Anil Ambani-controlled Reliance Communications (RCom) is borrowing a concept from the Charlie Chaplin classic The Great Dictator. Just as Chaplin dances with a globe in the film, RCom's forthcoming advertising campaign will shows five animated characters dancing with a globe.
The similarity doesn’t end there. In The Great Dictator, Chaplin is spoofing Adolf Hitler's wild ambitions to conquer the world. In its ad campaign slated for launch next week, RCom is taking on Vodafone-Essar’s engaging and hugely popular Zoozoos
Being developed by Delhi-based RocketScience, the characters — five of them representing the five network bars on a mobile phone — are yet to be given a name. Right now, they're being referred to as "humanised network bars".
But much like the Zoozoos, these "humanised network bars" will communicate the strength of the company’s network through five-second spot advertisements, they added.
The company’s brief to the agency was to make network bars the brand’s identity and a medium of communicating with its customers, a RocketScience source said.
RCom is making seven short films to be aired across various TV channels beginning next week. The campaign, which also includes an online viral, will run for two weeks.
In one of the advertisements, four of the humanised characters are lifting the fifth and threatening to drop him on the ground. The tagline says: ‘Our network never fails’. Another one has all the five dancing around India’s map, mentioning its “coverage across 20,000 towns and 500,000 villages”.
Asked about the impending campaign, a Reliance Mobile spokesperson declined to comment.
RCom will spend around Rs 150 crore (the amount includes the GSM campaign featuring Hrithik Roshan launched a fortnight ago) over a 60-day period. RCom will also extend its humanised characters to sell its portfolio of value-added brand, just as Vodafone did with Zoozoos. Going a step further, RCom will create jokes around its humanised characters that will be available over SMS and e-mail.
Ad gurus generally have a good take on spoofs. “If done well in good taste and humour, spoof ads are considered flattery, indicating that the idea has been appreciated. It works well for the brand because it creates excitement — but again, this depends on the brand. I am personally not against spoofs,” said Prasoon Joshi, executive chairman, McCann Worldgroup India, and regional creative director, McCann Asia .
K V Sridhar (known as “Pops”), national creative director, Leo Burnett, added that spoofs by challenger brands taking on market leaders are usually well received by customers.
“For instance, Pepsi’s spoof -'Nothing Official About It’ - was received well. Likewise, when Jet Airways had announced a change — Kingfisher came up with an ad saying ‘We Have Not Changed’.
“If the brand’s personality is fun, and it’s not the market leader, it can take on the larger brand, it’s enjoyable. But if the market leader takes on smaller brands it’s usually not enjoyable.
It’s like a family; the younger brother can take potshots at the older one, but the older one taking a potshot at his younger sibling is considered bad,” he said.