Shreyas Kulkarni

Panasonic AC takes on Covid induced 'spray culture'; tells us to "chill" instead

Cross segment rivalry plays out in an AC ad that mocks recently formed disinfection habits.

The COVID-19 pandemic has altered our sensibilities forever. Today, we’re more concerned about our health and safety than ever before.

Brands know this and, therefore, have released new products, or diversified their offerings. From fabrics and mattresses, to sanitisers and disinfectants, all claim to keep us safe and protect us from viruses, germs and bacteria, with the 99 per cent claim being a constant.

Panasonic AC takes on Covid induced 'spray culture'; tells us to "chill" instead

Panasonic, an electronics major, has joined the fray with its new range of air conditioners (ACs) under the HU series. These ACs come enabled with “nanoe™X technology, which releases hydroxyl radicals contained in water.” It means that they are capable of “inhibiting bacteria and viruses, including 99.99 per cent of the adhered novel Coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2).”

While most people try to take precautions outside (yes, there are a few fools who don’t), such products claim to keep us safe and healthy indoors too. To communicate the benefits of Panasonic ACs, Wunderman Thompson has released a 20-second spot.

Shirish Agarwal, head, brand and marketing communication, Panasonic India, said, “A safe and healthy interior environment is the basic requirement of today’s consumer. Keeping that in mind, #MeetTheFuture campaign has been designed to accentuate the value proposition of our ACs, i.e., health, comfort, design and durability. Keeping this at the core, the campaign captures those essential slice-of-life moments that are relatable and are relevant to ensure a higher engagement and a better connect with our audience.”

Joy Chauhan – SVP and managing partner, Wunderman Thompson, Delhi, added, “The global COVID crisis has dominated headlines, and brought back everyone’s attention to personal health and hygiene. Consumers are actively seeking products and solutions that can help them stay protected.”

“As people spend more time in their homes, Panasonic has been working on bringing cutting edge technology to consumer goods. It aims to turn homes into comfortable sanctuaries, allowing consumers to feel safe, protected and healthy.”

“This is truly the pinnacle of development in consumer goods tech and Wunderman Thompson is proud to partner the growth of brand Panasonic with communication solutions for a new market of young, savvy consumers.”

But when you see the ad, you will notice the use of the ‘bua’ trope. The frantic ‘bua’ sprays a disinfectant on everyone and everything; a valid precaution we all must emulate, despite all these months into the pandemic. But the ad mocks the ‘bua’ and tells her to chill because the AC is taking care of our health.

Not only does the spot pit ACs against disinfectant/sanitiser sprays, but it also mocks a valid precaution… We were a bit surprised by it. So, we asked three experts about it.

Ananda Ray, creative head, Rediffusion

Ananda Ray
Ananda Ray

A product not related to the health industry, suggesting that one of its features can replace, or even surpass, a product directly related to the health industry is unethical, inappropriate, irresponsible and, dare I say, potentially dangerous.

Moreover, the communication tries to hoodwink the viewer with an illogical parallel. Contaminated air and surfaces are very different in significant ways, and a possible solution for one very likely does not solve the other.

Lloyd Mathias, former Asia Pacific marketing head of HP Inc.

Lloyd Mathias
Lloyd Mathias

I think it’s a smart ad that nicely plays on people's concern with the spread of the virus. So by humorously showing a paranoid 'bua ji' spraying everything in sight, the ad makes a point that Panasonic ACs help purify the air, getting rid of all impurities. It addresses the issue of keeping home's safe during the pandemic. Clever, topical and nice touch of humour – with an over the top 'bua ji'.

Chraneeta Mann, co-founder, The Mob, a Gurgaon-based communications agency

Chraneeta Mann
Chraneeta Mann

It's a topically relevant subject for sure, and definitely plays on the insight of 'Corona fatigue' and everyone's wish to get back to some sense of normal, or manage living with Coronavirus as part of their world, but I would say that one needs to be a little careful about the message sent out, especially in a pandemic that changes course often.

There is a thin line between 'reducing odds of infection' or 'no more need for precautions'. The question is that would it really be correct to encourage people to let their guard down at a time when they really need to be asked to continue playing their role in stopping the spread?

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