Shreyas Kulkarni

As food delivery brands go bonkers over speed, CEAT cautions against rash riding

Ogilvy's Rohit Dubey, who wrote the three film campaign, speaks to afaqs! about the tyre brand's advertising burst.

Our biggest need isn’t money. It’s our most intimate universe, our utopia brought to life. When that’s unlikely to happen, we look to individuals who, we believe, can lead us to that land we’ve created.

Literature, in particular, is littered with several examples of individuals, who hold the ability to take something as abstract as utopia and turn it into a reality.

Diana Prince (from Wonder Woman) shows us that being kind and fierce need not be mutually exclusive. Albus Dumbledore (from Harry Potter) makes us believe that one can fight against tyranny with love. Buddha’s teachings give us a sense of hope.

Unfortunately, utopia is a perfect dream, and perfection is not yet an attainable state of being. But it is something CEAT, the leading tyre manufacturing company owned by the RPG Group, had in mind, as is evident in its latest campaign for SecuraDrive range of tyres.

The campaign stars Aamir Khan, who’s dubbed as a ‘perfectionist’ among his fans as well as followers of Indian cinema. In this three-ad campaign, Khan highlights relatable risky road behaviour.

The campaign “talks about a utopian world, where everyone follows traffic rules. However, in reality, roads are full of surprises, and one needs the safety of tyres that offer outstanding braking and impeccable stability,” reads a press release from CEAT.

These ads were written in December last year (2020) for the 2021 Indian Premier League (IPL). But after a few matches earlier this year, the tournament was postponed due to another COVID wave.

Rohit Dubey
Rohit Dubey

“We decided to launch the campaign once the tournament resumed. The films were kept in cold storage and have just seen the light of day,” remarks Rohit Dubey, group creative director, Ogilvy, the agency behind this campaign.

The ‘Switch to SecuraDrive’ campaign highlights three relatable events that can lead, and have led, to accidents. First, bursting firecrackers on the road, especially when India wins a cricket match. Second, dancing as a part of the ‘baraat’ on the streets. And third, rash riding from food delivery executives.

In each of the three ads, Khan plays a different character and it’s on purpose. In his first ad for CEAT SecuraDrive last year, he played a crash test dummy. The campaign was aptly titled ‘Don’t be a dummy’, but as Dubey says, “At first go, people didn’t recognise Aamir. It resembled Aamir, but was he Aamir?”

CEAT told Dubey and his team that they had to show Khan in a new avatar, and wanted to do four films, with each being 20 seconds long.

Ultimately, there were three, instead of four ads, with each being 30 seconds long.

CEAT’s ultimate aim, through this campaign, is to address the behaviour of people. “What needs to change is the way people behave, because accidents can happen on great roads too,” says Dubey, adding that the “streets are filled with idiots.”

No, he’s not calling you or me one, but it’s a nod to CEAT’s old campaign about idiots causing accidents.

What caught our attention the most was the third ad, i.e., rash riding from food delivery executives. It is something that may have started with Domino’s ‘30 minutes or free’ promise, with the Swiggys and Zomatos of the world following suit.

Dubey tells us that his client suggested this insight and it does hold weight.

“Post-COVID, deliveries became the order of the day and it (insight) didn’t come from Domino’s… Thematically, it wasn't far-fetched when one thinks about what all happens on the road.”

Shades of Satyamev Jayate

If you watch the three ads, you will notice that Khan plays a double role in all - as the culprit and one who talks about road safety. It has shades of ‘Satyamev Jayate’ (Khan’s TV show where he brings to light socially relevant issues) all over again.

Dubey agrees that the show’s equity is strongly attached to Khan and the viewers are (subliminally) reminded of it. Ogilvy decided to take the route of irony, i.e., Khan’s double role.

The insights shown in the ad are close to Dubey’s heart because he once “danced on the road with his family as a ‘baraati’, and burst crackers when India won a cricket match in Lucknow.” These insights are a part of all of us, he asserts.

Dancing as a ‘baraati’ means that the infamous ‘naagin’ dance is inevitable and, as per Dubey, so is “yeh desh hai veer jawaano ka” that is in no way related to a wedding procession.

Khan mentions the song in the second ad, but the initial draft of the ad had the notorious ‘Lollypop Lagelu’ song. It didn’t make the cut because the lyrics made for such a tongue-twister. Dubey was initially of the opinion that putting the song in the ad would make it a hit in Bihar and UP.

When Khan heard the script over a video call, he decided to mimic the ‘naagin’ dance, reveals Dubey. It once again proves the irrepressible charm of this dance form.

Turns out that the entire campaign was a box of improvisations. When Khan, the food delivery executive, was rattling off the Navratan Korma thanda hona hai to ho jaye, hum no entry mein nahi ghusenge, it was pretty straightforward. He was then urged to do it in a Haryanvi accent to add more weight to it.

Dubey doesn’t know what the dish (Navratan Korma) looks like. “It's like a person I've never met. That's why I kept it (in the script) because it's such a rich name.”

BK Ayappa, the director (he’s also behind CRED’s IPL campaign), was of the opinion that Khan’s rousing speech should be on the lines of Oscar-winner Mel Gibson’s performance in the movie ‘Braveheart’. That is why, in the ‘baraati’ ad, the horse lifts his forelegs just as Khan finishes his rousing speech.

In another instance, Dubey wrote in the cricket ad, “Chakargini, which is how it is called in UP.” Everyone was left scratching their heads and thought it was the firecracker chakri.

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