Friday, May 29, 2015

VIP’s Blind Girl Ad: A Not So VIP Treatment?

Everyone wants to travel. Be it poor, rich or from a middle income group, they all wish to travel to their dream destinations given they have time and adequate money. Catching on this insight, the Indian luggage manufacturer, VIP has launched its latest campaign titled 'Where Do You Want To Go'.

Set in an Indian household, a young girl is seen getting ready to leave for a vacation with while her family is apprehensive on how she will manage alone as she is specially-abled and cannot see. She hugs her grandfather to assure him that she will be safe with her friends. In the end the protagonists is seen having a good time with her friends at a foreign destination with a voice over surmising, "Light, sturdy, easy to move bags from VIP. Where do you wanna go?"

It is definitely an emotional advertisement, where a young specially-abled girl is willing to travel to foreign destinations with her friends, something which is less heard or seen at least in the Indian context. But the question is, where is the connect with the brand?

The brand's idea behind the TVC is that everyone likes to travel and if people will travel more then only they will need the luggage, and hence, the bags which the brand creates would be used more and the brand would grow in its category. "We believe that the travel should be done by everyone, then be it a normal or a specially-abled person as it makes them feel good and happy. And if people travel then only the luggage category will grow and become large. The idea of featuring a specially-abled protagonist was that if normal people can travel, then they also can travel," adds Sudip Ghose, Vice President, Marketing, VIP Industries.

Prasoon Joshi, Chairman, McCann Worldgroup Asia Pacific, (the agency that conceptualized and designed the TVC), says, "'Where do you want to go?' is an attempt to portray the change in the new confident India through the differently-abled whilst subtly displaying the new collection of VIP. This creative thought is built around celebrating the new emotions around the journeys that Indians are undertaking, and the story of the blind girl as a protagonist is a creative metaphor which represents the emotions of a new and bolder India that is forging ahead. The entire team has stayed true to VIP as a luggage brand which has always remained part of Indian popular culture and this commercial represents its contemporary role in the Indian society."

The question here arises is what the advertisement wants to say? Is it that with the VIP bags people can travel light, then why there is a need to feature a specially-abled girl or if it is like exploring the passion or aspiration of traveling, then why only show the aspiration of one single person in the family, and why not show others?

We think that the ad does not clearly define what it wants to showcase. In the press communique, the brand also exhibits its new range via this campaign but then there is no visual or time spent on showing how different the bag is from its previous range. It is one of the cases, where a brand tried to do too many things in one single campaign but couldn't manage it.

Speaking further about the campaign, Pradyumna Chauhan, National Creative Director, McCann Erickson, says that VIP is an iconic brand and we have grown up with them and their current day products are light and sturdy and could be used to travel anywhere. "We could have used a normal person instead of a specially-abled girl for this campaign for example a struggling artist, but then the story would have shaped in a different way, however the product then also would have remained the same. Current campaign with a specially-abled girl is a heart-warming and a compassionate one."

Another question that arises here is that would the campaign have looked different even if there was a normal protagonist instead of a specially-abled girl. Is it to break the clutter in the category or to just make it appear more dramatized?

Brand consultant Sridhar Ramanujam, founder and CEO, Brand-comm points that it is a usual luggage ad and not a path breaking one apart from the fact that here the protagonist is a specially-abled girl. "Once the ad is gone, people will not remember the brand because the TVC does not have a recall value but will only remember the girl. It does not capture the aspirations as the campaign says 'Where do you want to go'. Adding a specially-abled protagonist in the commercial is just like adding a hook into it."

To this, Ghose of VIP Industries adds that they are not in a usual category and here advertising is not easy.

The media plan for this campaign is across the mediums such as digital and TV. The brand has also tied up with an NGO 'Make a Wish' where it is attempting to fulfill the wishes of specially-abled children of which many have requested to travel. VIP has decided to fulfill their wishes and is supporting their travel along with their family.

The advertising from VIP has seen many phases. In the 90s it was about reunion with the tagline 'Kal bhi Aaj bhi', where it showcased how the brand moved ahead with the people in their lives. Later the brand started focusing on its style and looks which was further followed by other features such as lightness, spacious and easy to move. In recent days the brand has adopted more contemporary look and trying to connect with the youth.

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