Business Ad Usual! Ogilvy's homemade experiment during lockdown

A peek into the process behind the latest Asian Paints and Tata Sky campaigns.

NEW DELHI/MUMBAI: The ongoing 21-day lockdown in the wake of n-COVID19 in the country has posed unprecedented challenges for the ad world. With entire companies forced to work from home and shoots halted, it has become quite difficult to conceive new video campaigns, at a time when content consumption is at a record-high. However, even in this crisis, creative agencies have found a way to create ads that can lift people’s spirits.

One such agency is Ogilvy. Under the expert leadership of chief creative officer worldwide and executive chairman India Piyush Pandey, Ogilvy has managed to set a new creative standard.

In the past week, two brands, Asian Paints and Tata Sky, launched new video campaigns, using montages of recorded phone videos set beautifully on a lyrical voiceover, both creatively managed by Ogilvy. While the core concept and process remained almost similar for both the stories, each shared a different message and gave a different feel.

Ogilvy India CCO Sukesh Nayak tells, “I generally feel a brand, in a way, has a role to play during the time of crisis. It has happened with both the brands - Tata Sky as well as Asian Paints. One needs to ask themselves what they can do, what they can offer.

At the end of the day, consumers are your guide. Ads are created for them. Today we all are at very challenging times in our lives. Everybody is struggling with their own fear, anxiety, and pressure. So, yes as an advertiser I have many ideas to execute.”

Elaborating more on Tata Sky’s “Ghar Baithe Kuch Seekhein campaign”, he shares, “My constant thinking is what I can do to make your job easier. Hence, we came across the idea of freeing up the services. Tata Sky is doing its bit to entertain and engage subscribers while they stay at home. We looked at the positive side of this nationwide lockdown. You can learn so many new things in this 21-day lockdown period and this is how the brand came up with this unique idea. So, Tata Sky has given free access to content that will include value-added services for the entire family.”

Tata Sky chief communication officer Anurag Kumar adds, “The starting point of the campaign was that we were not looking for a creative video, which is high on production value. In fact, we were looking for authentic communication and empathy towards the consumers.”

For Asian Paints, the revival of its “Har Ghar Chup Chap Se Kuch Kehta Hai” campaign was meant to give the audience a reason to smile, appreciate what they have in these tough times, and lead richer lives at homes, reveals Asian Paints MD & CEO Amit Syngle.

He says, “In current uncertain and trying times, we endeavoured to capture glimpses of moments people are spending at home and memories that are being created in the process. The campaign weaves in various stories, memories, and interactions that are relatable as people are doing the very same things at home now.”

For Syngle, the campaign was conceptually different from what the brand has used earlier. “The purpose of this campaign is centred on the well-being of our consumers. Amidst the challenging times we are facing today, Asian Paints, through this light-hearted take, inspires people to stay at home and stay safe during the lockdown period.”

For Kumar, an additional learning was the whole process that was taken into account to create the campaign. “From start to finish, the campaign was executed in 72-hours. The whole process of briefing and discussion, which earlier would have taken months, was done away with. All the discussions happened on calls and WhatsApp messages and not even a single person in the entire chain, including the director and actors, stepped out of the house.”

He also notes that the campaign cost dropped down to about one-third to one-fifth of what it usually takes to produce video ads.

Highlighting more about the collaborative process, Nayak notes, “The agency and the brand were truly finding the relationship and partnership during this time. There was no brief given but it was a collaborative effort. These kinds of things are happening every day. Brands need to get connected with the agency while the agency has given a clear brief to respective teams. One good thing that we did is we talked to each other a lot. We communicated on a regular basis. We made points to discuss things. We made a list of things that are troubling our consumers and what an agency and a brand can do for them. I keep myself in the consumer’s shoes. It helps in ideation.”

Nayak thinks that more brands and agencies should come onboard to work on campaigns like these. “We are working with lots of partners across the country. I am personally happy to see my team and clients working like this to create magic. I think other brands should also do this because joy should be copied.”

But given the speed and financial benefits, can such campaigns become a norm for the industry?

Kumar doesn’t think so. According to him, after the lockdown is lifted, such campaigns can be executed on special occasions but it will not become a norm.

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