Ananya Pathak

“The film was an experiment”: Swati Rathi, Godrej Appliances, on first 'zero' budget ad

The brand’s new spot features employees in their homes. The marketing head talks about behind the screen scenes and the execution of the ad.

Amidst COVID-19 lockdown, household chores have grown manifold, with no help at hand. As women continue to do their bit, the good news is that more men now are stepping up to their role as equal homemakers. And this is exactly what Godrej Appliances has based its latest communication on.

Scripted together by the brand and WATConsult, a digital marketing agency, the video features employees of Godrej Appliances in their respective homes - sharing the daily chores. The film captures multiple slice of life shots, which were later stitched together to depict ‘life during lockdown’.

We spoke to Swati Rathi, head of marketing, Godrej Appliances, about the campaign. Rathi joined the home appliance arm of Godrej in 2006 in the marketing function. Over the next nine years, she took on various responsibilities. In 2015, she was promoted to head – marketing. In her current role, she oversees all aspects of marketing – communication and media, public relations, digital and ground presence, etc.

Swati Rathi
Swati Rathi

Rathi says that the brand wanted to reflect the change our society is currently witnessing, and encourage people to adopt this further, beyond the COVID-19 phase. This led to #HumSabHomeMakers.

“Even as women continue to battle alone in many homes, the good news is that more and more men are stepping up to their role as equal homemakers, including our employees. This change was apparent in the conversations in team meetings, both at Godrej and WATConsult, our digital partner. We felt it was the perfect opportunity for us to extend the homemaker and gender equality conversations we have been having under the socially relevant Lets Start Right Series,” shares Rathi.

Talking about the conceptualisation of the ad, Rathi says it was not the regular film that one is used to - where we have the luxury of storyboards, casts, set, etc. “We received videos and photographs from different homes - different angles, different lighting, different frame sizes. We are happy with the output as it is authentic.”

We kept no production and promotion costs, as non-core spends in the current scenario, where revenues are halted, would be unjustified.
Swati Rathi

“The film was an experiment. We had a lot of faith in the insight and thought it would resonate. But we kept no production and promotion costs, as non-core spends in the current scenario, where revenues are halted, would be unjustified. So yes, as much as we believed in this, it was the first time we were making an in-house, almost 'zero' budget film and putting it out there... We did have some butterflies in the stomach and wondered whether all the effort will bear fruit, or not,” Rathi adds.

We asked Rathi about how the role of a marketer has changed in the past 15-20 days? She said that marketing communication focused on delivering the same promises as the brand offered pre-COVID-19, will not work. The consumer clearly needs brands to play a larger, or at least a different, role than what it may have played in the past. One has to be sensitive to the changing face of customer concerns, the disruptions in their lives and re-evaluate how the brand engages with them.

Promotions is no longer the key P for a marketer and other Ps may need to take precedence.
Swati Rathi

She says, “Promotions is no longer the key P for a marketer and other Ps may need to take precedence, depending on which sector the brand operates in. At Appliances, for example, providing reassurance, and helping the customers by trying to deliver remote assistance, is a key action area currently and the offering, therefore, is not centred on the physical product. People development, especially sales skills, product pitches, is a key area of focus for marketers at a time when the frontline sales staff and trade partners are captive audience. Most brands are focusing on this.”

“Marketers also need to start becoming active drivers of the digital shifts that are inevitably happening across organisations. Digital transitions are expected, in a big way, across verticals and marketing is at the forefront of it – from consumer engagement to lead generation to customer service. And, of course, last but definitely not the least, pretty much every marketer is focused on cost-cutting - chipping away at all redundancies and driving efficiency like never before, while contemplating alternate revenue generating sources.”

The one-minute-15-second-long film features Godrej Appliances' head of conversions - Abdul Malik; manager, trade marketing appliances - Antarip Deb; sourcing - Sanjay Gandhi; head of operations - Hussain Shariyarr; AGM, digital marketing - Amit Tilekar; senior manager, business planning and analysis - Dipti Karkera; AGM, finance - Poornima Abhishek; zonal business head - Aditya Yadav; zonal head, direct sales - Niladri Chatterjee; zonal business head - Ajay Bharadwaj; manager service - Sudha Krishnakumar and others.