All in a bid to entertain consumers into ditching Swiggy, Zomato.
Most Millennials and some others who were exposed to Indian television during the '90s will surely recall ads like Dhara's 'Jalebi boy', the Cadbury Dairy Milk girl with her strange dance on the cricket field or even Nirma Super's 'Deepikaji' with her 'paar ki nazar' for 'sasta' options. Hitting the nostalgia button, online food delivery platform Uber Eats' latest digital campaign - 'Purane prices, Naya app' - brings a little bit of those three iconic ads back to life. The campaign is a collective of three digital ad films titled - The Flatmates, The Classroom and The Office - each one cashing in on the popularity of those three classics.
Apart from maintaining a similar jingle, storyline and rehashed dialogues, 'The Flatmates' video features the original Jalebi boy, Parzaan Dastur. In this rendition, Dastur, now all grown-up, leaves his apartment with bags packed as he feels quite ignored by his flatmates. However, he promptly returns when he finds out they've ordered biryani via Uber Eats.
The second ad, i.e. 'The Classroom', pays homage to the famous Dairy Milk TVC complete with the famous 'Kuch khaas hain' tune and corresponding wild dance routine. Here, the girl is portrayed as a student who celebrates a successful food order placed on Uber Eats while still in class.
The third in the series, 'The Office', showcases a new-age office-going 'Deepikaji', but one who shares the same 'paar ki nazar' (a keen eye) for the best options available just like her counterpart from the '90s ad. While the Deepika from the original TVC chooses the cheaper and better Nirma Super, the new one opts for the newer, more affordable Uber Eats options over the alternatives.
The videos have so much more than mere "Easter Eggs" that allow viewers to reminisce; the comparison is quite obvious and makes a bold statement in today's digital-first arena, especially for online food ordering platforms which are still spreading their wings.
The ads were conceptualised by the in-house creative team at Uber Eats.
afaqs! got in touch with Namita Katre, head of brand, strategy and campaigns - Uber Eats, to find out more about 'Purane prices, Naya app'.
In Katre's words, the ads were more of a tribute to the iconic ads of the past and aimed at evoking nostalgia while still delivering the brand's message.
"We went back to the brands like Mondelez and Dhara and shared the idea that we were interested in recreating their ads as a tribute. We carried only the basics like the storylines and music, which are symbolic. Although we haven't named the brands, the ads are a compliment," Katre says.
Speaking about the selection of the three ads chosen for the campaign, Katre says, "We had a lot of iconic ads to choose from, but we picked the ones which had the strongest emotional connect with viewers. Some scored more than others and had a better connect for us to be able to weave in a message of not only '90s nostalgia but '90s prices too. They provided us with a rich creative springboard."
We also asked about the 'naya-purana' tag that is a bit edgy in a new-ish genre like online food ordering and delivery. Katre explains that the 'naya' or newness of Uber Eats simply means that the brand isn't amongst the first movers in the online food delivery space. "We are the newest kid in the block. This messaging helps us convey that Uber Eats is a new app while inviting people to get on-board because of our value for money offering," Katre states.
About why Uber Eats chose to go ahead with its in-house creative team instead of roping in an advertising agency, Katre explains, "We use agencies who are external partners depending on what we are working on. On this one, it was the in-house team's understanding of the nuances of value communication, the category, the competition, and more than anything else, speed, agility and nimbleness that our internal agency brought to the fore. We do work with external agencies occasionally when we are looking for fresh perspective and the depth of a collective experience."
Turning to industry experts:
Ramanujam Sridhar, CEO and founder of Brand-Comm, is of the opinion that although the ad films did a fairly good job at cuing a '90s memory, they seem self-indulgent and made from an ad person's perspective.
"The idea was 'purane zamane ka prices'. McDonald's did something like this some years back with a spoof/ mimicry of veteran Bollywood actors while delivering a brand message of a pocket-friendly price from a previous era. It's the same thought. Again, invoking memories of '90s ads and the brand's price point is a bit stretched," Sridhar says.
"The brand has tried to replicate them quite well; the only question is - could there have been a more creative way of looking at it? Advertising is not as mainstream as films or music. Maybe people do remember ads from the '90s, but is it the most important thing? Three popular songs from the '90s could have been a better deal," Sridhar adds.
Speaking about the selection of the ads, Sridhar says, "I think Rekha, Jaya and Sushma, from the Nirma jingle, were more popular. The Dairy Milk ad was popular, the Dhara ad, I'm not so sure; but will the average person recall all these ads?"
The ads from the 'Purane prices, Naya app' campaign, are more like a breath of fresh air for Ashish khazanchi, managing partner, Enormous Brands.
"In an environment where every brand is trying to ride on meaningless platitudes of purpose and meaning to get traction with the youth, this one gets the love in a cheeky way. The casting for the ad referencing Dhara is a minor coup. Somewhere we've forgotten that brands do have a purpose and it's not always to imbue the consumer's life with highfalutin meaning. I miss that about advertising. My feeling is, so do the consumers. We no longer live in a time where you create an ad and it stays forever. The pace is more important. It has been done well. There might be minor flaws, but they are not relevant," Khazanchi says.
About the selection of the ads for the campaign, Khazanchi says plainly, "I like the Dhara and Dairy Milk ads more, but the Nirma ad could have been different."
Amitabh Bachchan and Horlicks have been at the receiving end of public scrutiny for a few days now. Nutrition Advocacy in Public Interest, a national-level advocacy group, has written to Bachchan asking him to not endorse GSK Consumer Healthcare’s milk food drink Horlicks.
The advocacy group wrote an open letter to Bachchan after the brand announced its association with the star. The group asked Bachchan to withdraw his association with the brand on the grounds that Horlicks has high sugar content and that its consumption can lead to obesity in children and non-communicable diseases later in life.
While Bachchan has not come out with an official response on whether he will disassociate with the brand or go ahead with the deal, whatever decision he will make is unlikely to impact his brand image much.
Considering his celebrity status and the nature of the controversy, this one is likely to blow over. But what should brand ambassadors do if they find themselves associated with a brand that has landed itself in a controversy?
BestMediaInfo.com spoke to a few brand experts to know their take on the same.
According to Sharda Agarwal, Co-founder, Sepalika, there are two kinds of controversies: one is where the brand ambassador and the world in general is aware of the ill-effects of the products, for example any cola brand, and the other is when you cannot foretell the problem a brand might fall into, for example the Nirav Modi case.
“Horlicks falls under the first category. The brand is seen as unhealthy by a large section of the people. Here, both the brand and the brand ambassador are subject to a certain level of due diligence. When a brand approaches a brand ambassador it will check whether the person is in sync with the persona of the brand. The same should be undertaken from the brand ambassador’s side as well. It is not just about popularity, a brand ambassador should see whether the brand furthers his/her image as well,” Agarwal.
Agarwal puts the onus of research and background check on the celebrity before taking up an endorsement opportunity and accessing whether the brand fits the ambassador’s personal brand image.
In 2017, Virat Kohli had refused to renew his multi-crore deal with PespiCo on the grounds that the product was unhealthy.
This is in all fairness a preventive measure but what happens when you are already involved with the brand and a controversy breaks out?
Since the 1970s, Nike has been accused of using sweatshops to produce their footwear and clothing items. While Nike initially denied the accusations and shirked responsibility saying they had no control over what happened in factories overseas, the brand eventually owned up to their responsibility in ensuring proper working conditions and remuneration for their factory employees. Beginning in 2002, Nike began auditing its factories for occupational health and safety issues.
For a celebrity associated with the brand during those years, it would have been very difficult to know about the sweatshops till the issue came out in open. In such a case there are a few steps that a celebrity can take.
According to Sam Balsara, Managing Director, Madison World and Madison Communication, if such a situation arises, the ad featuring the ambassador should be taken off air.
“Basically, both the brand and the celebrity should agree that this is a marriage for a limited period of time. But should certain circumstances lead one or the other to come into a controversy, possibly the best solution is to suspend the ad till the controversy dies down,” said Balsara.
Vibha Desai, Director, Vibha Desai Consulting, is of the opinion that brand ambassadors should put a clause in their contacts that makes it possible for them to terminate their association with the brand if the brand finds itself in a controversy.
“Once you have signed a contract, there is very little that one can do. The only way to deal with such a scenario is to include a clause in the contract that would make the contract null and void should anything of the sort arise,” said Desai.
While it is easy to ask a brand ambassador to distance herself/himself from the brand it is not that simple once the contract has been signed. But Ramanujam Sridhar, Founder, Brand-comm, said that the ambassador should still dissociate from the brand in order to safeguard their personal image and brand value.
Jagdeep Kapoor, MD, Samsika Marketing Consultants is of the view that just like brands drop celebrities when they find themselves in a quagmire, celebrities too should have the same right.
Snapdeal decided not to renew their contract with Amir Khan because of the actor’s comments on the perceived intolerance in the country. More recently, ABC, an American commercial broadcast television network, decided to cancel the reboot of their show Roseanne after the lead star of the show, Roseanne Barr, made some racist comments on Twitter.
Ad spend may get a boost as consumption picks up in rural
With spending in rural going up on the back of a prediction of good rainfall, higher minimum support prices for crops, various government welfare schemes and increased infrastructure spending, major brands are likely to loosen their purse strings on advertising and marketing
The period of lull for India's media sector may end soon as the adex of FMCG players, auto companies and mobile and electronics brands is likely to see an uptick in the coming months.
What may bring cheer to the country's top media houses is the increased consumption in rural India, which has grown at more than 13% in the last fiscal and is projected to grow even more in the current year on the back of expectations of a good rainfall, increased government spending on welfare schemes and infrastructure before the next general elections and also the festive season that will kick in from September onwards.
Sale of farm equipment such as tractors has already been in the fast lane for some time now. Urban is also witnessing a similar growth consumption, though not as high as in rural areas.
"There has been an increase in demand from rural. Rural is doing very well now. We saw an improvement in 2017 and in 2018, we are really gung-ho about rural. Rural is the economy that is going to grow pretty fast, said Parle Products Category head BK Rao.
Patanjali's spokesperson, SK Tijarawala said, "The rural market has picked up. Today, someone from the rural area is also looking to consume the same things as the urban consumer. The difference between urban living and rural living has been reduced. GST has also played a role in this as it has made the entire nation a single market."
Patanjali intends to spend 15% more towards rural marketing spend in the current fiscal.
The biggest gainer of this growth in consumption is likely to be FMCG and auto companies and they could be the first ones to put in more money towards advertising and marketing.
Several research and media agencies have predicted the adex to be around Rs 54,000 crore in the current financial year with TV and print getting a share of 38%-37% each.
"As far as Hamdard is concerned, we are increasing our spend in rural every year by 15-20%. We believe that there is a lot of growth potential in rural areas. So, we are investing more in direct distribution, activation in rural areas, and other marketing activities," Mansoor Ali, Chief Sales and Marketing Officer, Hamdard said.
Sandeep Verma, President, Bajaj Corp, said, "In FMCG, advertising spends increase because there has been increase in consumption in rural areas which depends on last year’s good monsoon and various steps taken by government such as better minimum support price for crops. Putting more money in the hands of farmers and the rural consumer increases their disposable and income boosts consumption. After a sluggish growth in the last two years, everyone is expecting robust growth from rural as the economy is coming back on track."
"Immediate impact of a good monsoon is always on consumer durables, automobiles or other categories for which people plan with the prediction. We expect rural market to grow at 1.5 times of urban growth. This year the growth is expected to be better than the previous year. Advertising spend across categories is expected to grow at 14-15% while our ad spend growth will be slightly higher at 15 to 18%," Verma added.
Talking about Parle's advertising and marketing plans, Rao said, "Yes, we are spending more on marketing in the rural markets. First and foremost, we are doing more leg work and trying to reach more outlets and more villages where there is no access. We are trying to reach as many retail footprints and retail outlets as possible. That itself is basically offering great service. Ensuring your product is distributed to the smallest of villages or outlets in the hinterlands is extremely challenging and it is expensive as well because there are lots of costs attached to it but by virtue of us having one of the robust distribution channels in the FMCG space we are at an advantage and we are further improving upon on our retail footprint in the retail market so that will continue as an initiative. Besides that, even on the media front we advertise on Doordarshan. It forms an important mix of our media which helps us reach the rural market. There are the free-to-air channels like Star Bharat or Anmol or Utsav and so we make use of all these platforms to reach the rural audience."
RS Sodhi, Managing Director of Gujarat Co-operative Milk Marketing Federation (GCMMF), said, "In the last 2-3 years, cost of raw materials has reduced considerably but MRPs has not reduced. So, when you get slightly more margin and register volume growth, you are likely to spend more to further accelerate the growth. Earlier, margins were under pressure because of several reasons such as demonetisation or GST. Now that the growth is back on track, ad spend is bound to increase. If I talk about our products, I have never seen such kind of volume growth across our entire range of products."
Brand and marketing experts feel digital will also drive demand in the rural and some companies could also consider spending more on digital to reach out to rural consumers. Ramanujam Sridhar, Founder CEO, Brand-comm, said, "Globally when you try to evaluate how an economy is doing, developed economies keep looking at things like automotive sales, etc. In our case, over the last few years, there has been a real boom in the automotive sector, whether it is two-wheelers or four-wheelers. So, the overall mood is quite positive."