Larger than life characters endorse Elf

Satvinder, Mr. Lele, Tiger Thangrajan and Misra ji! Wondering what these diverse characters from across the country have in common? Here's what? these characters are all endorsing lubricant major Elf. The brain child of Ambience Publicis' national creative director Pushpinder Singh, these characters can be seen in the four different 2D animation ads that the agency has rolled out for their client - Elf.

Now to introduce these characters... Meet Satvinder aka Satty. She's the quintessential Punjabi woman. The ad begins with our woman introducing her self and telling us how her husband's bike has been zooming since 1985. And the sole reason for the bike's splendid performance is because she always insisted on using Elf Moto 4 Gold for the bike, which is ever so reliable and sexy like herself! The jingle, conceived by Singh, is catchy and foot tapping. And the character of Satty is the typical dominating wife from Punjab but lovable all the same.

One thing that strikes out of place in this particular ad is that it seems a bit preposterous for a woman especially a typical housewife to know about bike lubricants and their benefits. Speaking about the same, Singh says, "If I get the viewer into a serious frame of mind when he sits down to dissect whether a woman has knowledge about engine oils, then obviously I am not succeeding. One of the main reasons for animating the film and making it fun is so that people don't get into the rational bend of mind. They have to just see it, enjoy it and the message is delivered to them. Had a put a real woman in the ad then probably people would have raised eyebrows."

Further talking about the ad and the idea behind this campaign, Singh says, "When we were thinking about making the ads, we were addressing people who drive four-stroke bikes; in effect we were talking to fairly young people say 18 - 30 year olds. All along lubricants and engine oils take themselves so seriously and talk about longer engine life or enhanced performance in such a manufactured way that most of the ads have become blind spots and even if people watch them, they don't believe them."

So the agency thought that if they had to garner eyeballs towards the brand, then something different had to be done. "Elf is not exactly the biggest spender and therefore there was all the more reason for the spots to stand out. So the priority for us was to break the clutter as our media budgets were small and secondly we have to do away from the skepticism or the lack of credibility as people don't actually believe when you say it so seriously." The end results were the light hearted and fun manner in which the ads had been done.

Coming to the second character of Mr. Lele - the Maharashtrian. The ad begins with Mr Lele introducing himself by saying - "Myself, Free Advice Lele!" He is the one who is most concerned about everyone else around him. His neighbour has just bought a new Japanese original four stroke bike. The first thing that Mr Lele tells him is to take care of his bike by lubricating it with the right kind of engine oil. But much to the dismay of Mr Lele, he doesn't follow his advice and his bike's piston gets jammed, which results in an accident. Mr Know-it-all Lele then tells him - "Free Advice lele varna lele Elf Moto 4 Gold." (Take free advice or else take Elf Moto 4 Gold)

Elaborating on this character Singh says, "Mr Lele's manner of speech and delivery is like that of Sant Tukaram. We hit upon one character and then we improvised on it. These fairly universal Indian characters are laughed at, appreciated and spoofed across the country. And by going in for 2D animation there is a lot you can pull off that you can't with real characters."

Coming to the Bihari politician Misra ji now, introduced as 'Phatphati Wale Misra ji' in the ad. The only real difference between Misra ji and an (in)famous Bihari politician is the jet black hair instead of the white tresses. The song he is singing goes something like this?. "Phatphati Wale Misra ji, janta bole CM to-be." Misra ji sings praises of his bike and says that the bike may be old but the engine was still young at heart. Misra ji believes that the opposition's coalition is very strong and that was all because of the 'taam-jhaam' of Elf Moto 4 Gold.

Speaking on the character of Misra ji, Singh says, "We have spoofed a politician in the Misra ji ad and I think if we would have put a real character there, everyone would have pounced on us immediately. People may not take it as a joke as it is really meant to be and then there would be serious repercussions. Animation allows you to carry on a part that you otherwise cannot."

Tiger Thangrajan, a stunt man from South India, is the coolest one. He has been riding the motorcycle since the last 32 years and even gets offers from movies to perform stunts. He too, speaks of the Elf and how it has helped his bike for all these years.

Singh informs that for once, the client did not have any problems with the scripts that were presented to them for the ads. "There are these rare occasions when the client doesn't say a word against what you are doing for them and this was one of those rare occasion when the client went by what we showed them."

The visualisation of the characters was done jointly by Ambience and AniMagic. "It took us about 10 days to animate one film. While we have outsourced the animation, the master production has been done completely in-house for a simple reason that we thought we could have better control over things if we did it in-house," says Singh.

It is still early days to judge how the campaign has done in the market as it has been out for just a week now but Singh is quite confident that due to the different treatment of the ads, the campaign will do Elf a lot of good. A print and radio campaign to accompany television is also being thought of, but the details of these have not yet been decided.

Whatever said and done, one thing's for sure... all four ads are definitely music to the ear with a catchy and foot tapping score, which makes you want to hear and see them time and again.

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