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Onida revives iconic devil for IPL campaign

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MUMBAI: Homegrown electronics brand Onida, a part of Mirc Electronics, was one of India’s most recognised and acclaimed brands in the early 90s and 2000s. Its CRT TVs helped popularise the brand along with an unforgettable brand ambassador-a devil, replete with horns and a tail, who was later replaced by a married couple in 2010.

Though its advertising furore died down in the last decade, we are going to see a revival of the iconic devil. As summer rolls in, Onida is gearing up to release a new campaign for its air conditioners, which is timed with the Indian Premier League (IPL), wherein the company is also a presenting sponsor. Rs 20-30 crore has been earmarked for advertising across all formats with Rs 20 crore exclusively to be spent on the IPL with a focus on television.

Mirc Electronics MD Vijay Mansukhani believes that today the IPL is the hot property in India to invest and the money will be well spent. The campaign consists of 10-second and 30-second ads that will run across television and digital between April and May.

The brand has roped in Taproot Dentsu to conceptualise the summer campaign which will be followed by seasonal campaigns around the year. Onida will launch a washing machine campaign during monsoon and for microwave ovens during Diwali.

Since Onida’s devil has been one of the most memorable icons of Indian advertising, Taproot Dentsu Mumbai creative director Neeraj Kanitkar says that they just had to bring him back. The devil has been resurrected in a new avatar as a die-hard fan of Onida inverter ACs. The challenge for Onida will be to engage the generations Y and Z who may wonder ‘what’s the big deal behind a two-horned man’.

Earlier, the advertising budget was restricted to one to two per cent but has been hiked to three to four per cent today. The company is also reorienting its outlook to suit the digital age as Mansukhani believes that it is the way forward and the revenue from this medium is increasing.

Mansukhani is aware that the AC segment today is cluttered with the general perception that foreign brands such as Daikin, Carrier or O General are far superior and better and Onida wants to change that.

Budget constraints and the government’s state taxes and policies had forced Onida to cut back on its advertising and marketing for the past several years. “We had to set up 40 factories and hence the budget cuts. But now with GST, everything has come to a level playing field and Onida has bounced back with profits,” he adds.

Onida holds a mere eight to nine per cent of the total market share in the air conditioner space and the penetration for air conditions in India is as low as five per cent which comes majorly from urban areas and metros. The segment contributes 45 per cent to the company’s annual turnover of Rs 370 crore. Mansukhani expects it to double this year to Rs 700 crore and reach Rs 1500 crore by 2020. Onida will now focus on the rural market and is betting big on IPL to create awareness about the company during the league.

He sniffs at the idea of exclusively partnering with particular e-commerce sites, as is the norm today, stating that people should be given the freedom to buy from where they liked.

Onida is also a major exporter to Gulf countries, which contribute almost 65 per cent to the company's export revenue while shipments to the fast-growing East African market (Uganda, Tanzania, Kenya and Ethiopia) and the SAARC countries account for 16 per cent of its export revenue. In addition to Gulf countries, Onida has presence in Russia, Ukraine and the neighbouring CIS countries.

With temperatures expected to soar in the coming days, Onida’s timing to relaunch alongside the IPL is apt. Can the company bring back its lost fortune with the aid of its trusty devil while competing against celebrity-backed rival brands? As they say, ‘the devil lies in the details’!

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