This festive season, brands (particularly retail/e-tail players) have found a new way to get people to shop — moving on from pampering yourself or your loved ones, the ads focus around ‘giving back’ and bridging the social chasm. The overarching theme seems to be making others feel good and going beyond just the immediate circle of family and friends, with a focus on domestic workers, colleagues, neighbours etc. Consider Reliance Fresh’s BadiDiwali, Amazon’s Tyohaar Bade Dilwala, Pepperfry’s Iss Diwali Kuch Badal Ke Dekhiye and Big Bazaar’s Yeh Diwali Sab ki Wali campaigns.
With so many brands fixated on the ‘giving back’ idea, which one is really standing out? BrandWagon asks experts what these brands could have done differently or are the attempts distinct enough.
“Selflessness resonates with us”
Globally, ‘selfishness’ and ‘selflessness’ are two opposing ends of a spectrum that have been explored by brands in their campaigns, for generations. But then one day, there comes along a great campaign like the one Harvey Nichols created for Christmas in 2013: I Spent It on Myself. The ad went on to win multiple Grand Prix at Cannes Lions 2014, despite stemming from a one word insight: selfishness. The difference, however, is that the campaign took the ‘selfish’ archetype to an unforgettable, edgy place.
On the other side of the spectrum are campaigns that thrive on selflessness and sacrifice. Both these sides can work, provided they are backed by a powerful insight and an even more powerful idea. Some of the festive campaigns this year come from a place of a simple, powerful idea and insight. The execution, then, sets them a class apart.
The current generation can seem a little entitled (through no fault of theirs) because it is so used to its parents’ generation sacrificing its needs for its children’s well-being. It is only natural for the millennials to want to do something in return. ‘Selflessness’ as an archetype is so much more resonant in Indian consumers’ minds than the selfishness one, mainly because of the way we are as a culture and society.
The dangers of being a blind spot are real, especially during tactical festive season campaigns. However, the flight the idea takes absolutely depends on what combination one creates with the three basic elements: insight, idea and execution. Just getting one or two of these right doesn’t help at all, which is when the ‘blind spot’ occurs in a brand’s communication.
Raj Deepak Das,
Chief Creative Officer, Leo Burnett India
“Don’t just tell nice stories, create them”
Captain Conspicuous Consumption for 335 days, Agent of Altruism for the month preceding Diwali. That’s the hand that many brands have played over the last few years. Much like the customers these brands serve.
Now that their reality is not far from their dreams, affluent, urban Indians have begun to open their hearts and their wallets for those beyond their circle of symbioses. The Diwali season tends to be the favoured one for their largesse.
This seasonal march towards the high ground often brings with it the confusion of sameness. Similar brands telling indistinguishable stories to the same people. At the same time. Via directors, DOPs and music directors with interchangeable styles. The result — this article.
How do we avoid this undesirable phenomenon next Diwali? Simple. Don’t wait till next Diwali.
Brands must speak the language of large-heartedness as a rule and not as an exception reserved for the last quarter of the calendar year. Why must Holi, Eid, Gurpurab and Easter be devoid of warm ads helmed by do-gooders?
Better still, don’t just tell nice stories, create them. Use your CSR budgets to make lives better for actual watchmen and housemaids rather than those played by ‘real-looking’ theatre artistes in 60-second ads. Then, talk about the difference you made on the ground.
It’s easy to theorise and say that copywriters need to work harder, cook up newer plots and explore different formats next time round. But the truth is that brands must be genuinely invested in the idea of sharing and giving. Else, most communication on the subject will seem homogenous at best and opportunistic at worst.
Tarvinderjit Singh, executive creative director, Cheil India
“Weave social connect into brand strategy”
As Indians embrace the consumption culture, they are also trying to see if they could reduce the inherent guilt associated with consumption. Marketers have been trying to figure out ways of reducing this guilt associated with consumption by offering newer and newer points of view. Over the last decade, we have had a huge trend towards brands celebrating festivals of all kinds.
Today it is not surprising to see cars, television sets, mobile handsets and even apartments being sold and bought, if I may add, under the guise of religious festivals including Akshaya Trithya, which incidentally is a ‘day of giving’. In a sense, we have seen Diwali too getting hyped up beyond recognition by even the new age e-commerce brands that are appealing to the more educated, maybe the less religious, lot of Indians. Brands are trying to link the ‘giving’ concept with their own set of offerings, be it clothing, furniture or even grocery items. It almost looks as if that is the flavour of the month especially with retail brands. Just as a few months back, many fashion brands all started embracing the LGBT mantra.
Maybe these brands will score some points. But in order to make a lasting impression, they need to see how they can weave in the social connect into their long term brand strategy. So in addition to having a rational and an emotional reason, brands need to also have a social reason. That social reason needs to stay with the brand for a long enough time. If they manage this seamlessly, they may actually do some good. If not, this will just be the flavour of the day that will disappear when the Diwali noise abates.
MG Parameswaran, brand strategist & founder, Brand-Building.com
— Compiled by Ananya Saha & Ankita Rai