Sucheta Dalal :Why is Aamirsaab the Samsung Guru?
Sucheta Dalal

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Why is Aamirsaab the Samsung Guru?  

April 23, 2010

Samsung Guru has decided to go emotional in its new TV campaign. 'Dil to jeb mein rakha hai', is their bleeding heart punchline. The idea is this: Wherever you may roam (roaming costs aren’t mentioned, of course), you are just a phone call away from your entire ‘khandaan’ and lovers.
An old and dated thought, in a world where mobiles have sprouted fancy features like GPRS, MMS, GPS, Bluetooth connectivity, etc, etc? Yes, but Samsung Guru targets the lowest income bracket. It’s essentially talking to the villagers and the lower-lower urban middle class, so to speak. In that context, use of emotional stuff does make some sense. What ‘gyaan’ can you provide on a basic handset? But more on that later.
The campaign involves a series of commercials, with a continuing storyline, almost like a TV soap. (Hopefully there shan’t be any fiery ‘saas-bahu’ showdowns in this script!). The ‘mother’ commercial features the 44-year-young brand ambassador Aamir Khan as a fresh grad from a small village. (Another ‘3 Idiots’ hangover). He gets a call while dining with his large family, and announces that he’s landed up a plum job in the city. Aamir’s beloved, a local lass, is obviously heartbroken, fearing losing her love to the big bad city. But the ‘boy’ wipes tears from their eyes. By gifting each member a Samsung Guru. Cool. So now they can always stay connected with him. Especially when the migrant gets beaten by Raj Thackeray’s boys on arrival at the Kurla Terminus. 
Two big problems with this campaign: One, the use of emotion has been seriously done to death, particularly in the mobile phones category. Nokia and Airtel have both been there and done that. In fact, Airtel’s effort had a far better emotional quotient. As a result, the ads look pretty jaded and ancient. So zero marks on that score. The other bigger problem is the casting of multi-billionaire Aamir Khan as a poor ‘gaonwallah’. Doesn’t work. When these actors play such roles in the movies, that’s fine, there’s a fictional story being told out there. However, the moment they start hawking wares (and that’s no fiction!), miscasting makes the ads appear incredible and foolish. They needed a fresh face for this campaign. Or at least a struggling Bollywood chappie.
The problem is that marketers these days sign up celebrities for bulk packages. And call them ‘brand ambassadors’. And having paid them all that dosh, the temptation is to use them for just about any brand in their mix. Whether the brand-fit with a low-end product works or not. Wonder what next? Salman Khan cast as a beggar when a mobile phone company launches a seriously cheap handset? Hilarious! — Anil Thakraney


-- Sucheta Dalal