Flipkart ad campaign is my favourite, says TRA Research's N Chandramouli

Topics Flipkart | ad campaigns

Which is your favourite campaign and why?

I wanted to choose a campaign which had a long run, instead of one which a sudden burst. So my favourite in that sense is the Flipkart campaign, which features children playing characters who are adults. That, to me, is one of the best executions ever done for a long-term, sustainable concept. It's running even now. When it first came, it made huge waves; the expressions of the kids duplicate those of adults,  and those make you smile for sure. The creative rendition of it has been superb and the brand has been extremely brave to be able to take this new approach. Usually, it is just about getting a celebrity or getting in some kind of "buy now, get discount" approach. If I am not mistaken, for one particular season they did not use that (the campaign). So in that phase, Flipkart wasn't seen in the same light and they had to bring it back. They must be having at least 50-60 renditions of different situations where the children are put in, but to still be able to get the creative output that is as strong as the first is very very difficult. And since they get that, it is very special.

What do you feel is the key idea behind this campaign?

The key idea is to make it memorable. Today, there is a lot of clutter and advertisers are doing dynamite fishing. Despite noise against noise not being a good idea, all brands are doing that. Visually, and also in terms of story, it is a clutter-breaker and it stays as a mnemonic in your mind. For example, I remember the child's moustache because it has been done authentically. It's so cutely done that you will start believing they are adults despite knowing that they are children. Here (in e-commerce) there are only two players and that is all the more reason that you have to come up with something which everybody remembers. So the main purpose of the brand engagement has been achieved to a high degree.

How challenging does scripting become for such long-term campaigns?

Extremely challenging — you can say it is similar to Amul advertisements. But with Amul, given that its takes are based on topical elements, you can at least relate to things. But here, creators have taken everyday situations; emotions of different flavours have been used. Now even after that, a lot of advertisers wrongly believe that if they have made the customer smile or weep a little, they have got it. But a true emotional appeal is only when some part of your heart feels warm for a long time. Since that is the challenge in scripting, I feel the brand here has taken a very positive-oriented approach towards the agency. The clients can be oppressive with such concepts but the execution here shows the openness of Flipkart.

On what parameters did you base your decision?

The first is the basic sense of connection it brings for the viewer — the emotional appeal and not just the emotion. There is a distinctive charm that you don't feel all the time. The second is the consistency of delivery. Now even for the second version of a movie, you feel that it has gone down the drain. But the sheer variety of Flipkart ads shows how well the creators understand that the customer won't engage with the same ad. They have not gone with an approach where they show the same celebrity again and again. They have taken the creative, yet tough, route. The third is that they have been disruptive. Getting children is no big deal but the right children to form the cast, the right creative director, and the right client and agency have ensured that this is not a “recreatable” product.

N Chandramouli, Chief executive officer, TRA Research
Do you remember this campaign winning an award? Do advertising awards serve any purpose?

I am not sure about this winning any award. Now to answer the latter part of your question, advertising awards don't serve any purpose. Truly speaking, it's a self-serving exercise. Most awards are like that. The jury is such that it hardly takes the consumer into consideration. One angst I have is that you don’t look at who is at the centre of your business? The generic statement that it's the consumer is also the truth of it. Today there is enough touting of the way that awards go.

And even beyond advertising, we all know the truth of the film awards. Some like the Oscars where the viewer is also taken into consideration, instead of only creatives judging other creatives, still matter. But with advertisement awards, there is no research on whether it fuelled consumer desire. And my view is that unless there is any consumer input it deciding awards, they should be banned.

That’s an extreme view…

May be but awards should mean something. They should not be rigged or influenced. Like a sportsperson is judged on the basis of his or her performance inch by inch before winning an award; that should be the case everywhere. Even a split second difference can lead to another person winning it. That's how it should be everywhere, otherwise, those (awards) are just confusing for the consumer.

What else can be done to make this campaign better because viewer fatigue will also set in at some point?

Viewer fatigue will set in only if the instances become boring. If you have 100 renditions, 10 of them may be rejected and dropped. That is normal in a creative process, but as long as you bring consumer insights to vet the ad and not leave it to three people sitting in a room, they will continue to achieve it. If they become complacent, they would lose a property which they can sustain for more time.

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