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Ad Review: Meritnation’s ‘Laddoo’ hard to digest

28-May-2012
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Ad Review: Meritnation’s ‘Laddoo’ hard to digest

Everyone has fond memories of their school days. No one can forget the anxiety the result day brought with it. While there was always the tension of scoring well, the idea of pals scoring better was far more threatening. Taking cue from this feeling, DraftFCB Ulka has come out with the ‘Laddoo’ campaign for Meritnation, taking forward the brand’s philosophy ‘School made easy.’

The TVC is a satire that says that only those who get the highest percentage in school get to eat the ‘Laddoo’ of achievement and if you as a parent desire that ‘Laddoo’, Meritnation can be the destination for your child.

Brand: Meritnation
Agency: DraftFCB Ulka, Delhi
Medium: Television

The brief
Meritnation is an e-learning portal that provides multimedia tutorials, interactive exercises, practice tests and expert help on a range of subjects to help students score better. Meritnation’s brief to DraftFCB Ulka was to inform viewers about the portal and talk about its benefits to the parents and students community.

A close look at the routine of kids today would tell you how burdened they are to score ahead of peers. Barely out of the school bus, are their bags packed again for tuitions. Parents also have nowhere to go as that remains the only alternative. The idea was to convey to this community that there is an alternative. “Education has become a commodity,” said Sanjay Sharma, Creative Director, DraftFCB Ulka, while explaining the situation in the society. “It doesn’t matter what your kid has scored, what matters more is how much has the neighbour’s kid scored. Everyone wants their kid to excel and beat everyone else. We wanted to inform parents that if you find the school system inadequate, if scoring is getting more and more difficult, then you have an alternative, which is Meritnation,” he added.

Though the ad focuses more on the ‘Laddoo’ proposition than the real benefits of the portal, Pavan Chauhan, CEO, Meritnation shared it to be the main objective behind the campaign. He elaborated, “It is a well established fact that multimedia learning aids create a lasting impact on the learning process of children. Our campaign aims to present these multimedia capabilities of Meritnation to parents so that they can equip their children better.” 

Creative execution
The TVC is set in a school environment where students flock to find results of the exams. Thinking his son scored the best, a parent offers a ‘Laddoo’ to his son, celebrating his success. The ‘Laddoo’, however, is snatched away from the boy, as there are others who have scored much better than him. The ‘Laddoo’ exchanges many hands, leaving parents disappointed, to finally land into the mouth of the top scorer.

Meritnation is then brought into picture, informing viewers about the benefits of the portal, which can help students, score much better in their exams through experiential learning. The production house behind the film is Bang Bang Films. Don’t miss the names in the first frame – Pavan Chauhan, Sanjay Sharma, Roopak Saluja, Sanjay Tandon...beating each other in scores!

Media plan
Meritnation is rolling out the campaign in a phased manner starting from TV. Lintas Initiative Media is handling the media duties for the brand. Second phase of the campaign will follow where the brand would advertise on radio and cinema in key markets to reinforce the brand Meritnation. The two phases will be followed by a digital video burst in the last phase to deliver acquisitions.

Digital is a core part of the campaign, informed Chauhan. He added, “Digital is very important in our marketing plan. During the TV burst we are simultaneously running an ad-words campaign taking the imagery and messaging of our TV ad forward. There is a digital video campaign post our TV burst to capitalise on the reach of video platforms such as YouTube. We are also active on Facebook and have launched numerous engagement activities during the campaign.”

So what makes an online portal advertise on an offline medium? “Main reason behind launching a TV campaign was to increase awareness about the category – online education. The fact remains that while students are increasingly becoming aware of the potential of digital education, parents still have a lot of catching-up in terms of awareness and acceptance of the various online offerings,” said Chauhan.

Insatiable Laddoo
The advertising fraternity has given a cold response to the campaign, not really excited by the ‘Laddoo’ proposition.

Juhi Chaturvedi, Senior Creative Director, Bates said, “So the difference is that instead of leaflets and single colour printed ads for some coaching classes and tutorials that made life-changing promises in a rather serious tone, we have a TVC for an online coaching class that is trying to be funny. While the ad suffers from an average idea as well as execution, truth is that we are living in an environment where even 91 per cent is not enough and the desperate species called 'Parents' will leave no stone unturned (or no site not logged in) to ensure their child gets at least a 99 per cent if not 100. They might find this ad interesting, promising, connecting. I am not there yet.”

Viral Pandya, Founder, Out of the Box too has a similar opinion. He said, “The film is shabbily executed, and there's no idea or insight here. I am bothered about the values that the commercial stands for. Is a child's academic performance something only for the parent to show off and brag about, that too in a crude fashion? The TVC shows children as little more than performing monkeys, and today's parent won't relate to this. While one can and should promote an online brand through offline media, there's nothing in the film that makes a parent want to find out more. And how does the tagline ‘School made easy’ fit into the scheme of things?”

Our view
While the insight about the craze of parents wanting to do anything to achieve good marks is great, the commercial fails to attract you to the portal to find the solution to that problem.

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