Shreyas Kulkarni

Vijay Raaz raps his address to a harried delivery chap in what3words’ maiden India campaign

Made by Famous Innovations, the British startup wants to map India in three-metre squares. Did the campaign reach its destination?

First came the stars, then the tree leaves, the magnetic compass was next, followed by the maps. First on paper and then on screens, the art of navigation has seen many avatars. Its latest one, courtesy of what3words, shrinks down locations to just three words and, while at it, makes actor Vijay Raaz rap with increasing annoyance.

In its first campaign for India, London-based what3words shows us, through Raaz’s dulcet tones, how its system of dividing the world into three-metre squares and giving each square a unique combination of three words, works.

“It’s the easiest way to find and share exact locations,” says the app’s website.

A brainchild of Famous Innovations, the 40-second spot shows us how annoyingly hard it is for a delivery chap to find an address when the recipient is rapping instructions through the phone. The proverbial “tu kidhar hai” makes itself heard as well.

Giles Rhys Jones, CMO, what3words, said in a press release, “India is an incredibly exciting market for us. It’s a country that welcomes innovative technology and is driven by a desire to get ahead. This fun and insightful campaign perfectly demonstrates addressing challenges people and businesses face every day and how what3words can make knowing exactly where, simply simple.”

what3words, however, has its work cut out because it not only takes on the likes of Google Maps and Pataa, but India is also heavily dependent on verbal instructions when it comes to navigation. Famous Innovations too had a challenge up its sleeve.

Pataa, through its 2021 campaign, tried to explain how, through its app, you will not struggle to find the right location of address through the pin code. The last ad from Google Maps in India was released in 2018 and it was to announce the two-wheeler mode.

afaqs! spoke to Raj Kamble, founder and CCO, Famous Innovations, about this maiden what3words campaign in India.

Edited excerpts:

What did what3words ask you to do, considering this was its first Indian TV campaign?

The brand sought unique Indian nuances and an understanding of the country’s complexity. How do we make this technology desirable? How do we ensure that it is understood simply and intuitively? And, of course, how do we ensure it stands out and makes a mark?

Consumers had to be told not just what what3words is, but why it matters in their lives. India is still a very informal market, when it comes to addresses and navigation, with even Google Maps' penetration low and no or limited use of GPS.

That's why the task wasn't as straightforward as it has been in the UK or Germany or other markets where the brand is already present. This technology can be quite alien to the average Indian consumer.

Did the brand address the campaign’s target group?

Given the nature of the app, starting with India's most dense cities made more sense. We're talking to tech-savvy young Indians, who live busy, complex lives and are constantly looking for ways to add convenience to their lives every day. Despite all the progress around them, city infrastructure, including addresses, remains a challenge and that's where what3words comes in.

Tell us about your treatment of the idea. Was this the only one you discussed?

This idea started with the insight - addresses in India are long and complicated. We're all used to writing 5-6-line-long addresses, with multiple landmarks and explanations. We explored several insights around addresses in India and ideas that stemmed from them.

From remote locations that don't have accurate addresses, to complicated markets where people can't share an accurate location, we travelled far and wide with this. But we finally chose this route because there's nothing more relatable than this process of explaining a long and complicated address on the phone.

Employing a rap then helped dramatise this point and made the film more entertaining and share-worthy. Then came the journey of crafting - choosing the right celebrity, location, and words for the address. Each layer made the idea richer.

Why did you choose Vijay Raaz?

Initially, we explored working with a rapper. However, we realised that the beauty of the treatment is the unexpectedness of the rap - which would not come alive with a rapper.

We were afraid it would turn into a regular song, instead of a frustrated rant. Vijay Raaz is known for his iconic voice - one that is always used for voice-overs but has never been explored for rap. We thought it would be quite surprising for people to hear him rap. We were sure he would deliver the impatience and frustration of the protagonist in an authentic way.

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