On the occasion of its fourth year in business, food delivery app Swiggy makes a video based on the experiences of its delivery staff.
Taking the emotional route and celebrating unsung heroes, in this case the 'foot-soldiers' (pun intended) of delivery services/ startups - the guys jetting about on bikes bringing your orders as soon as possible (and as warm as possible, as the case may be) - isn't really a new thing.
Let's rewind a little; the trend was popularised in India with the #SpecialDelivery campaign by Google, run in 2014 for #GOSF (Google Online Shopping Festival). Since then, it's not just the brands in the food segment, but various other's too who have leveraged this.
One might ask if it's not a bit late for Swiggy to join the bandwagon, but as they say, better late than never!
Also, with digital turning into a major playground for both marketers and advertisers, food ordering and delivery companies have been exposed to two-way communication. That also means they had best be on their best behaviour lest some unhappy customer decide to bring their grievances to their FB page.
Over the last few years, Swiggy has continued to expand to tier II cities, at a rapid pace. However, cties like Mumbai, Delhi and Bangalore continue to be some of the brand's strongest markets. There is also a rapid increase in the number of orders from cities such as Vizag, Indore and, most recently, Surat, where the service was just launched.
On being asked what Swiggy does to calm a fuming consumer who has had a bad experience on their platform, the Brand spokesperson replies diplomatically, "Swiggy has one of the highest repeat rates in the industry and one of the key reasons for this is Swiggy's unwavering focus on delivering a delightful customer experience every single time."
The brand clarifies further, "While the manner in which we address these may vary, depending on their nature and degree, every concern is addressed keeping in mind the superior consumer experience we want our users to have on the platform. Swiggy is also extremely nimble when it comes to identifying and resolving issues flagged to us via social media."
In January, it was reported that Swiggy suspended one delivery boy in Bengaluru for allegedly misbehaving with a female customer while delivering food. This was followed by another incident of Swiggy delivery boys indulging in a brawl over a parking lot space in South Delhi, last month. Swiggy declined to comment about either incident.
Swiggy's delivery partners are important stakeholders forming an integral part of the brand's ecosystem. Hence, on its 4th anniversary, the brand wanted to credit the true workforce behind their business model. Srivats TS, VP, marketing, shares, "The campaign was created to capture the day-to-day experiences of our modern-day superheroes and make them feel valued and proud of being part of the Swiggy journey."
When asked whether the humble deliverymen, adorning the brand uniforms, often get judged on their appearance, which reflects the brand's business, Srivats replies, "While uniforms are a part of the delivery partners' onboarding process, we equip them with the right training and development (personality, behavioural and communication skills) to enable them to upskill themselves constantly.
"Our onboarding process for delivery partners includes counselling on our expectations to ensure a superior consumer experience, road safety awareness, the benefits that we offer and end-to-end training of our delivery partner app via various scenario-based cases. This is followed by an on-ground training via mock orders," he explains further.
Founded in August 2014, Swiggy currently boasts a 55,000-executive strong delivery fleet from 30,000 at the beginning of the year and more than 40,000 restaurant partners on board, across 18 cities in India.
"Considering the number of exciting milestones that Swiggy has passed and is yet to cross, we thought it was the perfect opportunity to thank the people behind our success - our delivery partners," Srivats signs off.
Shooting this video was quite exciting, but it came with its own share of challenges. GD Prasad, client services director, Dentsu Webchutney shares, "Since the campaign had to be ready in a matter of four days, we shot this on the streets of Mumbai. No fancy sets and no luxurious settings."
Talking about the nitty-gritty, he adds, "While we shot this in one city, we wanted it to look like this was happening across cities in the country. It took us nearly two days to curate these locations before actual production began. The film had a lot of shots where the delivery partner was in motion, so we had to ensure that there was enough space in the frame. Therefore, we chose to do these shots with a light crew."
Moreover, we are compelled to wonder where the agency acquired the insights from for this particular ad; for instance, a customer conveniently forgetting a 'thank you' to the delivery guy etc.
The consumer research was pretty simple, Prasad tells us, "We just took inspiration from how we behave with the delivery partners."
Insights for the delivery partners, on the other hand, came from the agency's conversations with Swiggy and a few partners as well. "We wanted to represent a slice of life with this film. Therefore, we kept everything as real as possible - right from the location, the people and the way things were represented in each frame," Prasad says.
Birthday briefs are always exciting at Dentsu Webchutney; Prasad gets candid about this, "While we were toying with a few ideas to celebrate Swiggy's fourth birthday, the team spoke to us about a couple of initiatives targeted specifically at their delivery partners. That's when we figured this occasion would be a great opportunity to pay tribute to Swiggy's delivery partners for helping keep India hunger-free!"
Prasad, however, maintains, "It all comes from the fact that this community is integral to Swiggy's success and the timing was just right for us to showcase their grit in making this brand a household name."
The Litmus Test
Let's shift our focus to the advertising bit and put the video under the 'expert scanner'.
Jagdish Acharya, founder and creative head, Cut The Crap feels this is an oblique way of conveying to consumers that Swiggy has a great team in place to service them.
"The deliverymen are unlikely to be impressed either way - for them it has to be action, not words," he views.
Keeping the latter statement in mind, it was reported that last month Swiggy, along with other food delivery platforms like Zomato and UberEats, in their competition to remain ahead of each other, almost doubled the salaries of their delivery executives. In some cases the raise has been more than double.
Acharya, recalls a somewhat similar campaign titled 'Aapke Sachche Advisor' by Max New York Life that focused on insurance sellers, projecting them as genuine friends because the public image was quite the reverse.
"Here, no such dilemma exists. Many food delivery companies are employing as many deliverymen. It's a regular service, no big deal. The campaign is like a splash of water that does not wet anybody," he observes wryly.
We asked Carlton D'Silva, chief creative officer, Hungama Digital Media, if he thinks celebrating and thanking the deliverymen should be an important on-going strategy for such brands and not just a one-time viral stunt.
"I don't know if they really need to say thank you in this manner... I'd rather spend that money doing something that would make a difference in their lives," he responds adding that the tone sounded like more of an apology to him.
However, Jaideep Mahajan, national creative director, Rediffusion, is somewhat confused as to the purpose of the campaign and what sort of relevance it holds for the consumer. He says, "It works as a great internal campaign, but I'm not sure what it does for the consumer. Swiggy is in the business of delivery and these agents are their employees. Thanking the employees is basically equivalent to just a pat on one's own back."
Syed Murtaza, head - creative and tech, Grapes Digital feels there's clearly scope for improvement in post-production, VO and soundtrack. "It seems like a low budget film coupled with a vanilla script and an expected outcome. The treatment could have been better to justify the vast Swiggy network," he opines.
Murtaza identifies a probability, "Something like ants who work relentlessly to get the food delivered to their colonies! They could have captured more emotional or cheeky moments like they did in their recent TVCs."
Murtaza feels the brands need to go beyond just a simple thank you, to a level of bringing an actual change and upliftment in the life of a deliveryman, to give them their due credit in a better way, like the Samsung Service Guy film for instance (it also happens to be one most watched videos in 2017)."
"There are other, better thoughts that the agency could have dialled in to communicate the same message in a better and more effective manner. It should have either moved the audience or the protagonists (the delivery guys) or both," he points out.
A quick glance at some similar attempts by brands in the recent past.