Shreyas Kulkarni

OPPO manages to hold an ever-busy Varun Dhawan still, with its F21s Pro

CMO Damyant Singh Khanoria talks about the microlens, phone shapes, and reveals the next big challenge.

Movie stars, with their film schedules and promotional engagements, are a busy bunch. To keep them in one place is quite impossible.

OPPO F21s Pro manages to do it quite effortlessly, well, that is how its ad portrays Varun Dhawan. The actor seems captivated by the smartphone shots in the ad.

Ever felt lost in an incredibly high resolution 4k or 8k scene? Yes, that is how Dhawan is in this ad, all because of the phone’s microlens feature.

Don’t confuse this model with the F21 Pro, which launched in April 2022. The new model comes with a first microlens feature.

OPPO CMO Damyant Singh Khanoria says the company was looking at “creating a high-impact, high-engagement social media campaign, targeting youngsters and first jobbers.”

Also Read: Varun Dhawan, CMO Damyant Singh Khanoria star in OPPO’s latest ad campaign

The F21 series’ first campaign, a digital one, rolled out in April 2022 and was designed to not resemble a regular campaign. Why? “… because the reality of the target audience we are trying to address is that they are essentially on social media all day,” says Khanoria.

OPPO’s current campaign is an extension of the one from April. “We make the microlens feature playful and something the consumers would understand immediately, and also trigger widespread usage.”

A singular focus

It is an interesting trend among smartphone brands these days. Most, if not all, dole out campaigns that focus on a single feature. Go back a decade or two ago, and an ad would sell all features of the phone in one go.

Khanoria says that instead of putting five or six feature updates in a phone, you get to focus on the one which you feel will be the most powerful. “That's usually the reason why the category had evolved and focuses its energies on telling simple stories.”

He explains OPPO’s advertising focuses on “one or two things” but this “doesn't absolve us of the responsibility of giving the consumer a rundown of what the product has.”

Multiple platforms, stories

One of the most beneficial innovations for tech companies has been social media. Khanoria agrees when he says the emergence of social media has freed them from “making one silver bullet TV film, in which you need to tell everything…”

“The emergence of social media platforms and influences has made our jobs, as marketers, somewhat easier. We don't necessarily rely on the film to do all the heavy lifting around the product.”

You can be a lot more surgical in how you deploy your product assets. You have a significant opportunity to story tell your product across various platforms, he remarks.

OML’s deeds

Only Much Louder, or OML, made the current ad as well as the one back in April. OPPO worked with Weiden+Kennedy for its campaign last year, which featured actor Ranbir Kapoor.

“We've been working with OML now for about 10 months … It is also doing a bit of brand work with us. The reason we've been with OML is that at OPPO, we feel it represents the kind of agency that answers to what consumers react to best,” feels Khanoria.

Which digital?

To say “you’re doing digital” is elementary. Brands these days are scratching their heads on where to allocate their media money, as far as digital goes. Should it be creators or YouTube Shorts or Instagram Reels or a performance campaign, the list grows and grows.

“It's not about whether Reels are better or Stories are better, it's less about that and more about what would allow you to tell a story around your campaign, mentions Khanoria.

The form factor

Let’s talk about the phone’s design. Samsung has its flip and fold, and OPPO has touted its rollable smartphone and the flip phone.

Khanoria reveals OPPO has invested over $7 billion over the last 3-4 years on research and development. The money is going into areas of figuring out what would be the most intuitive design story for a smartphone, among other things.

Musing about the future, Khanoria feels the smartphone market is no longer an industry in the phase of evolution. As it has become such an integral part of our lives, it is difficult to come up with something new.

“How do we roll out products that are connected that give an intuitive experience to consumers?” Khanoria feels this will be a big challenge for tech companies in future.

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