Deepashree Banerjee

"The difficult part was finding people who retired 25 years back": Amit Akali on the quest for Arrow's 82-year old model

On its 25th year in business in India, apparel brand Arrow creates a campaign with an unconventional model.

Celebrating 25 years of being shirt makers, Men's formal wear brand, Arrow (part of Arvind Fashions Ltd) released a digital film - The Best Is Yet To Come. Conceptualised and executed by Arrow's AOR - What's Your Problem Brand Solutions - the film, following a route less travelled, encourages retired professionals to do their best each day and stop at nothing.

"The difficult part was finding people who retired 25 years back": Amit Akali on the quest for Arrow's 82-year old model

As Arrow completes its 25 years in India, the brand released a digital film encouraging retired professionals to strive to be better than yesterday

O.P. Khanna, the "model" in the film, was a hardcore corporate professional who often worked 18 hours a day. While he had limited exposure to the film industry, he maintains, "Several IIT's and MNCs I worked with in the past made documentaries on me, but they were quite different. A full blown film is a different ballgame altogether."

"The difficult part was finding people who retired 25 years back": Amit Akali on the quest for Arrow's 82-year old model

OP Khanna

Though shooting commenced at 6.30am and concluded at 6.30pm, contrary to his general perception of film people in Bollywood, Khanna was pleasantly surprised to find the whole crew present on set.

Being a perfectionist he wanted to be thorough with the script and although he would miss a word during takes (particularly in the drawing room scene) and adlibbed here and there, a modest Khanna praises the director for maintaining his patience.

Khanna, a graduate engineer from IIT Kharagpur with an IIT and post-grad from Halle, Germany, hails from Bangalore.

So, does the insight actually cut across age groups, demographics and professions?

"The difficult part was finding people who retired 25 years back": Amit Akali on the quest for Arrow's 82-year old model

Sumit Dhingra

"It stems from the endeavour to be a better version of our self, to reinvent, to be forward-looking, and to strive for new successes even though we may have achieved something significant in the past," says Sumit Dhingra, CEO, Heritage Brands Division, Arvind Fashions Ltd.

Dhingra continues, "A young person who has just started his career or a CEO at the pinnacle of his, will equally resonate with this thought. Arrow is for the working professional with the core audience being 28-45 years who is always looking for new challenges and opportunities to do better. Hence, they will connect with the thought behind - The Best Is Yet To Come."

The campaign is about celebrating professionals who aim to make each day better than the previous, irrespective of their age. This is resonated in the film featuring an 82-year old protagonist.

Arrow, as the brand claims, is for professionals who have a similar belief system. "Going forward, we would like to connect with other such professionals (like Khanna) and dress them up in Arrow as well. We would also open this up to our customers and fans who share their stories and personal journeys and probably pick the best ones to dress them up in Arrow too," Dhingra adds.

The takeaway from the brief...

The creative brief to the agency was to evolve the brand positioning and thus, create a campaign that is beyond showcasing seasonal looks; to develop a campaign that has an emotional connect with the consumer.

"The difficult part was finding people who retired 25 years back": Amit Akali on the quest for Arrow's 82-year old model

Amit Akali

"The campaign began with communicating the brand heritage in store windows through a timeline visual mapping the key milestones of the brand from 1851 to 2018. The ATL campaign was focussed on print and OOH advertising on the new positioning of 'The Best Is Yet To Come', were released nationally in key markets. This was followed by celebrating 25 years of Arrow India with the digital film that has been released," informs Amit Akali, founder and chief creative officer, What's Your Problem.

"We first started with creating a belief system and philosophy for brand Arrow. Once the belief system was decided, every piece of communication had to come from there - from events, activations or print ads," Akali states.

He elaborates, "One of the briefs was that Arrow was celebrating 25 years in India, at which point one a team member came up with the idea that there would have been many corporate achievers that lived this philosophy even before Arrow came to India - who Arrow would have missed dressing; these people would be around 80/85 years old. We realised that if we actually managed to dress someone like that and make them look better than they've ever looked before, it would be a great demonstration of the philosophy, proving that at any age, you could do something better than ever before. We immediately felt a story like this could be extremely inspirational for our consumers."

That was the was the easy part, Akali mentions and adds that finding people who had retired 25 years ago, who were still active and willing to shoot with them, proved difficult.

While they had to fit the age profile, their achievements and story had to be motivational and personify the philosophy. The agency spent a good couple of months contacting various corporate achievers who had retired in the early 90' and spent hours meeting or interviewing the few they found before actually zeroing in on Khanna. "Every meeting with him was inspirational. That's when we knew his story was the one to share," shares Akali.

What about the age demographic? What if millennials fail to get the brand message right in this recent spot and move to a rival brand instead?

Akali responds, "The philosophy of #BestIsYetToCome is relevant to working professionals of all ages. When you're young and starting off, you are extremely positive and look forward to achieving your best. At the same time, it's a philosophy that keeps you going even at the later stages of your career. The big achievers are the ones who don't rest on their laurels, irrespective of age. And, those are the people that millennials look up to."

The spot ends with a note revealing that the brand made an attempt to dress up other professionals too, as part of the campaign.

At the same time, there was also the criteria that individuals had to have retired before Arrow came to India in the early 90's. "Which is what made it so difficult - some of the people we contacted had retired much later," he says.

"The shooting process was extremely memorable and inspirational. Just hearing their life stories awed us. On top of that, the energy they possessed was remarkable," Akali adds.

"O.P. Khanna and his wife even promised to host us at their home for dinner! We all stood up and gave them a standing ovation at the end of the shoot, that was quite memorable," an overwhelmed Akali says candidly.

The production team shared some snippets/'aww' moments like - "Every time Sir (Khanna) was getting dressed, Aunty (his wife) would go and adjust his bow tie or blazer adding that perfect touch to the final look."

An Agency spokesperson also commented that every time they would sit and chat during lunch or tea breaks, Khanna would come by and ask them to continue on to the set. "His energy is infectious," they added.

We asked the experts if the film struck an emotional chord:-

Navin Kansal, chief creative officer, 21N78E Creative Labs feels it signals a confident brand to portray a senior citizen as the protagonist whose age does not come in the way of his drive to do more in life, just like the brand.

"The difficult part was finding people who retired 25 years back": Amit Akali on the quest for Arrow's 82-year old model

Navin Kansal

"The difficult part was finding people who retired 25 years back": Amit Akali on the quest for Arrow's 82-year old model

Manish Kinger

In the same breath, he adds that it is unlikely to alienate millennials, who are far more discerning than they get credit for. "The gentleman in question is an achiever who has 'been there, done that'. If at all, he is someone to seek inspiration from, ergo the brand rub-off," views Kansal.

However, Kansal does feel that while it has been executed well, with a soundtrack that does justice to the mood, the film's narrative could have been a little less self-indulgent and tighter.

According to Manish Kinger, creative director at ADK-Fortune, the setting, pace, length and breadth of the human narrative, characters, and chemistry between the characters, all the pieces that make up the film, make it brave.

"But the film is just the tip of the braveness. Most brands would communicate completing 25 years by dressing professionals who have completed 25 years themselves and are already the acquired consumer (CEOs, MDs) or reaching the potential consumer by dressing 25-year-olds who have just started out. Not budging to this comfort of convention and looking beyond the target group to communicate 'The Best Is Yet To Come', makes for a solid brand story," Kinger states signing off.

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