Will this long ad sell OnePlus India's long battery feature?

By Ashee Sharma , afaqs!, New Delhi | In Digital
Published : October 20, 2016
Or, will it be yet another Diwali-themed story? Amit Sadh tries his best to persuade viewers for four minutes.

Talking of Diwali ads based on the homecoming theme, the brand campaign that's almost synonymous with the concept is (and no prizes for guessing that one) Maruti Suzuki's 'Ghar aa gaya Hindustan' (India comes home in a Maruti Suzuki). But, those were times when the digital fervour had not taken over. Today, the medium (digital) has become a great equaliser, and brands, big and small, are flooding the space with content, thereby making it a challenge to stand out in the clutter, especially during the festive season.

However, smartphone brand OnePlus seems to have pulled off the perfect coup with its new digital-only ad film 'The Journey'. The over-four-minute film featuring actors Amit Sadh, Zarina Wahab, and Zoya Afroz has gone viral since its release on October 16, with over two million views on YouTube alone.

OnePlus' new digital ad film 'The Journey'

The ad narrates the story of a boy who sets out to meet his girlfriend and her family on Diwali, but having reached there he changes his mind and heads home instead to give a Diwali surprise to his mother. His phone, OnePlus 3 with the 'Dash Charging' feature which gives a day's power in half an hour, assists him in this unplanned journey.

OnePlus' new digital ad film 'The Journey'

While the ad was conceptualised in-house by the brand, it has been executed by Boring Brands, the agency credited with popular digital campaigns such as the Manoj Bajpai-Raveena Tandon independence day film for Oyo Rooms, the quirky 'Cashback toh banta hai' campaign for CashKaro.com, and Urban Ladder's short film 'The Homecoming' featuring Piyush Mishra, Amit Sadh, and Taapsee Pannu.

OnePlus' new digital ad film 'The Journey'

OnePlus is an online-only brand that sells in India through an exclusive partnership with Amazon. The film is the brand's first Diwali campaign targetted at the urban youth.

Vikas Agarwal

Anshul Sushil

Vinay Jaiswal

Commenting on the insight, Vikas Agarwal, general manager - India, OnePlus, says, "Our TG is the youth, which is mainly based in the cities. During Diwali they embark on long journeys to their homes in smaller towns. The campaign highlights how our product's key value proposition - the dash charging feature - helps the protagonist in one such journey. We didn't want it to be a product promotion, but rather something which connects emotionally with our fans."

Anshul Sushil, co-founder and CEO, Boring Brands, tells us that the film was shot in Ladakh and the entire project, right from concept closure to the final edit was completed in about 15 days. But, the time crunch and the prevailing environment (in terms of weather and the tension prevailing at the border areas over the Uri attack) were not the biggest challenges facing his team, says Sushil.

"The most important task for us, as an agency, is to convince a brand that doing a digital-only campaign will get them the RoI it is looking for. While it's true that today, brands are quite excited about digital, most of the time they expect us to make videos that lend themselves to shorter edits suited for television. But, that's not how it works," he insists as he appreciates OnePlus for being a "young and aggressive" brand that allowed the agency the creative freedom to go ahead with this campaign which in the words of director Vinay Jaiswal blurs the lines between cinema and advertising.

Commenting further on the campaign execution, Sushil adds, "Cinema has taught us that whether you make a Rs 100 crore or a Rs 10 crore film, consumers must fall in love with the narrative, and for that one has to think big. The same goes for brands. We could have shot the film in Manesar/Gurgaon, but the sheer effort of going to Ladakh for a digital-only ad subtly gives the consumer an impression that OnePlus is not just another 'cheap' brand out there talking about festive sale/discount. This campaign is about brand building."

Strikes a chord?

Saad Khan

Akshat Bhardwaj

Saad Khan, vice-president - strategic planning, FCB Ulka, likes the story idea. "It touches upon a cultural conflict that men face many times - striking the right balance between two loves, the mother and the wife/fianceé, while arriving at a harmonious resolution," he says.

Khan also appreciates the film's production value, and the fact that it makes him curious to know what happens next, and uses many nuances with which people can relate.

Commenting on the brand integration strategy, he adds, "It's effortless. The phone and its fast charging feature is central to the story since it is the only mode of communication between the three characters. Also, it has been done in the right way, at the right time, and the right place. That's why the message gets communicated so easily."

Akshat Bhardwaj, creative director, DigitasLBi, thinks that while the ad starts off strong, it drags a bit along the way. "Perhaps some editing may have made it a shorter, tighter film. The idea is good, but I think the end could have been better," he points out.

According to Bhardwaj, while the brand is quite visible and the integration isn't jarring, he is doubtful about the idea of two families meeting for the first time on Diwali via video call, but leaves it for the audience to judge.

"The film does call for some exciting digital extensions such as conversations around people's journeys on Diwali, and in general. At first thought, a lot could be done using maps and travel portals," he suggests.

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