Sunit Roy

Samsung attempts tear-jerker with ad for Bixby Voice Assistant

Conceptualised by Cheil WW India, the video is based on a real-life story.

You'll undoubtedly recall Samsung India's long-format, rather enchanting ad film for #SamsungService (2016) that showcased just how far its staff would go to help consumers. The home appliance maker had launched the campaign as part of its initiative to take customer service to the consumer's doorstep - in both urban and rural India. Once again, Samsung has dared to take an unconventional step and tug at the emotional heartstrings of viewers in its latest ad - Samsung Bixby #VoiceForever.

Conceptualised by Cheil WW India and produced by Crazy Few Films, the ad has been directed by Anupam Mishra. The campaign is inspired by a real-life story showcasing the use of technology in helping a daughter preserve her mother's voice as she has Motor Neuron Disease (MND) which slowly takes away a person's ability to speak and move.

Samsung attempts tear-jerker with ad for Bixby Voice Assistant

Samsung Bixby #VoiceForever campaign

Samsung and the Asha Ek Hope foundation, India's first registered non-profit NGO supporting people with MND, are developing the first personalised AI Voice Assistant for the little girl so that her mother's voice can live on forever.

Samsung attempts tear-jerker with ad for Bixby Voice Assistant

'#SamsungService' campaign released in 2016 to promote Samsung Service Vans

While discussing the campaign, Josh Seokjin, senior art director and Alberto Rodriguez, senior copywriter from Cheil HQ Global Creative Division, say, "Inspired by our first patient, the Cheil team set out to present a simple yet moving story showcasing the endless possibilities that a personalised AI like Bixby can bring to a family coping with this unfortunate condition. We are delighted to see the heart-warming response that the film is getting and we are looking forward to perfecting the technology and inspiring many others."

It is not the first time that a brand has focussed on voice-based interactive AI technology and created a chatbot - a computer programme designed to simulate conversation with human users for the same. Recently, Reliance's Jio used AI to create chatbots for the promotion of '102 Not Out', a film featuring Amitabh Bachchan and Rishi Kapoor. Bachchan's bot was later followed by Baba Ramdev for day-to-day yoga tips. While JioInteract is a patented AI-based brand engagement platform and the Video Call Bot mimics a human by creating vocalised responses, Samsung Bixby is a personalised AI voice assistant, like Siri or Cortana, with a difference, it would seem.

Chatbots are becoming applicable to various industries and are accessible to millions of users across the globe, opening doors to endless opportunities. In recent years, AI-powered bots are being integrated into numerous industries such as payments, banking, customer service, and even pure personal amusement.

With the Samsung Bixby #VoiceForever campaign, the product forms an intrinsic part of the story. While high-tech aspects of smartphone features, like this one, are usually highlighted, Samsung has chosen to 'zag' by taking an emotional approach. It is not an easy-to-understand feature for the uninitiated, but the ad has done a great good job of 'explaining' it within the context of a true story.

Also, the execution of the #VoiceForever campaign is in keeping with the tone that has been set in ads like that of the Samsung Service Van. Of course, that was more for the masses - both in product and appeal. Here, the appeal is a little more niche, but it feels authentic and quite human, nonetheless. As a result, the three-minute-long film, which was released on September 13, has clocked in a whopping 78 million views so far, just on YouTube.

So, does it really touch the emotional chord? We asked the experts:-

According to Bodhisatwa Dasgupta, senior creative director, Happy mcgarrybowen, the business of death and terminal illness is unsettling. Even more unsettling is hearing someone who's passed on, talk to you through artificial intelligence.

Samsung attempts tear-jerker with ad for Bixby Voice Assistant

Bodhisatwa Dasgupta

Samsung attempts tear-jerker with ad for Bixby Voice Assistant

Sumanto Chattopadhyay

"I lost my dad when I was quite young and honestly, I'm not sure how I'd react if I asked Alexa what the weather would be like today and his crisp cigarette-stained voice filled the room saying - 'Cloudy with a chance of dark foreboding'," he says. Dasgupta adds, "But at other times, it'd be great if I could hear his voice again. So I'm not really sure what my stand is on this, honestly. Are we doing all this to detach ourselves from the harsh reality of people leaving? Is that healthy?"

As far as product integration goes, Dasgupta finds the ad to be tight and innocuous enough. "I'm sure people will remember it was a Samsung commercial. But will it sell more phones? With the iPhone launching fresh models, that will have people like me queuing up outside the Apple store like zombies, it's anybody's guess," he points out.

Sumanto Chattopadhyay, chairman and chief creative officer, Soho Square - The Ogilvy Group, India, is of the opinion that just like with movies, advertising also uses emotion, and in this case - 'tears', as one of the tools to engage an audience. He says, "... It is a challenge to integrate an AI-based feature into an emotional story - and in this case, that has been fairly well met."

Chattopadhyay continues, "We always want to bring authenticity to our storytelling. Yet, at times, mass audiences like things to be a bit over-the-top; so, one has to tread a thin line. I think this ad is quite restrained in the way it has handled the topic."

He adds, "I think the true story, on which this ad is based, brings to life the Bixby Voice Assistant in an interesting way. I am not sure how 'mass' this product feature is - it may not be available in the more basic Samsung phones, but the ad works for someone like me."


Agency Producer - John Park

Agency - Cheil WW India

Production House - Crazy Few Films

ECD, VP - Kate Hyewon Oh

Director - Anupam Mishra

Sr. Art Director - Josh Seokjin, Shin

Producers - Urfi Kazmi, Viraj Gawas

Sr. Copywriter - Alberto Rodriguez

DOP - Ayananka Bose

Account Director - Siddharth Kapoor

Music Director - Dhruv Ghanekar

Creative Director - Manmeet Singh, Dalip Singh

Lyricist - Abhiruchi Chand

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