By Malay Desai
From: O&M (Vodafone) and Taproot (Airtel)
Two newly launched campaigns from Vodafone and Airtel tow the emotional line to promote their services for smartphones. In Vodafone’s campaign titled ‘Speed is good’, a senior executive is shown quietly packing up on his last day at work, before one of his colleagues gets to know of his retirement and clicks a selfie with him. He is later greeted by a bunch of colleagues with a song and a framed picture with messages. In the Airtel spot, after an old school mate spots the gang’s ice-cream seller still with his cart outside their school, the gang surprises him by turning up and gifting him an ice-cream truck.
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Senti is the new sexy, 50-plus is the new 20-plus – or so it seems. I usually don't compare chalk with cheese here but the sheer timing of our two telco giants’ new commercials makes me wonder if both their creative bosses are old mates sharing nostalgic notes.
Greying men asking for sympathy – check, young people teaming up to show their nice sides and tugging your emotional chord – check, sentimental happy selfie – check. Well done Airtel and Vodafone, you’ve both passed your mid-term exams, the latter with distinction. Let me explain why.
Both the characters here – a middle-class officerand the old ice-cream vendor, are guys from our lives, but the former is more so. He’s probably our dad, or that uncle we know, or that nice guy from SBI. Ogilvy, ever so good at churning out emotionally intriguing films, takes this premise to a greater level with filming – the shot where the uncle turns back assuming the song party isn’t for him is just delightful.
Taproot’s film for Airtel features more service features (like its controversial ‘wife cooking for subordinate hubby’ film) and hence dilutes the emotional pull that we feel throughout Voda’s film. The senti-meter relies on the premise – school mates reuniting to surprise old ice-cream man – and not the filming and screenplay. There’s hardly any touching of emotional chords here, just a ‘oh, nice’ feeling because c’mon, an ice-cream truck is just too much of a Boston than a Borivli idea. (Taproot’s January film for Birla Sun Life is on the top of my senti-meter).
By the way, notice how both the surprises are generic/universal and not typically desi?
Now, the debatable bit.Why would a telecom giant, wait, two of them at once –feature an old character as lead when most of us smartphone users are in our 20s and 30s? My guess is simple – the real heroes are the guys who plan the surprise, hence communicating that ‘you young smartphone users are nice people too, once in a while in-between partying and Whatsapping, you care for dumb phone users too!’ And we, the network guys, are your allies.
Bottomline –Voda’s film, just like its network, is better than Airtel’s– in unexpected corners.
(Look up ‘Vodafone India’ and ‘Airtel India’ on YouTube to watch these films)
Your regular dose on the shifts in the social media universe
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Order food on Whatsapp (and from Ola Café) now
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