In a new spot, Nestlé positions Maggi as a teenager’s rite of passage into the kitchen.
For years, Maggi built a narrative around ‘the mummy’ making noodles for her kids in no more than ‘bas do-minute’. In a new 40-second spot, the Nestle-owned instant noodles brand has been positioned as a teenage boy’s entry point into a place he doesn’t associate with as his department – the kitchen. He calls his mum because 'kuch acha sa khane ka man kar rha hai'. She helps him make his first bowl of Maggi by guiding him around the kitchen over the phone – all in a bid to make her son ‘hostel ready’.
Conceptualised by McCann Worldgroup India, the ad is part of a campaign titled - First Cook.
In a press release issued by the brand’s communications team, Nikhil Chand, director-Foods and Confectionery, Nestlé India, says, “Indians love Maggi noodles and most of us have our favourite Maggi recipes and memories. From countless consumer conversations, we learnt that cooking Maggi noodles is often the first culinary moment for many people. For 36 years, moms have cooked Maggi noodles for their loved ones. This time, we found magic in a teenager trying to cook Maggi for the first time. That makes this film beautiful.”
Released on Star India-owned video streaming platform Hotstar for now, the campaign will soon be launched as a large-scale television campaign across national and regional channels.
Interestingly, the ad reminds us of a 2017 film for Dalda, titled 'Naye Zamane ka Naya Dalda'.
While some may find the comparison obtuse, we nevertheless asked our experts whether, given the growing popularity of online food delivery apps, Maggi will face any indirect competition.
“At a macro level, maybe,” says Gulshan Singh, national planning director, FCB Interface. He adds, “But Maggi’s place as an instant-ish snacking choice, based, as it is, on familiarity and comfort, is relatively secure. Also, Indians still tend to order meals more than snacks.”
Singh reasons that for years, the core message in Maggi’s ads has been centred on demonstrating the ease and convenience of preparing it. He believes that now, given the increasing competition in the snacking space, Maggi’s messaging ought to focus less on how to make it and more on other factors, like why it’s still the best go-to snack. “While the preparation ritual is a part of this film, the ease/convenience is not the main story. Maggi is continuing to do what it has been doing for a while, using emotional cues - in this case, an evolved mother encouraging her son to be more independent. The brand is trying to strengthen its bond with consumers,” he explains.
We can’t help but wonder, was the choice of gender in the ad deliberate, i.e., a teenage boy (not a girl) to make a statement about ‘kitchen stereotypes’? “If so, it doesn’t go far enough...,” opines Singh, adding,"... while the mother-child equation is integral to the Maggi brand, making the father a protagonist or at least a participant in the actual making of Maggi, would have been a more interesting step and a bigger statement.”
In the ad, the mother trains her son to become ‘hostel ready’ by teaching him how to make Maggi. One might argue that Indian mothers would, at best, tolerate their child’s extreme consumption of Maggi in college - something typical of hostel life - but would they encourage it, let alone train them for it? Also, there’s a parallel fitness wave that’s gripping the nation – should team Maggi fret?
“Most Indian kids learn to ‘cook’ Maggi by the time they’re in their early teens and their mothers or older siblings usually teach it. It’s almost on par with learning to make chai. If they’re going to a hostel, they often learn to make basic meals like daal-chawal. I don’t think mothers will have any hang-ups with their sons learning to make chai or Maggi,” Singh says, pegging the boy in the ad as an ‘older teen’.
About the oft-visited ‘Maggi is not healthy’ line of enquiry, he says, “Indian consumers are increasingly seeking health and nutrition from their main meals, but when it comes to snacks, we continue to seek indulgence and taste. Maggi is clearly in the ‘snacking’ space and will continue to thrive there.”
Jagdeep Kapoor, chairman and MD, Samsika Marketing Consultants, a Mumbai-based brand marketing consultancy, says, “Maggi has a special place in the hearts of consumers and will not feel any heat from online food delivery apps. Online food delivery is one thing and offline food eating is another... both have their own places.”
About the execution of the ad in question, Kapoor adds, “This latest ad touches the mind and heart. ‘First cook’ is like ‘first love’...” He continues, “It is not just about the initiation of a young person – boy or girl – into cooking. Rather, it’s about being able to stand on your own - to cook and eat on your own. It is liberating. It is independence. It is a feeling of self-sufficiency.”
According to Kapoor, the health wave needn’t worry about team Maggi just yet because though it’s a fitness conscious generation, it’s also what he calls a ‘taste and flavour generation’. “This is an ‘instant’ generation. Maggi fits in well with it...” he says.