Why smartphone brand Vivo is asking users to switch off their phones

Nipun Marya, Director – Brand Strategy, explains why Vivo decided to take the counterintuitive path when it urged its users to take a break from smartphones

e4m by Misbaah Mansuri
Published: Dec 26, 2019 8:42 AM  | 4 min read
Vivo ad

We all know the saying: “I’ll believe it when I see it.” But when it comes to marketing innovation, the reverse is often the truth: “I’ll see it when I believe it.” And with that said, brands are now focusing on selling an idea for consumers to believe in rather than a product. In keeping with this thought, smartphone brand – Vivo India in its latest ad with Bollywood actor Aamir Khan – has been urging people to switch off their phones and spend more time with their families. Why did the smartphone brand opt for an idea that may seem like a counterinitiative? The brand and the agency open up on what made them take the unconventional route. 

 In conversation with exchange4media, Nipun Marya, Director Brand Strategy, Vivo India, tells us more about the idea behind the ad: “At a superficial level, there is a conflict. But if you go deeper, technology is meant to improve our lives and is supposed to be an enabler. So we must use it as such. But if there is something about technology that is decreasing the quality of life, we must understand that as well.”

 When quizzed about his creative brief to the agency, Marya added, “We are a brand that is in the top 2 in the offline space and top 3 in the smartphone brand. We have more than 50-55 million users as of today. So we believe that as a brand that scales for improving the lives of our people, it’s also important for us to address issues that are plaguing our space. So we said that while we are not telling you to stop using your phones, we are advising you to be cautious about their usage.”

 The campaign showcases how a child looks forward to spending time with his father but is not able to do so because the father is always occupied with his smartphone. Through this message, Vivo urges smartphone users to switch off their devices and get connected with the immediate world by increasing human interactions.

 Amit Wadhwa, President, Dentsu Impact -- the agency that conceptualised the spot -- shared that the idea first came up during a brainstorm session where the agency was discussing the brand way forward with the client. “Once we had the idea we co-developed it with Aamir’s team and the Vivo team,” he said. 

 Opening up on the challenges between the idea and execution, Wadhwa said, “Many times, we do think of brave ideas like these but they are dropped because they may go against the category. But I am glad that the Vivo team saw the idea’s merit and followed it to the absolute core.” 

 The brand started off by collaborating with CyberMedia Research for insights on smartphone behaviour. There is also a radio campaign on the cards that will be rolled out next week. “We have tied up with the Head of Department of Mental Health of Max Hospital, Dr Sameer Malhotra, who will be sharing his perspective on the radio that how excessive usage of smartphones is impacting our lives. There is a full digital on the same too.  Of course, this will be followed by the report that we have already released,” Marya said.

 When asked how Vivo India has been planning its ad spends for 2020, Marya revealed that while the Chinese smartphone-maker is still working on their final strategy for the upcoming year, they are clear about sticking to what they did last year in 2020 as well.

 “To begin the year, we’ll have IPL, which we are sponsoring. So, therefore, we will have the property Vivo IPL in the first half of the year,” he pointed out. Furthermore, the brand will leverage a mix of TV, digital, print and outdoor for their overall marketing plan.

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