Home >> Advertising >> Article

Branding is the goal, storytelling is the means: Sashi Shankar

07-March-2013
Font Size   16
Branding is the goal, storytelling is the means: Sashi Shankar

Be it the quirky ‘Hunny Bunny’ song or the witty advertisements featuring Abhishek Bachchan, Idea Cellular commercials have always managed to strike a chord with the audience. The ad films usually stand out as they manage to narrate a complete tale in the 30-45 seconds time slot.

While one might receive it as a form of entertaining content or mere advertising, Idea TVCs go beyond the traditional telecom advertisements and establish the company’s stand point very effectively.

“Idea believes in storytelling,” said Sashi Shankar, CMO, Idea Cellular. “Stories have a magical power. They are not attached to any shackles and help in creating emotions or giving wings to one’s imaginations. A good story is always remembered,” he added.

Idea commercials function more or less like a short film, having a plot, characters and a conclusion. While most of their advertisements convey a social message, Shankar explains that it was no theme but an effective means to deliver their promise of ‘An Idea can change your life’ in an innovative manner.

“Like the four elements of nature (air, water, fire and earth), storytelling is also based on four crucial aspects – message, plot, characters and conflict,” explained Shankar. These elements not only craft a story well but also help establish the message one wants to put across.
     
Shankar stated that in today’s world, product differentiation is blurry. Now physical difference does not matter but communication and customer experience matter and story is what makes the difference for Idea. He expressed that branding is the goal and storytelling is the means.
Ideas storytelling culture goes back to the early 2000s when the company emerged under one brand name, from the former four brand names in different circles. While the name and the tag line (An idea can change your life) were very promising, the brand was not sure as to how to deliver this promise to its TG.

“We went about building brand idea,” said Shankar. “We decided to connect with the consumers not on a rational level but on an emotional level. We wanted to have the qualities of a champion – a champion of thoughts and champion of ideas,” he added.

Idea commercials started establishing the brand as a solution provider and decided not to promote network, price or value added services at all. The brand started associating itself with solutions to bigger problems. Idea commercials associated with various social issues such as education in rural areas (for expansions of coverage and network) and population control (to promote 3G network).

“When the story was discussed, most people were not comfortable with the idea of a telecom company addressing a social issue. However, our CEO and the agency had the conviction that this is what will help us to stand out,” said Shankar.
  
Also, humour and music were incorporated to make the advertisements more entertaining and interesting. Abhishek Bachchan, who was then an upcoming star, was roped in as the brand ambassador. To keep the commercials different and to maintain the theme of a story, Junior AB was portrayed as a character and not himself.

In its latest campaigns – Hunny Bunny and Telephone Exchange – Idea has moved from a social level to a personal level. While Hunny Bunny captured the ingrained habit that people have of humming songs, telephone exchange tapped on marital fights.

Shankar pointed out that through Hunny Bunny, Idea wanted to establish that it is a pan India network. The campaign was a deviation from what usually Idea did. The jingle was composed by Amit Trivedi basis the brief given to Lowe Lintas. The campaign has been the most successful Idea commercial so far.

While Idea has so far managed to deliver its promise of ‘An idea can change your life’ through its commercial and create a landmark in the advertisement world, how much can these advertisements help in RoI is the real question.

RoI has always been a marketer’s biggest woe. Shankar highlighted that advertisements can help in achieving numbers only up to a certain extent. There is no substitute of what can be done on-ground through network quality, sales and distribution.

Sashi Shankar was speaking on the topic ‘Brands as Storytellers: What an Entertainment Sirji!’ at the Mumbai leg of Pitch CMO Summit 2013, held on March 6, 2013. The session was chaired by Arvind Sharma, Chairman and CEO, Indian Sub-continent, Leo Burnett.

The Summit was presented by Colors in association with MEC.

Kartikeya Sharma says that June has been the best month for sales in the 11 years that the brand has been in India

The newly appointed CEO of ZEE5 on how he aims to have the widest appeal in the OTT space amongst Indian consumers

The VP, Marketing and Communications (South Asia), talks about the company's growth strategy, its focus areas, impact of demonetisation on consumer behaviour and much more

Siju Prabhakaran, South Cluster Head, Zee Entertainment Enterprises Limited, talks about channel's rebranding, extending fiction shows to weekends and much more

right
left
RADIO CITY CELEBRATES ITS 17TH ANNIVERSARY WITH CONCERT, AWARDS AND FUN 5TH EDITION OF TIMES NOW & ICICI BANK’S NRI OF THE YEAR AWARDS GLOBAL INDIANS PITCH CMO SUMMIT BENGALURU SEES TOP INDUSTRY LEADERS AND MARKETERS IN ATTENDANCE DISTINGUISHED JURY COMES TOGETHER TO PICK WINNERS FOR PITCH’S TOP 50 BRANDS PITCH CMO SUMMIT BANGALORE SEES TOP CMOS ACROSS INDUSTRIES IN ATTENDANCE 1ST REPUBLIC TV GULF INDIAN LEADERSHIP SUMMIT & AWARDS HONOUR STALWARTS OF INDIAN GULF BUSINESS COMMUNITY SONY YAY! CELEBRATES ITS FIRST BIRTHDAY WITH PARTY FOR TRADE PARTNERS THOUGHT LEADERS AND TOP DIGITAL MARKETERS SPEAK @ EXCHANGE4MEDIA GROUP’S TECHMANCH 2018 IN MUMBAI EXCHANGE4MEDIA’S IDMA 2018 RECOGNIZES INDUSTRY’S BEST DIGITAL MARKETING CAMPAIGNS REALTY PLUS UNVEILS COFFEE TABLE BOOK AT 10TH CONCLAVE & EXCELLENCE AWARDS @AHMEDABAD EMINENT JURY CONGREGATES TO PICK WINNERS OF INDIAN DIGITAL MARKETING AWARDS 2018 OFF THE CUFF SEES ‘SWACHH BHARAT ABHIYAN’ MAN PARAMESWARAN IYER IN CONVERSATION WITH SHEKHAR GUPTA EXCHANGE4MEDIA’S LOUDEST.IN HOSTS INAUGURAL EDITION OF MUSIC INC. IN MUMBAI EMINENT JURY CONGREGATES TO PICK IMPACT’S 40UNDERFORTY ACHIEVERS PORTER PRIZE & INSTITUTE FOR COMPETITIVENESS RECOGNIZE STRATEGIC ACUMEN IN COMPANIES DELHI AD CLUB-SAARC AWARDS 2018 RECOGNIZE EXCELLENCE ACROSS CREATIVE, MEDIA & DIGITAL AGENCIES BSNL & CALL2ACTION COMMUNICATION INDIA LAUNCH MOBILE ADVERTISING PLATFORM, INFOMO IN NEW DELHI CHILDREN’S RIGHTS ACTIVIST KAILASH SATYARTHI LAUNCHES BOOK ‘EVERY CHILD MATTERS’ SENIOR JOURNALIST VIJAY TRIVEDI LAUNCHES BOOK ‘YADA YADA HI YOGI’ BASED ON YOGI ADITYANATH EMINENT JURY CONGREGATES TO PICK IMPACT’S 40UNDERFORTY ACHIEVERS

In the same week, in BARC's Top 10 Advertisers FMCG brand Hindustan Lever continued to reign the category

Hero Motocorp remained the leading advertiser followed by AMFI, Honda Motorcycle & Scooter India.

Ali Hussein talks about the platform's consumer engagement strategy, relationships with telco-partners and what made the 40-year-old film company want to march in the OTT space