Reviewer: Titus Upputuru
With around 15 years’ experience in the advertising industry, Titus Upputuru, national creative director, Dentsu Marcom, has worked with brands such as KFC, Afghan Telecom and Electrolux.
The new advertisement for Vodafone Essar Ltd’s new phone—Vodafone Blue—by Ogilvy and Mather India has a Broadway theme which showcases the main protagonist, a young man, describing his experiences on social networking site Facebook.
What did you think of the advertisement?
The TV commercial looks well made. The idea of bringing alive Facebook and its relevance comes out quite well with the theatrical representation of what goes on in the world of Facebook. The execution is fresh in terms of making it look like a Broadway musical. Casting is interesting. Production is elaborate, and I am sure the art department must have had good fun going about creating this elaborate visual opera. I like the music—though it sounds inspired by the Nomis Damn Boots commercial—because it has a minor chord, and I like minor chords, which tend to go into the soulful space. The direction seems flawless, the way the whole choreography plays out.
Broadway theme: The production is elaborate, and the art work a visual opera.
How does this commercial compare with other social networking ads on television? Does it work for the brand?
More brands are showing their affinity to social networking by associating with Facebook and such. The idea must be to connect to the youth. I also feel marketers and advertising agencies think it’s a cool thing to do. But this is a fad. This, too, shall pass. People are losing interest in Facebook. In that sense, this ad is a bit late.
For a mobile service provider, this is the first ad launching a product or a phone. Does this do justice to the product story?
The ad is beautiful for Facebook. It seems like it was commissioned by Mark Z(uckerberg). It should have come some three years back. It should have been for the UK market. I have no clue what relevance it has in current times and place.
Everyone seems to be focusing on the concept of friends and social networking in their ads. Does this trend work for brands looking to reach a certain target audience?
Friendship is timeless. It is also so broad-based and yet so charming. Friendship has so many aspects to it, and you can cut it so differently and so interestingly. There are many brands taking the friendship trip.
The more you make communication narrow, without losing sight of the mountain that you are helping the audience see, (the more) it works. So long as you have an idea of friendship that is unique and true, you will find audiences tapping their feet and humming with you. Without going into the heart of the marketing issue that you may be having, if you gloss up a story with some superficial way of connecting with youth, or whoever your target audience may be, you will fly the most magnificent plane in the sky and people will sleep through it.
This ad is unusually long. Do you think audiences have the patience to sit through such a long ad?
Length is not a concern as long it holds the audience’s interest. I don’t think this ad suffers duration-wise. It is fairly enjoyable because you do see a lot of drama. You can tell a great story in 10 seconds and you can tell a sloppy one in 100. The reverse is true too. So it is not about duration. In advertising and production, people have a tendency of asking for 5 seconds more, 10 seconds more. Directors usually tell clients, “Give me 5 seconds and I will show how this story can leap.” Often, it is true. Because a nuance, an expression, a few extra frames of a moment, can make a huge difference, but we must be conscious. We can’t be irresponsible and blow up marketing budgets.
What’s your favourite ad in this category?
I like the ad done by Telenordia, the Swedish telephone company and Internet service provider, a few years ago. The ad showed a young woman talking to another over the phone while getting ready for a date. She tells her friend how she met this guy on the Internet and is going to meet him for the first time. She goes on to say that while she hasn’t met him yet, his picture is just downloading. We, meanwhile, see a handsome face downloading on her computer. She exclaims, “He looks like Kevin Costner, I can’t wait to meet him”, etc. The picture downloads really slowly. The camera stays on the computer after she leaves. We wait for the full download to happen. We realize that the picture that was downloading was a poster on the wall of a grotesque man sitting on the sofa in a vest. He burps at the end of the download. The super says, “Choose a faster download.”
As told to Gouri Shah.