Benita Chacko

Authenticity first: Why iD Fresh Food is seeking grandmas' approval for its 'TransparenSee'

Saritha Rajagopal, creative director of the fresh food brand tells us how it celebrated World Idli Day 2024 with the senior women.

As part of its annual TransparenSee initiative to celebrate World Idli Day, iD Fresh Food recently unveiled its latest campaign titled Approved By Grandmothers. The company welcomed five grandmothers from diverse backgrounds to its idli and dosa batter factory in Anekal, Karnataka to evaluate iD’s production process firsthand and grant their seal of approval to the brand.

In its third edition now, this year’s TransparenSee film shows the grandmothers observing every aspect of the batter-making process, from the soaking and grinding stages to the final packaging of the batter. It also has an audio recording of the conversation between PC Musthafa, global CEO, and GLN Murthy, chief manufacturing officer, discussing the former’s unavailability for this year’s campaign. Saritha Rajagopal, creative director, iD Fresh Food, says this was the starting point for this year’s campaign.

In the last two editions of the TransparenSee campaign, iD Fresh Food has been live-streaming its production process with Musthafa addressing the consumers. However, this year due to his pre-scheduled travel plans, he was unavailable to do it. That left the iD team in a fix. Yet, they did not want to give up on the campaign and looked for a replacement who could be a similar voice of authority. And that’s when they decided to rope in grandmothers.

“We were determined to uphold our commitment to transparency. We brainstormed and realised the perfect spokesperson to continue our message of authenticity and trust were grandmothers. With their traditional recipes and firsthand experience in making home-cooked meals, they embody the values we stand for. Bringing grandmothers into the fold felt like a natural fit, seamlessly aligning with our ethos of trust and authenticity. Ultimately it led us to a creative solution that reinforced our brand's core values,” says Saritha. 

Saritha has over two decades experience of working in ad agencies, including DDB Mudra Group and McCann Erickson. She joined the food group’s in-house advertising team as the creative director in 2022. This ad was created in-house by Saritha’s team, but the idea was the brainchild of its former agency People Design & Communication. 

The film is presented in a documentary format, with montages of the production process and the grandmothers sharing their thoughts on it coming together. Saritha says they chose this format to bring out the true essence of the campaign- authenticity. 

“More than interesting, we want to keep TransparenSee Ad as an authentic campaign. We want to prioritise transparency and honesty in our approach. We wanted to allow the grandmothers to speak candidly to the camera without scripted dialogues. Even the scenes with Murthy and the team discussing were unforced and genuine, reflecting our commitment to transparency,” she shares.

More than interesting, we want to keep TransparenSee Ad as an authentic campaign. We want to prioritise transparency and honesty in our approach.
Saritha Rajagopal, creative director, iD Fresh Food

To keep it authentic, the brand was clear that instead of using actors it would seek out real grandmothers who have experience of making batter at home. Drawing from their personal networks and collaborating with its research agency, it aimed to include a diverse range of voices, particularly from South India where the product is a staple. 

While based in Bengaluru, it expanded its search to include grandmothers from various South Indian states, ensuring a breadth of perspectives and approaches to batter-making. It ensured linguistic diversity in its selection process and selected women speaking different mother tongues. However, it accommodated their language preferences to ensure comfort and authenticity in their presentations. For example, although one of the grandmothers Meena is Malayali, she’s also fluent in Tamil. But we see her speaking mostly in English, a language she’s comfortable in. Similarly, Girija, who speaks in Tamil in the film is originally Telugu-speaking.

Saritha Rajagopal, creative director, iD Fresh Food
Saritha Rajagopal, creative director, iD Fresh Food

What shines through the film is the confidence and comfort of the senior women in front of the camera. They seem completely at home in the factory. Saritha says while the women were naturally confident and not camera shy, it also helped that the team put in effort to ensure their comfort. Ahead of the shoot, they organised a Zoom call to acquaint them with each other and their team, fostering a sense of familiarity. Given their age and the remote location of the factory in Anekal, they also prioritised the well-being of the grandmothers throughout the shoot. There was a doctor on standby.

“Upon arrival, we began with a tour of the factory to ease them into the experience. Murthy briefed them before guiding them through each zone. After capturing initial reactions, we engaged them in a candid conversation about their impressions and experiences. While we facilitated the discussion with some prompts, their responses were genuine and unscripted. Since this is new for them we had to take some retakes, but we were mindful of their age and any potential fatigue,” she adds.

The TransparenSee campaign constitutes a significant portion of the brand’s marketing budget for Q1. The campaign will be primarily featured on digital platforms, especially OTT and social media. YouTube, in particular, will be a key platform for it. Though the brand has a presence in international markets, including UAE, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia, this campaign is targeted only to iD’s domestic markets. However, the brand also plans to livestream from its factory in Ajman, UAE, next. 

iD Fresh Food opened an 80,000 square feet plant in Anekal in Karnataka in 2021. Set up at an investment of Rs 40 crore, it is said to be the world's largest idli and dosa batter factory. Marking the first anniversary celebration of the Giant Home Kitchen, the food company launched a livestreaming campaign on World Idli Day (March 30) in 2022 whereby viewers from across the world could see iD's manufacturing process for five days.

Grandmoms with GLN Murthy
Grandmoms with GLN Murthy

In 2023, it conducted the second season with an hour-long, real-time, no-filters live streaming. Musthafa, along with the chief manufacturing officer, GLN Murthy, also conducted a live Q&A session allowing. Viewers not only had the opportunity to witness the making of the batter but could also ask their questions.

“Our primary focus is on strengthening our position within India. We're prioritising building equity and brand salience, particularly in markets like Delhi where we recently established a factory. We believe it's essential to first establish trust and credibility within India before expanding further internationally. Therefore, our current strategy is to concentrate our efforts and investments in key Indian markets before exploring larger international opportunities,” she says.

Our primary focus is on strengthening our position within India. We're prioritising building equity and brand salience, particularly in markets like Delhi where we recently established a factory.
Saritha Rajagopal, creative director, iD Fresh Food

Moreover, packaged foods are more prevalent in international markets, where buying batter and parottas off the shelf is common, especially among those craving home-cooked meals. “However, in India, the challenge lies in educating consumers about this alternative option and persuading them to embrace it instead of labour-intensive methods,” she adds.

Transparency and authenticity are integral to the DNA of the brand and this is not limited to the World Idli Day campaign alone. The brand welcomes people to the factory all year round. It has been opening its doors to educational institutions for over a year now, with visits scheduled twice a month. However, keeping hygiene standards in mind, iD Fresh Food tailors the tour based on group sizes and age demographics. In fact, at the end of the ad film, the company also shares its contact details to urge people to visit the factory. 

Explaining why these are so integral to the brand, Saritha says the brand was founded on the principle of providing packaged batter without any additives and mirroring the homemade process. Additionally, batter is a staple in South Indian households, consumed daily. It aims to alleviate any guilt associated with choosing packaged food by assuring consumers that the products are as good as homemade. 

“There is no way we are going to add anything in this so that business does better, like increasing the shelf life with preservatives. It's essential for us to maintain this purity, ensuring consumers have complete confidence in what they're serving their families. This commitment extends beyond batter to all iD Fresh Food products, as we advocate for mindful consumption and encourage consumers to scrutinise ingredient lists. Ultimately, our dedication to transparency stems from our desire to earn and maintain consumer trust. We're willing to go to great lengths, such as opening our factory doors, to uphold this value. Trust is at the core of everything we do,” she reiterates.

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