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Yet another Idea, Sirji!

By Biprorshee Das , afaqs!, Mumbai | In Advertising
Last updated : January 11, 2010
Continuing with its practice of raising a relevant issue and providing an 'idea' through mobile telephony, Idea Cellular, in its new campaign, speaks about saving trees by avoiding paper wastage

After caste wars were resolved, education spread far and wide, citizens witnessed the power of democracy and good health was ensured for everyone through walking while talking; one wondered which problem Idea Cellular's mobile telephony would help to resolve next.

In its latest campaign, the mobile service provider has chosen to speak about saving trees by minimising paper wastage. This follows Idea's 'Talk For India' campaign, whereby the company raised money to aid national security.

In the television commercial created by Lowe Lintas, brand ambassador and actor, Abhishek Bachchan is seen personifying a tree. The ad opens with Bachchan's voiceover talking of how minimal usage of paper would help save trees.

A woodcutter, having chopped down most trees on a piece of land, is shown gesturing to the lone surviving tree -- 'You are next'. When the woodcutter returns the next day to cut the tree down, he is interrupted by a phone call. As he answers it, he sees mobile phones hanging from the branches of the tree, while Bachchan's face is seen in the trunk.

A series of situations follow -- people read their morning newspaper on their mobile phones; waiters at restaurants note orders on the phones; boarding passes of flights are available on phones; graduating students hold a phone in place of their diploma, and so on. The idea clearly is to champion minimum usage of paper. The ad closes with a shot of the piece of land, where the tree stood. The land has flourished again, and the woodcutter is cracking a joke to try and make peace with the tree.

The TVC has been directed by Amit Sharma of Chrome Pictures. The creative team at Lowe includes R Balki, national creative director and chairman, and creative directors, Ashwin Varkey and Jaywant Dabholkar. Carlos Pereira is the copywriter, while Kapil Bhagat and Ashok Nadavdekar have handled the art.

"We have no defined agenda. It is how things fall in place when we brainstorm with the creative agency. We identify mega trends and consumer insights. There are enough such challenges to be identified that could be solved through mobile telephony," says Pradeep Shrivastava, chief marketing officer, Idea Cellular.

On whether humour takes away from the larger issue, Shrivastava says that the intention is never to disrespect the big idea.

"The humour element is important to reach out to the larger audience as a mass brand. Just because the execution is light-hearted, it does not necessarily mean the issue is small. Through our campaigns, we are offering ideas in a directional manner, specifying that there are solutions possible through the phone in a finite time ahead," he says.

"We are not proposing a paperless society. We will still read our newspapers; our children will carry their notebooks to school. We are just requesting to minimise wastage of paper," he adds.

On the campaign, Tarun Chauhan, executive director, Lowe Lintas, says, "Our job is to give telephony ideas that are in the area of possibilities. The brief we work on is to keep the brand young and vibrant."

Talking to afaqs!, Balki says, "Entertainment is one of the prime purposes of the ads. The solution provided cannot be entertaining in itself; but the execution is. We do not want to make our commercials preachy, but just show the fun of using mobile phones."

Adding to Balki's views, Varkey says, "There is always the element of fantasy, but through this, we want to give people a thought, an idea that in the end, these problems really are not all that complex."

The TVC currently on-air is a 90-second version. In the campaign that is expected to run for around eight weeks, there would be shorter edits.

In the shorter ads, a particular situation related to the campaign will be elaborated upon. A total of 12 situations have been shot for the TVC.

The campaign, which is in the initial stage of rollout, will be supported by 360-degree promotions. Also on the cards are tie-ups with environmental organisations.

Too much of a good thing?

Doubts were raised over Idea's previous campaign, which a few saw as being gimmicky. The latest campaign has evoked similar reactions.

Anand Halve, partner, Chlorophyll Brand and Communications Consultancy thinks that while the caste identification was a good idea, it started becoming melodramatic thereafter, and the 'talk for 26/11' promotion rang false.

"There is something as 'too much of a good thing'. And I think it is happening now. It is becoming bizarre. If Idea really believes in this 'idea', they should stop printing bills, advertising posters, flyers and product leaflets to become a paperless company. Now that would be an idea," he says.

Santosh Padhi, chief creative officer and chairman, Taproot India has his reservations too. According to him, the ad is not as "tight" as the previous ones. He particularly appreciates the one on politics, which, he feels, did not try too hard and told the story effortlessly.

"I feel in the current one, they tried too many things, such as social message, humour, scale, width, and Abhishek, which overpower the core idea, which is 'be digital, save paper'," Padhi says.

There, however, are some kind words as well. Ambar Chakravarty, executive creative director, Publicis Ambience appreciates the execution. According to him, the camerawork stands out, as does the editing and music.

"I liked the sombreness with which the film opens and the montage that follows. But most of all, I liked the light-hearted optimism with which Idea approached a very big problem," Chakravarty says.

However, much like Halve, he too thinks that there could be the risk of an overdose. He thinks that the quick turnover of issues may not be such a good idea. His concern is that in trying to be the brand with a lot of 'ideas', Idea may lose out on the sort of connect that one saw with Lowe's own wonderfully single-minded 'Jaago Re' campaign.

Chakravarty has his own humorous take on the ad, as he says, "Sticking Abhishek (Bachchan) into a tree was probably not necessary, now that his acting is so much better. In total, this is a very nice looking film, but I do have one personal question for Balki and his boys: 'Sirji, woh last waala joke zaroori tha kya?'

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First Published : January 11, 2010


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