Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Invasion of ZooZoo

Oglivy India has struck again. This time for Vodafone with ZooZoo and the whole thing has taken everyone by surprise. ZooZoo is a character created to communicate Vodafone's VAS during the IPL. A series of total 30 commercials about the various services offered by Vodafone. I know it's old news as some of you might say but sitting in the Paris office of Ogilvy, I do feel the heat. Everyone's talking about it and they love it. Seems like ZooZoo is making the most of now, hein? Evident from Facebook and Youtube. This article shows some figures etc. about the recent success.

Well, instead of talking about how great the idea is and how it is taking the digital world by storm, I was thinking how the creative guys envisioned the idea it in the first place. What was the problem? What was the brief? What was the strategy? Finally how did the idea turned out to be larger than the brand?

Now this is purely my opinion and I might be very wrong. In case you know the real story or truth behind the whole campaign, please do enlighten me.

The problem: The Indian mobile market is growing at a healthy 20% y-o-y which is coming mostly from the semi-urban and rural market while the urban metro market has become quiet saturated. The brand is also facing severe competition from lower call rates from CDMA and BSNL and other newer and smaller players like Virgin Mobile, Idea Cellular, Aircel etc. With 90% revenue coming from voice and rental, 5% from P2P and the rest from VAS, so mobile operators have hardly anything new to talk about. Vodafone wants to position itself as a leader in the Indian mobile market with VAS as the potential revenue generator for the brand in the future. Therefore it makes sense to target and attract the urban youth with innovative value added services and increase usage (read revenue).

The Brief from the Client: Do exactly what you have previously done for Hutch. Create a character that will strengthen the brands bond with consumers and allow them to explore different value added services offered by Vodafone.

The Strategy: Build a character that is so simple and so stupid but so entertaining and so surprising that mobile users demand more of it. (Now this sounds like a very stupid strategy, but irreverence has its own place in the world of communication) To argue my point let me ask, what strategy did Saatchi adopt for T-Mobile with its flash-mob film and the recent show they pulled off at Trafalgar Square in London, though its nice to tie everything together as 'Life's for sharing'? Like I mentioned yesterday, what is the strategy behind Arnet and hairs? Surprise people. Make people feel good. Make them discover. The way people want to consume advertising is changing (no, am not talking about media or method here) making communication easy yet so very challenging. When irreverence takes people by surprise, you get to create a new differentiator for yourself. This is exactly what the strategy is - Make Vodafone surprisingly irreverent to people (a complex mental state of surprise, fun, entertainment all put together)

The Idea: Rajeev Rao, one of the brain behind ZooZoo is a great creative guy. He did it before with the Pug and the Little Boy for Hutch, something that caught the imagination of people. He created a series of this Pug and Little Boy commercials. That ugly pug became an instant icon and so did Hutch. The campaign was creative, it was effective. So he understands how to make ugly, odd things look extremely stupid and funny and yet get away with it. ZooZoo does exactly that. ZooZoo is this odd white egghead shaped character that is pure entertainment. It does stupid things, knows how to make fun and make people happy about it. The only clever thing that the creative and the production team did was not making another animated film. But using real characters to act as animated ones. And in the process confusing consumers to the hilt and forcing them to question, what is it? The process of not knowing what is it encourages people to come together. Just like people came toegther and started singing not knowing its a fast one pulled on them by T-Mobile.

So what is the winning formula here? The winning formula is not coming up with a great idea, but how to surprise people at the right moment in the right place. ZooZoo launched during IPL when all eyes are glued on the television set. ZooZoo started giving downloaded goodies to people to play with. They let people digital share stuff and have fun with it. It's like seeding the ZooZoo idea are different places and seeing how it grows from there. To me ZooZoo is a perfect example of Transmedia Planning though am not to sure if Transmedia came in Rao's mind while thinking about ZooZoo. Thanks to Faris who gave us this term (but I do have a question for Faris - How different is Transmedia Planning from the much abused '360 Communication Planning' we often talk about?)

Yes, I may have missed out on several important questions like effectiveness, will it increase VAS users, how to make Facebook fans download VAS application for their mobile by making them pay, what does it mean to semi-urban and rural consumers etc etc. Nevertheless, ZooZoo is big idea and has the potential to live for many years. ZooZoo has showed us it can surprise people and create an auro of irreverence around the brands core promise - Make the most of now. That's exactly what the Vodafone should do, allow to make the most of now.

Do let me know what you think?


Sowmya said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sowmya said...

Indeed The Zoozoos are an interesting phenomenon. And as has been reiterated Vodafone would do well not to get roted in setting an 'image' - making the most of now is one thing and getting stuck in 'now' is another!

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pooR_Planner said...

Hi Sowmya,
Welcome to Tissue Issues. Didn't understand what you mean by 'rooted in seeting an image - making the most of now and getting stuck in now.' Do explain.