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Comic effect

Comic effect
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First Published: Fri, Apr 15 2011. 11 24 PM IST

Laughter challenge :  Manish Bhatt and Raghu Bhat.
Laughter challenge : Manish Bhatt and Raghu Bhat.
Updated: Fri, Apr 15 2011. 11 24 PM IST
Spot Light | Docomo
Laughter challenge : Manish Bhatt and Raghu Bhat.
Reviewers: Raghu Bhat and Manish Bhatt
With around 13 years experience in advertising, Raghu Bhat and Manish Bhatt, founder-directors of Scarecrow Communications Ltd, have worked on brands such as Wonder Bra, Asian Paints and Britannia.
Campaign
The new campaign by Draftfcb+Ulka for Tata DoCoMo features actor Ranbir Kapoor as a stand-up comic who draws attention to the various annoying facets of telecom service providers. At the end of the ad he urges the consumer to simplify things by picking the right service provider.
What did you think of the campaign?
There is a lot of “feature-fatigue” in this category. Owing to the glut in communication, the consumer has become desensitized to claims like “better network” and “no call drops”. Therefore, it’s refreshing to see ads that talk of features that are relevant to consumers. Like “no unwanted service/calls”. This format is also a media planner’s delight. It is extendable and gives you the flexibility to talk about features through editable, crisp 15-seconders.
Does it help a brand looking to reach the masses to base its campaign on stand-up comedy, a fairly new concept in India?
Recall factor : The campaign’s format is a media planner’s delight.
Stand-up comedy is a fairly well-established concept in India. In every small-town orchestra, there is a mimicry artist or a “joke-teller”. In folk dances, there are sutradhars who double up as extempore satirists. But DoCoMo shows the Westernized form of stand-up comedy. For example, the use of canned laughter. In canned laughter, we don’t get to see the source of the laughter. Fact is, in India, consumption of humour is a community act. Literally a “feast of laughter”. Would one of the most memorable stand-up acts of all time—Chatur’s balaatkar speech in 3 Idiots— be as funny if it were to be filmed against canned laughter? Maybe not. The amplification of a joke to hysterical levels of enjoyment is accomplished by frequent intercuts of the audience enjoying the joke. Canned laughter isolates the performer from the audience. This lowers the impact.
In such a crowded category, does it help to use celebrities?
Does Tata DoCoMo’s use of Ranbir help the brand here? The stand-up comedian concept works best when the jokes are so rip-roaringly funny, that there’s no need for Ranbir. The generosity of the applause is slightly disproportional to the level of humour and creates the impression of a star-struck lot, applauding Ranbir the superstar, rather than the brilliance of a stand-up comedian. On the positive side, the ads do succeed in creating recall. They reinforce DoCoMo values of youthfulness and style.
Broadly, there are two kinds of celebrity advertising. The first rides on the celebrity image. A macho brand endorsed by a macho superstar. The second, more interesting kind, subverts the celebrity image. A legendary Pepsi ad had tough-as-nails Michael Jordan behaving like a kid. Audiences love this. A versatile performer like Ranbir gives brands the opportunity to achieve high share of mind, through a subversion of the “expected”.
gouri.s@livemint.com
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First Published: Fri, Apr 15 2011. 11 24 PM IST