Anyone who enjoys watching the IPL matches will tell you there are three things that keep him/her going: the fast-paced cricket, the peppy cheerleaders, and the completely whacked-out Vodafone Zoozoos. I can’t think of the last time viewers actually looked forward to watching ads on TV. Usually, commercial breaks are used as a good time to slip into the loo. Or to check FB status updates. Or to tweet. Or to grab a beer. And so on. The success of these creatures is a remarkable story in Indian advertising.
So it’s a good time to list down the reasons why the Zoozoos are such a huge hit, and the lessons marketing and brand managers need to learn from their success.
1. The creatures have a universal appeal. Across socio-economic strata, and beyond age and gender barriers. The Zoozoos appeal to all segments. This is critical for mass brands. There’s no point using characters that have limited appeal, aka an Onida Devil or the Air India Maharajah (both dead and buried, not surprisingly). And the egg-heads play to the galleries, so no cerebral juggling is required while conceptualising the situations.
2. Vodafone has proved that it’s possible to involve the audiences without using celebrities. A good lesson for brand managers who rush to movie stars and cricket players, because they either don’t believe in their own brands, or are too chicken-hearted to take risks. Non-use of celebs assures some serious cost savings. That moolah is then used to create multiple commercials and achieve carpet coverage in the media.
3. It’s a highly extendible idea. The Zoozoos can be used effortlessly to communicate any new offer/feature from Vodafone. The humour is in-built, and all the creative directors need to do is put the creatures in a mad situation. Notice how other cell-phone makers struggle with movie stars when it’s time to spell out features. Airtel is a good example.
4. The Zoozoos help impart a truly distinctive brand identity for Vodafone. The lock-in with the brand is deadly. And because of that, they make the advertising and the brand memorable. Which is the hallmark of a good idea. Other marketers with lesser ideas go to ballistic levels to be noticed and heard. The Havells’ hangman ad is a good example. The Zoozoos simply break the clutter through their uniqueness.
5. The creatures can be seamlessly extended for 360-degree media usage. For example, they get smartly used for in-place promotions at the IPL matches. Not only do they plonk the lovable creatures in the midst of the crowds in the stadium, but at last year’s finale, they had the studio anchor do a live interview with them, where the Zoozoo couple belted out solid cricket gyaan in their hysterical voices. (To be cruelly honest, they made more sense to me than some of the ‘esteemed’ empanelled commentators). Imagine the impact: reportedly, 29 million people watched the final match on their TVs, what a massive Zoozoo dose that. Brilliant stuff!
Hope other brand managers are taking some cues from these crazy creatures. — Anil Thakraney