Shreyas Kulkarni

As students continue to reel under 'house arrest', Lenovo positions itself as a 'smart' alternative to their school buddies

The laptop brand's new ads show parents how technology has replaced human interaction for school kids.

“For the first time in around 100 years, kids in schools have some sense of nostalgia,” remarks Neeraj Kanitkar, Taproot Dentsu’s senior creative director.

It’s a punchy statement. One that will make you stop momentarily and think. It is difficult to understand the impact of Coronavirus and the subsequent lockdowns on the little ones, unless you have one at home.

Kanitkar is talking to us about his client Lenovo’s latest campaign for its IdeaPad laptop series. Each of the three ads in the campaign talks about how technology has taken over the role of a school buddy which, until last year, was the domain of a (human) child.

Drifting off in class, intense staring into the textbook while reading, and too much noise when it’s your chance to speak. All of us have faced these at least once in our lives, and that one friend always bailed us out. Kanitkar echoes the same thought when he remarks, “such a friend” makes school life memorable.

Neeraj Kanitkar
Neeraj Kanitkar

He reveals that the Taproot Dentsu team was well-versed with the features of the IdeaPad. The aim, when the team received the brief from Lenovo, was to “humanise it and make it relatable to school-going children and their parents.”

The brief, as per Amit Doshi, Lenovo’s chief marketing officer, was to “communicate, through our campaign, that with Lenovo laptops, you can have stress-free learning.”

The classroom and the way learning takes place has changed forever, Doshi remarks. While it has its pros, there are challenges as well.

“Parents aren’t sure about whether their children are learning. They are unsure about their children being engaged at school in the same way they should be in real life. They are worried about how to manage the increased amount of time their children are spending in front of the screen.”

A couple of months ago, Lenovo had released three ads. They offered parents, who were worried about their children sitting and staring at a device all day long, specific solutions through Lenovo tabs.

Doshi is quick to remark that while the tabs have similar features (to a laptop), they use a different software. “The features in the present campaign are from proprietary software (Smart Learning Solutions).”

Amit Doshi
Amit Doshi

He went on to reveal that when his team brainstormed with Taproot Dentsu on this campaign, “we were clear that we wanted to de-jargonise and humanise the technology because we are talking to parents about children... Weave it in a real-life, slice of life context, instead of making it cold and non-relatable by speaking only about technology.”

Doshi tells us they “can’t solve everything, but we can make it a little bit easier.” It (IdeaPads) can “be an aid to parents and students to be more engaged. That was the brief.”

So, what role did consumers’ demand patterns play in shaping the brief and, ultimately, the campaign?

“We came to the brief after tons of consumer research,” reveals Doshi. He tells us that his team met parents, kids, educators, teachers, and what came out loud and clear were these three challenges:

  • Children are not as engaged as one would like them to be in the classroom.

  • How do you give children tools for better productivity, because the home environment is not always conducive to learning and class participation?

  • Concerns about digital well-being.

Doshi also reveals the simple process of how an idea leads to a brief and then a campaign is executed. It all starts with a consumer-soak exercise. After drawing the observations and insights from them, the brief happens, and then the agency takes it forward.

We feel this campaign, where the IdeaPad is touted as the ideal ‘smart’ friend for school-going children, illustrates the tech journey we’ve made in the past 18-20 months.

Today, almost every household member has an individual device. People are investing in high-quality accessories, such as external web cameras, a mouse with excellent ergonomics, etc., more than ever before.

“What is loud and clear is that no longer can one PC be shared by the family,” remarks Doshi. Children will need a laptop, or tab, depending on their age.

“If there is more than one child in the family, you need more than one device because different classes are on at the same time, and there are other activities too.”

He also tells us that people are investing in accessories for a great experience. “One of the hottest items last year was a webcam, and it still continues to be… people also want noise-cancelling headphones.”

Adding to this is the growth of the tablet category. “It is seeing tremendous growth among those who don’t need the full-tech experience.”

Doshi also mentions that while people are investing in tech more than ever now, there is a sizeable digital divide in India. Some students don’t have access to laptops, some not even to a smartphone, or a quality data connection.

“Our CSR work is primarily focused on tech and education. We are doing everything we can in our capacity to bridge this digital divide,” he signs off.

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