Deepashree Banerjee

Hewlett Packard's Surf Excel-esque Diwali ad traces a familiar narrative, with warmth

A sweet little kid helps a less privileged lady sell her wares. We saw a similar narrative in Surf Pakistan's 2016 Eid spot by Lowe Mumbai.

The three-minute-long ad film, crafted by Autumn Worldwide, shows a woman selling diyas on the street - a familiar sight for everyone in the days leading up to Diwali. How a young boy helps her sell all her wares before Diwali forms the crux of this short ad film titled 'Umeed ka Diya' or the 'Light of hope'.

Hewlett Packard's Surf Excel-esque Diwali ad traces a familiar narrative, with warmth

As part of HP India's #TuJashnBan campaign, the tech company has launched a digital spot on the occasion of Diwali, Umeed ka Diya

Hewlett Packard's Surf Excel-esque Diwali ad traces a familiar narrative, with warmth

Sahil Trehan

In such times when the viewer's dwindling attention span is seemingly a major concern for marketers and advertisers, throwing some light on the process of having woven the product angle into the story, Sahil Trehan, vice president at Autumn Worldwide, says, “We started this brief where we wanted to do an authentic and honest attempt to the cause. We always wanted the brand to play the part of an enabler, but here, we managed to do more. The brand and its products empower the story without being pushed at all.”

Interestingly, the new spot shares a some similarity with the 2016 Surf Excel campaign titled #MadadEkIbadat (Helping is an act of faith) where a little boy helps an old 'samosa-wala' sell his Iftar savouries and while doing so, stains his clothes ("Daag, after all, Achhe Hai"- rings a bell?).

While the two films appear to be similar Trehan feels they are two entirely different stories stating, "The #MadadEkIbadat film, is a beautifully woven story, but it talks about a generic insight and action of doing good, whereas #UmeedKaDiya is all about the insight and specifically related to Diwali, how we, as a society, have become so modern that we have an indifferent attitude towards a particular section of society. #UmeedKaDiya brings out their plight, pain and struggle.

"Also, in this film, the product is an enabler, it helps with the kid's mission, it takes the film forward and is an integral part of the film. Remove the printer and you won't have the same film. But, that's not the case with #MadadEkIbadat; their product is just a placement," Trehan explains.

While doing their background research, the agency analysed films and conversations around Diwali from the last three years in order to build on a fresh insight that could create a real and positive impact on viewers. That's when they stumbled upon information regarding modernisation and how street vendors are losing their business because of it. It's what got them hooked.

"We met a few street vendors to validate this and get an authentic point of view. That's what we have tried to show in the film," Trehan shares.

Moreover, as a part of HP India's #TuJashnBan campaign, the tech brand is also putting concerted efforts to promote local street vendors by creating awareness through newspaper inserts and carrying their photos with addresses. In fact, the brand has plans to decorate some of the major HP world stores with 'diyas' purchased from street vendors.

The digital spot was shot in multiple locations in Gurgaon as the agency wanted to capture the contrast of modern shops and local street vendors. Trehan shares an interesting anecdote regarding the shoot, "Our key focus was to get as authentic as possible. When shooting for the scene where we show people walking away and not buying from 'Amma', we took real shots of people walking by her. So, you see real reactions from people."

He elaborates, "For the next shot, where people begin to buy from her after the kid puts those posters on the street, we went up to people and told them that we are doing this film to support street vendors; we got an amazing response from people who wanted to actually buy those diyas (the money went to a local street vendor from whom we had rented the stuff). We saw more people joining in and begin to purchase diyas without realising they were on camera (which we disclosed later). It gave us the confidence that a small act can trigger a movement which is what we are seeing now, after the film is on air."

The video was released on HP's various digital platforms in India and has gone viral with over 2.3 million views and more than 60 thousand shares on the brand's social platforms alone, in just 2 days.

Does the 'Go Local' tag strike a chord?

And does such heart-warming storytelling remind us that the five-second story isn't the only route to the share button? Over to the experts -

Hewlett Packard's Surf Excel-esque Diwali ad traces a familiar narrative, with warmth

Rajesh Lalwani

In a fast-paced, fast-changing world where traditional customs and values have given way to glitz and plastic, Rajesh Lalwani, CEO, Scenario Consulting decodes how and why HP's 'Umeed ka Diya' resonates on many counts. He says, " For one, it's the coming together of old world artisanal craft and technology, where on one hand the brand seamlessly plays enabler and on the other, the young protagonist uses the advantage of 'virality' of the digital medium to propagate the message. So, the film succeeds in evoking nostalgia and leverages that to stoke the inherent goodness in people, to do good this festive season."

Lalwani affirms that in its rich insight that 'Back to Basics' is a silent movement in the making, 'Go local' is the new global.

With regard to perhaps, over-speculating the resemblance to the Surf Excel ad, he adds, "All I can say is that it's a great thing that more than one brand is embracing the task of propagating our values to the next generation. The more the merrier."

Given the very fact that festivals have traditionally been about values of doing good and sharing, which are fast getting lost in commerce and self-indulgence, more than one brand is seen riding that wave this year.

Hewlett Packard's Surf Excel-esque Diwali ad traces a familiar narrative, with warmth

Shekhar Mhaskar

Shekhar Mhaskar, EVP Isobar saw the video as a WhatsApp forward even without knowing it was by HP. "The fact that it is already going viral this way proves the strength of the story. The product has been seamlessly integrated into the story by giving subtle emphasis on the boy printing and pasting the posters everywhere. Even without reaching the last frame, one can gather that it's a film by a printer brand and needless to say, the top-of-mind brand would be HP," he says, sounding impressed with the ad.

Mhaskar is also of the opinion that there is a resemblance between the two ads and explains, "... it's alright. Don't we all get that fuzzy feeling when there's a beautiful emotion so nicely painted in front of you? It's how one choreographs the scenes around the music of emotions thereby striking an emotional chord with the audience; that makes all the difference."

A look at some of the ads released by the brand in the recent past:

Hewlett Packard's Surf Excel-esque Diwali ad traces a familiar narrative, with warmth

HP Printers - Print Befikar ad

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