Conceptualised and executed by Lowe Lintas, the mobile commerce platform, FreeCharge has a new ad campaign that is weaved around the concept of 'Time is money'. But is it just old wine in a new bottle? Hasn't the brand already gone the millennial route before?
The new campaign encompasses four TVCs reflecting FreeCharge as an enabler of easy and quick mobile recharges, DTH payments, electric bill payments, and transactions through the Unified Payments Interface (UPI) among other financial services. The campaign's aim is to position FreeCharge as the convenient and easy choice for digital natives making payments and money transfers.
Since demonetisation, the push for digital wallets has been immense. Today, the user is spoilt for choice when it comes to UPI payment options. Given the fact that major market rivals (Paytm, Mobikwik, GoogleTez etc.) have made some prolific investments in the recent past, i.e. post demonetisation, FreeCharge's new campaign seems a little late.
According to Sangram Singh, CEO, FreeCharge, the focus for the brand, post-acquisition by Axis Bank (from Snapdeal for Rs 385 crore in July 2017), has been to grow the business and create stronger capabilities. He states, "During this period, we have significantly added to our product offering as well as partnerships."
Further, Singh also says, "We've seen a very healthy growth and have acquired more than two and a half million new customers over this period. Our user base has grown over nearly 50 per cent from the time of acquisition. We felt that this is the perfect opportunity/time for us to deepen consumer engagement with digital natives through a national campaign."
Singh explains why the brand chose this time for the campaign, "During recent times, millions of customers have been added to the FreeCharge UPI platform. However, even with the relative fast pace of UPI adoption, only a fraction of the nearly 90 Cr banked population in India is currently active on any digital platform. Hence, the opportunity to invest in building salience for the product still exists and that is what we are aiming to leverage."
Naturally, there will be pros and cons involved for a fairly late entrant in the digital payment service segment since it's quite a broad category covering mobile payments, cards, wallets, PPI, net banking, UPI, IMPS etc.
"At an overall level, these transactions add up to over 1.5Bn which is a significant increase compared to a few years back. However, as per various estimates, this still accounts for 15-20 per cent of the total transactions. Hence, in spite of the strong growth, digital payments still have a lot of headroom," and that's the reason, Singh predicts, is why they will continue to see significant efforts and investments in the domain.
"After the Axis Bank takeover, we have been consolidating our priorities. We believe that multiple players in the digital financial services ecosystem will have a key role to play in giving a strong impetus to enabling digital disruption in India. At FreeCharge, we believe that consumer understanding and the ability to solve his/her problem will be a key to a successful brand," he adds.
According to Singh, while briefing the agency, the brand always maintained a certain attitude and tonality which connects with their target audience.
The brief was simple yet challenging. Singh elaborates, "The challenge was to get the undivided attention of millennials who are bombarded with cashbacks, offers and discount messages every second and also build relevance for the ease of making payments with the FreeCharge App. We wanted the agency to capture the tonality of this generation with a tinge of humour and wit."
Interestingly, there was a time when we didn't mind watching advertisements on television thanks to the catchy jingles and memorable models and mascots. Jingles/signature tunes play an important role in brand association whether they're good, bad, catchy or annoying. It's no wonder that brand owners and advertisers extended these signature tunes and jingles to multiple mediums in the past.
While these jingles are intrusive by their very nature, they nonetheless inculcate a sense of recall; sometimes even forcing us to sing or hum the tune long after they're over.
Let's revisit some of those hummable and memorable ad tunes and hope you've also had fun recalling the good old days:
• DTH player Tata Sky's 'Family Jingalala' campaign - Created by Ogilvy & Mather, featuring Big B.
• Ponds - 2009 Googly Woogly Woosh
• Idea Internet Network's - You're My Pumpkin Pumpkin, Hello Honey Bunny!
• Happy To Help Vodafone, 2009 - Oye Bubbly
• Pepsi, 2005
Arun Iyer, chairman and CCO, Lowe Lintas, feels it captures the entitled attitude of this generation in a humorous way, "The ad is pitching to the youngsters, precisely the 18-24 age bracket and is done with zest, given the fact that most of the youngsters today, want to do something meaningful and big."
He does, however, maintain that it could get lost in the cashback crowd and fade out eventually, saying, "You can't run away from the product. We had to find a way to package the offering in the most interesting way possible."
So, catch-line/ signature tunes/ brand tagline-- what's the right term to use here?
Iyer would prefer calling it a campaign tagline more than a brand tagline (It's Slick. It's Quick. Chik-chika-chik-chik)
ALSO READ: A twist in the advertising tune
Music acts as a memory trigger and using a non-conventional medium definitely helps in establishing a connect with the brand. The catchphrase, although not commonly used, can serve the purpose quite well if used in multiple ads and promoted via the right media strategy.
According to Sabuj Sengupta, national creative director, Hakuhodo India, the ad is exactly the way the catch line is, bereft of any sense or meaning.
What Sengupta finds bizarre is that while the protagonist says her hands are meant for big things, eventually they end up being used to do something really small, like recharging her DTH.
"The intended humour remains intended only," he says and quips that if given the chance, he would totally change the concept.
The ad, (although it may have looked promising theoretically), with a script which could have been tighter and quirkier, has only garnered 5M+ views overall and got less than a few hundred interactions on YouTube at the time of penning this post.
Viraj Rohan Circar, executive creative director, Grapes Digital, is partly impressed with the comic timing that it offers and the characters, "I like how the campaign includes the new 'woke' millennial. Not quite sure about the money line though.
"I see what they're trying to do with the 'Chik Chika Chik Chik', but it feels a little forced to me. Having said that, these things sometimes have a way of catching on that defies any logical analysis," he says adding, "I think with 'Chik Chika Chik Chik', FreeCharge is attempting to leverage cultural parlance that connotes quickness and ease to add an accent to their proposition (It's Slick. It's Quick.)."
A quick look at some of the ads released by online recharge platform FreeCharge in the past:
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