Guess who's back? Vodafone's Asha and Bala...

By Ananya Pathak , afaqs!, New Delhi | In Advertising
Published : July 09, 2019 04:30 AM
... in the latest ad campaign for Vodafone SuperNet 4G.

After a break of more than a year-and-a-half, Vodafone Idea has brought back its popular grandma-grandpa brand ambassadors - C.P. Shanta (75) and V.P. Dhananjayan (80), aka Asha and Bala - for 4G. In the two TVCs released as part of the campaign #LiveMore, the sprightly couple is seen inaugurating a new restaurant - Asha's Kitchen.

In a press release issued by the brand, Kavita Nair, chief digital transformation and brand officer, Vodafone Idea, says, "The new campaign captures #LiveMore moments from the life of an old, but young-at-heart couple who achieve their dream of owning a successful restaurant. Asha and Bala help us in bridging a technology divide and enable our aim of democratising technology."

Apart from the current campaign, the real-life couple from Chennai has featured in nine Vodafone TVCs and four digital films so far. The award-winning Bharatanatyam-dancing duo has been a part of Vodafone's #TheFutureIsExciting campaign from November 2017.

The couple that caught everyone's attention during IPL 2017, when the brand promoted its #MakeTheMostOfNow campaign, told afaqs!, in an earlier interview just how they became the brand ambassadors for the telecom company. Dhananjayan said, "Nirvana Films (production house) approached us to do this (#MakeTheMostOfNow) campaign. When I heard that Prakash Varma was directing the Vodafone ads, which were written by Ogilvy, we ventured into it." Shanta added, "When we were approached, it sounded pretty interesting and we really didn't think this was going to end up becoming such a large scale campaign. It turned out to be very different from what we had envisaged earlier."

ALSO READ: Meet Padma Bhushan awardees turned Vodafone actors: Shanta and Dhananjayan

Vodafone Idea's creative agency, Ogilvy & Mather India, conceptualised the latest campaign.

Kiran Antony Kiran Antony

Discussing the campaign, Kiran Antony, CCO, Ogilvy South and Team Vodafone, was quoted as saying in a press release - "People today are no longer afraid to step out of their comfort zone and try new things. Through the #LiveMore campaign, we wanted to capture this spirit of new India. The campaign follows Asha and Bala on their newest adventure. Thanks to Vodafone, they are able to laugh, learn and do more almost instantly."

Since their first appearance in the brand's TVC, Asha and Bala have been credited for breaking the stereotype of featuring the younger generation in a service targeted mainly at the millennial. We asked the experts whether the latest ad films live up to the hype created by the duo.

Ravinder Siwach Ravinder Siwach

Ravinder Siwach, national creative director, Havas, says, "What was really charming about the duo earlier was that they were shown to be dealing with the whole 'smartphone thing' for the first time. They were a little uncomfortable and vulnerable and that made the whole series very heart-warming, a real joy to watch. In this campaign, that vulnerability is missing and the novelty of the characters has worn off. Having said that, it's always a bigger challenge to do a sequel to a great first campaign. I still like the whole Bala playing second fiddle angle with these two. Let's hope the stories evolve into something more interesting in the upcoming ads."

He adds, "As for stretching the Asha and Bala stories as a creative device, it depends entirely on the execution. The complete campaign is yet to be launched; I don't see any fatigue from the audience yet. This may change quickly if these don't match the expectation of the earlier ones."

Commenting on how the brand can further leverage the popularity of the duo, Siwach says, "If it was up to me, I would make them the hosts of one of those couple shows on MTV or plant them intelligently (as Asha and Bala) in a popular web-series where they put Vodafone to good use."

KV Sridhar KV Sridhar

KV Sridhar, founder and chief creative officer, Hyper Collective, finds it difficult to comment on the interest generated by the couple in this campaign unless all the creatives are out. He feels that a brand can leverage a brand ambassador only if he/she becomes popular and is well recognised as the face of the brand.

According to him, the telecom landscape has changed today. "Earlier, most of the brands in the category used to do their best to communicate. It was a creative and innovative space. However, the ads today are emotionless. They are neither interesting nor creative. They aren't disruptive. The entire category is falling back. The lack of innovation is allowing the brands to die one more death. The scenario will change only if some 'great' ad takes the category up," he says.

When talking about how can Vodafone Idea can leverage the popularity of the duo, he adds, "The brand can use the characters better on digital platforms. It might help to reach out to a wider customer base."

Tamanna Virmani Tamanna Virmani

Tamanna Virmani, creative partner and ECD, Verms Communications, says, "The ads are refreshing to watch. But when you think of 4G, you think of the younger, impatient generation which wants to consume data non-stop. And here you have an older couple, doing things at their own pace, but when it comes to uploading pictures, they do it with the speed of light."

"Usually, super-fast data speed is associated with the younger generation. I didn't mind the ads, but saying it is 4G data and then showing the older couple where not much madness or action is happening, you actually defeat the purpose of establishing 4G," she adds.

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