An opinionated adman on 'The Great Indian Selfie Market'.
Somewhere in the conference room of an upcoming handset brand, the marketing department is pouring over marketing data. The market research agency has come back with an extensive survey, which has been married with data from social media and also from retail stores.
The insights were clear. Handsets are about friends, handsets help you connect with friends, call them over and hang out together. Handsets are also about selfies. When friends meet, they want to record moments, post them on social media and bask in the glory of likes and comments.
After many rounds of discussion, brainstorm, heartburn and endless rounds of coffee interlaced with nicotine breaks, the strategy was formulated.
The proposition was sharp, the insight was clear. The campaign will be a winner, the team was convinced.
It had to be a camera (not a handset) that clicked perfect selfies and it had to be endorsed by a celebrity. The celebrity had to be a marquee celebrity who will quickly get eyeballs and will ensure that the phones fly off the shelf.
The hunt for a celebrity was extensive. How do you find a brand ambassador that is the perfect embodiment of what the brand stands for?
The checklist included various factors. Has to have mass following, must have delivered a big hit recently, must have a great social media presence, must be a able to connect with the new socially driven millennial, must have a great sense of fashion, must even have international appeal.
The debates were even more heated than the debate for arriving at insights. The make or break of the campaign did hinge on the choice of celebrity. This is a high stakes campaign for both agency and client. They can't get it wrong.
After all the planning and research, the client and the agency were happy at where they had reached. The campaign was now ready and about to break on TV.
On the break, the client and agency were perplexed, they felt that they had seen something like what they have produced, but the brand is different and the celebrity too is not whom they had chosen. What has gone wrong?
Welcome to the great selfie market of India. There are not one, but three brands with exactly the same strategy and similar communication selling handsets in India.
All three are in a high stakes game, all three have a marquee celebrity and all three are betting big on cricket.
Oppo, Gionee and Vivo have very similar communication. Alia, Deepika and Ranveer have crossed swords to deliver you the selfies. There is a flash that takes a selfie, there is one that doesn't need a flash, there is one that has two lenses - one for self and one for groups.
If the three ads appear one after another in a commercial break (and they do often) the consumer will be left with selfie and selfie and selfie. Which camera (no, they don't sell phones any longer) is best for your pout?
May the best selfie win.
The author is chief strategy officer and managing partner of Bang in the Middle.