"We pitched this concept to Dove and they loved it": Siddharth Narula, President, Culture Machine

By Suraj Ramnath , afaqs!, Mumbai | In Advertising
Published : August 16, 2016
Titled 'Is that you?', the video was created for Culture Machine's digital channel 'Blush'. It challenges beauty stereotypes perpetuated by nursery rhymes.

Blush, the digital channel from the stables of the digital media company Culture Machine, has along with Unilever's personal care brand Dove, launched a new digital film. Titled 'Is that You?', the video, which features Indian women athletes, has been launched under the new campaign #ChangeTheRhyme.

Interestingly, the famous nursery rhyme 'Chubby Cheeks, Rosy Lips...' is used as the background score for the video. However, the rhyme makes you wonder if this is the first seed sown of a singular beauty ideal that young girls are exposed to. The video 'Is that You?' compels the audience to question this singular beauty ideal.

Siddharth Narula

We asked Siddharth Narula, vice-president, Culture Machine, if the film was made keeping a brand like Dove in mind. He says, "We made the video for our digital channel 'Blush', keeping in mind a beauty product that dares to be different, relevant, and real. We pitched the concept to Dove, and it loved the idea."

In general, brands give a brief and the respective agencies have to work within that brief. But, in the case of Culture Machine, it had already worked on the film. We asked Narula if it was difficult to work without a brief, and this is what he had to say.

"Brands, today, are very conscious. They want to associate with great content, it does not really mean that we don't work on briefs, but sometimes, the content is so good that the brand wants to be a part of it. It is great to partner with a brand such as Dove, which globally does such brilliant content. And, it is time India took the lead."

Talking about the challenges faced and the time taken to shoot the film, he says, "It took us two days to shoot the video, and one day to record the rhyme with the children. The biggest challenge was to shoot in the rain. But, it eventually worked out well for us, as the hockey girls playing in the rain looked more dramatic."

He adds, "The other big challenge was shooting with 'non-actors'. All the girls are real athletes, who cannot be asked to 'fake' emotions. But, by the time they got into their game, they forgot the cameras were rolling, and their true passion was captured."

When asked about the overload of sports-based videos, or what some are calling the 'Da da ding effect', he says, "The idea of 'Chubby Cheeks' had already taken form before Da Da Ding went Live. And, being a sporting season, it didn't come as a surprise when every other day a sports film was trending."

He adds, "What kept us going was the absolute knowledge of where we're coming from, the purpose of the film, the point it's making, the stand it takes, and the manner in which it's doing that. We knew that we were completely different from everything else that had been viewed until now. If this one stood out from the inundation of sports-themed videos, our job was done."

Readers would recollect that in the recent past, there have been plenty of TV and digital ads based on the Rio Olympics. We asked our experts if the ad film has in it to stand out among those and would have a high recall.

Carlton DSilva

Carlton D'Silva, chief executive officer and chief creative officer, Hungama Digital Services, a WPP-owned company, says, "Commercials made with the Olympics in mind are cliched with the formula of a narrative and powerful imagery ... The Nike 'Da da ding' commercial does stand out because of its catchy tune, but I wonder if it does much for the brand. But, from the lot, the Dove video 'Is that You?' does the job best."

Talking about the execution, D'Silva says, "I am surprised I have not come across the film (it has surpassed a million views in four days). I loved the thought and the execution. In spite of all the brands latching on to the Olympics fever, this one does stand out on its own. I love the fact that it starts off slow and it keeps you thinking and when it reaches the crescendo the message is just perfect."

Navin Kansal, national creative director, Indigo Consulting, a digital agency that belongs to Leo Burnett, says, "Among the slew of topical videos created around the Rio Olympics, the sheer earnestness of the 'Rukna Nahi Hai' campaign by JSW Steel is a stand out."

He adds, "It does not make any tall claims for women's empowerment, does not have the ear-worminess of a Da Da Ding, yet comes across as a powerful piece of content that is rooted in reality and the circumstances in which most of our athletes grow up and train."

Navin Kansal

Giving his views on the execution, Kansal says, "The idea of using a nursery rhyme that we have all heard as children is pretty much on the ball and conveys what Dove as a brand stands for in terms of challenging conventional notions of beauty. The execution could have been a lot tighter since the rather long-drawn out duration of the film belabours the point."

A look at some of the RIO Olympics based ads that have been released in the recent past.

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