Advertisers focus on storytelling, brand assets to push the message

Vodafone has brought back its elderly couple Asha and Bala for a new campaign
The latest campaign by Vodafone has an elderly couple, Asha and Bala taking viewers through the experience of setting up a new restaurant, while spinning the message of connectivity and how it helps senior citizens. The couple first stepped into the Vodafone circle around two years ago and since then have come to be identified closely with the brand. 

The same holds for the Airtel girl, for Flipkart’s role-playing children stepping into adult shoes, for Sony Max that has turned to a film fanatic called Gullu Gulati for its twentieth anniversary campaign and many others. Increasingly advertisers are using a set of actors around changing storylines to build their case. Termed as brand assets, they are less expensive than celebrity endorsers and more adaptable when it comes to spinning purpose driven storyboards that are the norm today. 

Vaishali Sharma, head, marketing and communications, Sony Max says, “We wanted a campaign that not only talks about what Sony Max stands for, but also one that our viewers could relate to. A character like Gullu personifies not only the brand’s identity, but also the excitement that our viewers have for movies.” The campaign, which launched a few weeks back, tracks the journey of the character through the recreation of a series of iconic Hindi film scenes and/or songs.

Flipkart has also done the same with its children role-playing adults
Flipkart that has just released a campaign using children to play the roles of two movie characters from Munnabhai MBBS. It uses children as brand assets even as its family of fashion brands uses celebrities. Vikas Gupta, vice president and head of marketing at Flipkart says, “Our consumer research indicates that the consistent use of ‘kids dressed as adults’ has led to a high breakthrough and strong engagement with our audience. Over the years, our ‘kidults’ have helped carve out a niche as far as ad communication is concerned.” 

The use of not-so-famous faces to become the face of the brand ties in neatly with the increasing reliance on cause-led advertising. “Characters fit the requirement better than mascots as they offer richer and more engaging storytelling. The same can then be sliced and diced into suitable posts and placements for a less obtrusive messaging,” adds Ashish Mishra, MD, Interbrand who sees this as part of the overall trend to create content that opens up a way for two-way communication between the brand and consumer. 

For Vodafone, the use of the elderly tech-savvy couple Asha-Bala helps focus on the inclusivity that technology affords. “Asha and Bala are the lovable and young-at-heart couple that represents everyone in India. They represent the older set who may not be so tech-savvy to the super tech-savvy youth,” says Kavita Nair, chief digital transformation and brand officer, Vodafone Idea. 

Vodafone is not new to creating iconic brand assets. It is home to the Vodafone pug and the ZooZoos. “But the thought never starts with creating an icon. The starting point is to get the right story to convey the product benefit or message in a charming and memorable way. When the story and the character/brand asset is the right fit and the consumers resonate with what the brand is communicating, does an icon get created,” Nair adds. 

It is perhaps just such a fit that Flipkart is aiming for with its latest campaign. Gupta says “Our aim is to create awareness and educate consumers on the usage and benefits of SuperCoins (a new feature being introduced on the platform). Merging the worlds of ‘kidults’ and Bollywood helped us cut through the creative clutter and deliver a campaign that can connect with our consumers.”

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