Delhi's air pollution crisis shows no signs of stopping anytime soon. The Air Quality Index (AQI) levels measured close to 271 on Wednesday, reported India Today even as the odd-even scheme has shown signs of improving the air quality in the region. Brands are using the opportunity to make their voices heard during this crisis and the latest brand to do so, is Honeywell.
Honeywell took out a full page ad on the front page of the South Delhi edition of a leading English daily to highlight their air purifiers. The ad features brand ambassador Kareena Kapoor and addresses the issue of indoor pollution, calling indoor air 'as pollluted' as the air outdoors. What struck us is the visual aspect of it. Only the copy makes a reference to pollution, but apart from the wisps of grey smoke, there is no reference to pollution in the way that Kareena Kapoor presents herself in the ad.
Robby Mathew, national creative director — Interface Communications agrees that there seems to be a disconnect between the copy and how Kapoor is positioned in the visual part of the ad. “Something is definitely off here. I’m reminded of a Blue Star air purifier campaign from two years ago. It was on the same subject but in that case, it had visuals such as a car spewing smoke inside a house and a public urinal inside a house — they used those as metaphors for indoor pollution,” Mathew remembers.
However, he does point out that the pollution crisis in Delhi seems nowhere close to ending and is therefore a good time for brands to talk about air pollution and suggest solutions. “Anxious customers are actively looking for solutions and the brands with the most relevant and distinctive proposition will cut through the clutter and win,” he says.
While discussing the medium that the company has used for the advertisement, he says that although the intent is right the ad could have given more information to bring alive the problem, or even the unique solution that the brand is offering. “Personally I don’t dispute them using the print medium. It is definitely reaching the core target audience. I have no idea about the media strategy of the brand, but with a celebrity on board I would safely assume that there will be TV and digital campaigns too in the future,” says Mathew.
Priya Gurnani, senior creative director, Lowe, Bengaluru, points out that like most celebrity ads, this one also uses the celebrity more like a model rather than as an intrinsic part of the story. “The take out expectancy being if a celebrity uses it in her home/endorsing it then the product must be good. If Kareena was shown dropping a face mask or sitting in between people wearing the face mask at home. There would still be some connect between copy and the visual,” she says.
Gurnani opines that this particular ad seems more opportunistic and a hence a little frivolous. “Some other brands such as Uber are using their brand to find various solutions for the issue as a concerned organisation, which is part of our society. Using an issue of serious problem to sell a couple more units of your brand reflects not only badly but reduces the brand value as it fails to empathise and actively be a part in the solution process,” she states.
Irrespective of medium used, she feels the reach of the ad would have stayed the same. “The reach would have been the same if this campaign ran on digital so I am really not sure why they used print. For the impact and to make a statement, I guess,” she signs off.