REVIEWER: SAINATH SARABAN
With more than 16 years experience in advertising, Sainath Saraban, executive creative director, Leo Burnett, Delhi, has worked on brands such as Thums Up, Maaza, Samsung, Levi’s, Pizza Hut, Boost, Perfetti, Kingfisher and GM.
The new ad for Airtel 3G by JWT India shows a young man seeking help to locate someone his grandfather once knew—his grandfather has an old score to settle. They trace the acquaintance on Facebook through the 3G connection, reach his house, and the grandfather settles scores, landing a peck on the cheek of the elderly acquaintance’s wife.
What did you think of the ad?
This ad just doesn’t go the distance for me. The first ad in this campaign, with the army officer on a video call, was simple, well-executed and the product story came out seamlessly. But this one loses its balance. The six degrees of separation story could have been done in a simpler manner. It got a little too contrived. The production values left much to be desired. The storytelling, the editing, the way the Facebook page appears on the building, was too cluttered. The idea of casting Mohan Agashe was interesting. Overall, the campaign is bound by interesting vignettes of life but the stories need to be crafted better.
Does this ad help the brand reach out to its target audience?
I’m sure it does its job. Airtel has always worked better when it has depicted Indian life stories. The army officer 3G video call film is a pretty good example. But when Airtel decided to go foreign, it alienated itself, like in the street performer film. The brand’s communication strength lies in its pan-Indian appeal. Though I would still want to see stories that stay with me a little longer and not just get a temporary laugh out of me. In the past, one campaign that I’ve loved watching was the Sharman Joshi campaign. That is the zone to be in.
What must brands keep in mind while working in a competitive, crowded space such as telecom?
This space is dictated by two things: How do I make the guy’s wallet happier by using my service and how do I make him feel happier when he is a part of my brand? Now that everyone is offering one and two paise deals, the money part is pretty much parity. But what the brand means to the guy is completely in control of the people who create the brand communication. It needs to speak a familiar yet interesting language. It has to create pride of ownership among users and, finally, not keep changing what it stands for. This usually happens when the marketing guys and the agency start getting bored.
What’s your favourite 3G ad?
I don’t know if you’ve seen these white creatures with egg- shaped heads. They’ve been on TV a lot lately. One of them is an awesome superhero. I can’t seem to recall what they’re called. Maybe it will come back to me later.
As told to Gouri Shah.