Scarecrow furthers Varuna Pumps’ radio campaign with a little help from Rukmi Bai and Jasmine Aunty

When the well is dry, we know the worth of water,” said renowned polymath Benjamin Franklin. He has been proved right. Today, people are seen grappling with the issue of water consumption and water conservation in different parts of India. Water is a scarce commodity, hence, the ordeal of having to deal with its shortage and/or wastage is a ‘pressure’ many of us face almost every day.

Centered around 21st century India’s water woes, Varuna Pumps, a popular brand of pumps and motors, has joined hands with Scarecrow Communications to convey how in order to help the masses, the brand is doing its bit by shouldering the responsibility of bringing water to the nearest possible location for them.

The brand had rolled out a radio-only campaign last year called ‘Paani Ka Pressure Hum Lete Hai’, featuring popular Hindi film actors Om Puri and Rohini Hattangadi as the campaign’s audio ambassadors. The campaign consisted of seven long-format radio spots which narrated the various water-related hassles faced by different stakeholders, end-users, intermediaries, and influencers — farmer, mechanic, dealer, master, society, husband, and wife, with the brand trying to establish a connect with all of them.

The communication was built around the idea that all of them faced different kinds of pressures everyday; and therefore, to let Varuna Pumps tackle the pressure of dealing with their water woes.

Varun Gajjar, director, marketing and sales, Varuna Pumps, opines, “We believe that every household in India has battled water scarcity in one form or the other. Looking at the brand’s significant presence in the domestic usage segment, our films have strategically chosen to address both ends of the spectrum — rural, as well as urban consumers in India — in an emotional manner.”

This year, the same campaign has been further extended to television and cinema screens. For this, the brand has rolled out two new television commercials (TVCs), with Om Puri’s voiceover, set in different locations across the country. Interestingly, the TVCs do not feature Hattangadi’s voiceover.

While Rukmi Bai’s story is set in the Rann Of Kutch where she has to walk miles merely to fetch a pot of water, Jasmine Aunty seems to feel helpless battling arthritis which makes it difficult for her to bring a bucket of water to her fourth floor home in Mumbai’s Parsi Colony in Dadar. Both films have been produced by Dileep Nair of production house Escaping Elephant, while Vibhu Puri has directed the films. Monty Sharma has lent the background score, and Savita Singh is the director of photography.

Manish-BhattWhen asked about the shift in medium from audio to visual, Manish Bhatt, founder-director, Scarecrow Communications, says, “Last year, we made a humble beginning for the campaign and wanted to focus on a low-cost medium with a high emotional quotient. Radio seemed to be the best choice then as also backed by our previous radio-based experiments for other brands. This year, we decided to extend it to TV and cinema as well.”

Commenting on the locations chosen for the ad films, Bhatt adds, “Water is a highly emotional topic for Indians. So, instead of treating the TVCs like a Bollywood ‘masala’ film or an ad film, we decided to treat it like an artistic short film to heighten the poignancy and the misery in order to evoke empathy across the rural and urban audience. We wanted to show through both the TVCs, a compelling problem where the adversity of the situation had to be accentuated and these locations helped us convey the message loud and clear for an erratically high involvement product like water pumps.”

Varun-GajjarAccording to Bhatt, the main challenge in this transition from audio to visual was that of getting proper air time while keeping the basic plot simple as air time on radio is much more economical compared to TV, and that in a short span, the importance, as well as the symbolic reference for the product had to be brought about.

At present, the TVCs have been released in Hindi, as well as in several regional languages including Tamil, Malayalam, Telugu, and Kannada. The brand has also released 30-second TVCs across more than 1,800 screens during the intermission of the Salman Khan-starrer film Sultan from July 6. Besides this, the TVCs will also be played during the intermission of the Tamil movie Kabali. The cities where the ads will be screened include Agra, Allahabad, Buxar, Cuttack, and Darbhanga.

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Ritu Sharda, senior executive creative director, BBDO India, seems happy with the execution of the TVCs, and in particular, with the casting of the Gujarati couple. On the other hand, Sharda wants to know why the ads depict only women having to face the pressure while even men could be going through the same grind. If both mediums were to be compared, Sharda prefers the TVCs, which according to her, convey the message better since television helps establish the needed emotional connect.

Talking about both the actors, Sharda adds, “…But, they have been used (especially, Om Puri) in the way they have always been used. I remember a cement commercial in which Om Puri starred and the style was similar. I would’ve loved to see them being used in a never-before way.” To the question as to “why Varuna Pumps is missing in the ads”, she says, “any pump brand would do that.”

John Thangaraj, executive planning director, North, FCB Ulka, gives a thumbs-up to the visual framing, the sound design, and Om Puri’s instantly recognisable voice, even as he feels that in terms of creating a compelling and differentiated brand platform that is sustainable in the long run, the films fall a bit short.

Published on AFAQS

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