Shreyas Kulkarni

MakeMyTrip tries to arouse wanderlust, urges people to travel in new ad

As states across India ease curbs and people look to travel, the leading online travel company looks to return from a COVID slump with its new campaign.

Albus Dumbledore, the legendary headmaster of Hogwarts School from the 'Harry Potter' book series, once said, “Happiness can be found, even in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light.”

It’s an apt quote in these (COVID) times. It is also applicable to various sectors, especially hospitality, which contributes around 10 per cent to India’s GDP. As per a CNBC-TV18 report in August, the hospitality sector’s revenue loss is estimated at Rs 90,000 crore. It is one of the (if not the) worst-hit sectors during this troubled era.

A report from JLL, a global property consultant, in June said that 60 per cent of the operators it surveyed believed it will take 13-24 months for their portfolio to bounce back to 2019 RevPAR (revenue per available room) levels.

But, there’s always a glimmer of hope. India is right now in 'Unlock 5.0'. Most states have revised their quarantine and travel guidelines, and made it easier for people to travel.

A Mint report on October 5 quoted Dilip Jawalkar, secretary, Uttarakhand Tourism, and CEO, Uttarakhand Tourism Development Board, as saying that hotels across major tourist destinations have received over 80 per cent bookings.

Now, a new minute-long ad by MakeMyTrip (MMT), a leading online travel company, urges people to reawaken the spirit of travel. The video was conceptualised by MagicCircle and features actor Aparshakti Khurana

The ad’s YouTube description reads, “When will the year 2020 end? That's what most of us are thinking, and waiting for. But, should we be giving up on this year? Or, is there a way to safely bring back all the good feelings that we have sorely missed for so long.”

A link takes you to the MakeMyTrip website, where you can choose from a plethora of hotels for an enjoyable staycation.

An email from the brand about the ad read, “… the film is a part of an on-going ‘Life Ka Karo Game On’ campaign. It encourages people to overcome the daily monotony that has seeped into their lives due to the Coronavirus pandemic, and navigate safely into the brighter side of life this festive season.”

The ad is a continuation of the brand’s ‘Game on’ campaign, and an earlier ad featured cricketers AB de Villiers, Virat Kohli, and Yuzvendra Chahal. Please note that MakeMyTrip is the digital sponsor of three Indian Premier League (IPL) teams: Chennai Super Kings, Mumbai Indians and Royal Challengers Bangalore.

We (afaqs!) decided to get a third-party view about the ad. These are the main takeaways from our conversation with three experts.

Edited excerpts:

Naresh Gupta, co-founder and chief strategy officer, Bang in the Middle

Naresh Gupta
Naresh Gupta

It’s a nice, positive ad, which drives the feeling of wanting to step out. What I really wonder is this: is it enough for me to reach out to MMT and start to plan my travel?

While a small amount of travel is back, people are driving down to popular spots, are booking stays, etc., it is still small. I would have wanted the ad to give a far stronger push to the urge to go out and explore.

One of the things that has happened during lockdown is that a lot of the tourist spots have changed. They have become less commercial and more pure (cleaner), almost like they have healed themselves.

Maybe the push could have been to rediscover what the world has gone through, etc. This communication is more feel-good, instead of really allaying fears and killing inertia in people.

Lloyd Mathias, a business strategist, and former Asia marketing head of HP Inc.

Lloyd Mathias
Lloyd Mathias

I think it’s a smart ad that plays on people’s fatigue with the pandemic. Even as COVID rages on, people are slowly trying to get back to their normal lives and gradually piecing their pre-COVID passions together.

So while the lockdown has lifted in phases, it is important to cue consumers about their needs, like holidaying and leisure travel – without taking undue risk. In that regard, this ad does a great job. A gentle reminder about breaking the monotony of work and conference calls, and the joys of holidaying with family.

However, I’m not sure if this ad will immediately allay fears of consumers and get them holidaying immediately. That will be a gradual process. But as a market leader, it is appropriate that MakeMyTrip makes a start, and this is a great step in that direction.

Ananda Ray, creative head, Rediffusion

Ananda Ray
Ananda Ray

I truly enjoyed this ad for several reasons. It doesn't feel like an ad, for one. It's friendly, inviting and natural in the way that it is acted and the dialogue delivered.

Moreover, the camera takes the viewer's place, making us feel that we are in the room. The lack of a cut not only keeps it fluid, but adds emphasis to the feeling of being there. Your eyes follow the character as he speaks and walks about.

But the true genius of the ad, in my opinion, is recreating the feeling of being stuck inside a room. It even denies us the relief of seeing a window, but tempts us with an outdoor shot on the TV screen.

And then… the surprise reveal at the end that all of us have been aching for. Yet, even this big reveal is achieved in such a natural way that it feels real - and achievable. It takes the idea of travel and elevates it into transformation. It sets the trapped viewer free.