Management : Arjun Sen, Noshir Desai

Filmmaker : Abhinay Deo

Production House : Ramesh Deo Films

© 2003 agencyfaqs!

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