Cadbury’s Diwali message with a twist

19 Oct,2011


By Ravi Balakrishnan


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Cup of coffee in hand, grim determination on her face an elderly woman struggles to turn on a decade old computer and struggles even harder to get online, spilling coffee over the keyboard. All the while a voiceover from her son intones about how busy he’s become, leaving him no time to ‘waste’ hanging out with friends (and, by implication, his mother), and why bother anyway when they can stay in touch via phone, chat and social networking? It seems like a fairly standard tearjerker for a HelpAge India style NGO. Except it is actually for Cadbury’s Celebrations; a range of chocolates specifically designed for gifting through the festive season.


Celebrations’ previous ads have always been, well, celebratory. For instance, a sister shows up unexpectedly for Raksha Bandhan. And Diwali is a noisy backdrop to the commercial in which a young man bonds with the neighbourhood grouch. In ‘Lonely Maa’ though, there are none of these happy endings; no sudden ring of the doorbell with the son showing up, pack of Celebrations in tow. A courageous tack to take even if it is a bit of a downer.


However, according to both marketer and agency, the new ad does not mark a radical departure from the central brand thought or strategy. The ad still ties into the line ‘Iss Diwali Aap Kisse Khush Karenge?’ (Who will you make happy this Diwali?). This time around, though, there’s a definite call to action, to provoke people into stepping out of the digital space. Says a company source, “We wanted to get people to physically meet the ones they want to make happy. There were many creative renditions, but we chose this one since quite often, our parents and elder relatives are not comfortable with the digital medium. The medium too does not convey emotion all that well.”


Younger tech savvy consumers who spend large parts of their lives online were the main target audience. As a result, the commercial is an online exclusive and won’t be seen on television. Lonely Maa was seeded on the brand’s Facebook page, with links to YouTube. Says Mr Raj Nair, national creative director, Contract, who also stepped behind the camera to shoot the film, “It’s criticising the online medium while being on it. That’s hitting people a lot harder and driving the point home.” In its fifth day online, the commercial had garnered 14,112 views at the time of going to print. Both Contract and Cadbury are counting on the ad going viral. If marketer and agency are to be believed, it is particularly popular with the NRI audience who are unfortunately not the immediate target for the brand.


The few comments on YouTube are full of presumably negligent children lamenting the error of their ways and promising to be home for Diwali. And that’s as per plan according to the company source: “While the mother in the ad is struggling, she still has a positive attitude. Unless we made it a bit provocative, the response to the call for action wouldn’t have been there.”



For something built around the insight of technology as an alienating force, ‘Lonely Maa’ does evoke an early Nokia ad featuring a similarly lonely mother sifting through photos of her son. Mr Nair says he doesn’t recall the Nokia commercial at all but adds: “I leave it to people to draw their own inferences. This is a bigger thought: telling people to go and meet each other (preferably with a box of Celebrations). The non-technology aspect distinguishes it.” Apart from the commercial, Cadbury Celebrations also has a special Facebook linked programme lined up, to fly people home from Mumbai to Delhi in time for Diwali. So, to all the Lonely Maas out there; be careful what you wish for.




Source:The Economic Times

Copyright © 2011, Bennett, Coleman & Co. Ltd. All Rights Reserved


Image: Grab from TVC on YouTube

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