Abid Hussain Barlaskar
Advertising

Balaji Wafers pulls a Fogg; makes 'bina gas wala chips' claim

Balaji Wafers' new campaign featuring Ayushmann Khurrana suggests that the brand is providing more chips per pack compared to its much larger rivals like PepsiCo and ITC.

The latest ads from Balaji Wafers, the Gujarat-based snack brand, builds up on a long-standing consumer pain-point, that of their favourite chips companies selling them air. The ads feature actor Ayushmann Khurrana, whom the brand roped in earlier this year as its first-ever endorser.

Packaged chips brands, not just in India but globally have been accused by consumers of selling more air and less contents. So much so that the internet is rife with conversations and memes around the theme. The crown of the 'usual suspect' has been placed on Lay's (look up 'chips selling air' on Google images). Balaji Wafers' campaign suggest that the brand is providing more chips in relation to its much larger rivals like PepsiCo and ITC. Jay Sachdev, manager, marketing, Balaji Wafers in a previous interview told afaqs!, "Our brand aims to provide good quality at a good price — value for money. We believe in selling a product worth Rs 15 at Rs 10." The new communication ties back to Sachdev's comment.

Without much digging around, the 'hawa' factor leads us to another brand and its commercials which were launched in 2011. Fogg deodorants, the brand was launched with a proposition that its cans contained no gas unlike others in its category. The ads too highlighted the fact that Fogg provided a higher number of sprays than its rivals.

There is a 'Bala' moment (the new movie starring a bald Ayushman Khurrana) too in one of the new ads. The 'airport' ad features a bald man whose wig is blown away by the gush of air from a pack of chips. The presence of Ayushmann Khurrana and the bald man in the same frame is suspicious.

Also, the dual role of Khurrana seems like the side by side presence of Balaji Wafers and its rivals. However, the 'hawa' proposition was initiated with a previous campaign which did not have Khurrana as its face. The new campaign has been crafted by Publicis Beehive and is active on the print, TV, digital and OOH mediums.

Shyamashree D’Mello, executive creative director and head of creative services – Publicis Beehive says, "Balaji Wafers offering the additional grammage was the story that the brand wanted to talk about. The 'kam hawa, wafer zyada' proposition was the agency's way of saying it. During the product testing of rival brands, we realised that the packs had very few wafers inside them despite having bigger packs. This led to the previous campaign which was about 'hawa udana' (having an air). We wanted to test if the proposition will be well received by the market. We saw some traction and we took it forward by making the brand look a lot more competitive and making the communication a lot more entertaining. To make it bigger, we needed an actor who could pull it off."

Shyamashree D’Mello
Shyamashree D’Mello

"When we presented the idea to a boardroom full of people including the owners and employees of the company, we could tell that they themselves were excited about telling the story. We knew that once we get Ayushmann (Khurrana) and a good director who would add quirks to the story, it was going to be a fun place to be in," D’Mello adds.

Industry speak:

KV Sridhar, founder and CCO of Hyper Collective (a cross-disciplinary innovations company), says, "There could be scientific reason behind filling chips packs with air but the narrative of a brand claiming to offer less air and more chips seems very reasonable as people want more chips per rupee. But by the nature of Balaji's younger, smaller and regional nature in comparison to its bigger rivals, the communication makes sense. People will appreciate it. Brands have used such narratives and grown huge in the past, for example the deo brand Fogg is built on the 'no-gas' proposition."

KV Sridhar 'Pops'
KV Sridhar 'Pops'

Sridhar adds that the brand also needs an USP, something to differentiate and ride on. "A brand's positioning is all about why it is a better alternative. It is a very smart thing, the brand will gain more awareness and believers of rivals will give it a try. In such a communication, it's not important who has more/less air but who said it in the most memorable manner," he explains.

Sridhar Ramanujam, brand consultant and founder of Brand-comm says, "In a category like chips, it is really important just to get the brand name across as it is a low-involvement product. It is important for consumers to just remember that there is a brand called Balaji. Such a communication works in this case."

Ramanujam Sridhar
Ramanujam Sridhar

Ramanujam feels that the presence of Ayushmann Khurrana in the ads lacks purpose and the situations could have been a bit more dramatic. He mentions that the brand image of players like Lay's and Bingo are too strong to be moved by such a communication alone. "It would require something more substantial. People will notice the brand, but is it reason enough for consumers to switch to the brand? It is a food product and taste is a major parameter. So, what's important here is if the taste is equal to rivals if not better," he adds.

Tarun Singh Chauhan
Tarun Singh Chauhan

"Superb insight, consumer pain-point addressed, without risk, with fun execution," that's how Tarun Singh Chauhan, brand consultant and founder, TSC consulting defines the campaign. "The execution is quite nice and matches the category. Although it seems like a lift off from Fogg ads, I am willing to live with it. The pain-point is a truth since we've had instances of fewer wafers in a pack of chips from big brands," Chauhan adds.

Saurabh Mathur, head, strategy and planning, VMLY&R India says, "There have been some pretty epic battles between brands and some of them were brilliant. Think McDonald's vs Burger King, BMW vs Jaguar vs Mercedes Benz, Apple vs Samsung and of course, Pepsi Vs Coca Cola. While some of them sustained over a longer period, brands were quick to move on to their primary stakeholder – their customer."

Saurabh Mathur
Saurabh Mathur

"I don’t see this as a long term strategy for Balaji unless this was meant to be a humorous distraction in the ‘chip wars’. What they could gain from this approach is a temporary reinforcement of their proposition which is one of ‘value’. Beyond that, they should use a celebrity like Ayushmann (Khurrana) to help build the long term equity of the brand with their core audience," Mathur signs off.