Whenever a campaign becomes a success story, one tends to look back and wonder ‘how the hell did we pull that off?’. That is exactly the question that lingered a few weeks after the films for flipkart.com’s latest campaign were done. Well, here’s a low-down on how the ‘No kidding, no worries’ campaign came about.
One fine, breezy morning, a brief for a campaign on flipkart.com came to us. It was fairly simple – address the fears of shopping online. Now we could easily do a testimonial campaign. Shoot it in a slick fashion, have good production values. But most of us here have an appetite for bigger things (food and alcohol consumption included). So after tooling and toying with a few ideas, a very basic thing struck us. Nobody invests trusts like children do. And we could also connect the fears of shopping by saying shopping with flipkart.com is as easy as child’s play.
A bulb on our heads was instantly switched on – shining bright (Sadly for Bangalore Electricity Company, the bulb wasn’t wired). We had something there! And yeah, while we are going crazy, might as well push the limits and see how adult voices go with kids in adult situations discussing shopping in a casual manner. ‘Hmmm…interesting’, Praveen Das agreed while Kartik Iyer knew we nailed it.
Then started the process of writing scripts. So we had kids, in adult situations and in adult voices. What else can we do? End it with a joke that connects back to kids. Dammit! We are going nuts here. ‘Hmmmm…interesting’ Praveen Das agreed again while Kartik Iyer almost danced in his chair.
Many scripts were presented to the client before all of us agreed that every service benefit deserved a film each. And so after about 50 scripts we finalised on 4. The client was pretty excited too. Now these films could either be a grand success or could fall flat on the face. There couldn’t be any other reaction. Hence, research.
In a week’s time we had rough storyboards in place, edited to a rough track and in-house voice-overs. Groups of people graced the panel and agreed to give their ‘valuable’ feedback. A call came on a Sunday evening as some of us sat with the Monk sipping from the glass of peace worrying whether it was half-full or half-empty (we should have worried more about the bottle). Verdict was out – it works! To be honest, it wasn’t that easy because when you ask people for their opinions, they don’t care if they are worth two dollars or two cents. But they APPROVED.
Ayappa was the strong contender to direct these films, given that he is also quite a character in himself and could bring some interesting touches. The phone rang almost the very next nano-second after we sent the scripts to him. (I personally think he was jumping in his seat though he did a very good job of camouflaging it. Ayap-we will talk about this over beers). He said he was ‘looking forward’ to working on this campaign. We politely agreed that we thought he would ‘do a good job’ too.
It took a couple of weeks for the production crew to get things in place. The right cast, the right DOP, the right art director for the miniature sets…it was elementary to have the best possible crew. Footcandles Films did a phenomenal job of this. One of the most important cogs was Shaun, the guy responsible for organising workshops with the kids to get the best out of them on the sets. He tilled and toiled, patiently teaching the kids the reactions required for the films. The kids seemed to love him too, what with his candy supplying ways, playing innovative versions of police-thief, asking them to shout as loud as they could when they were a little bored (single girls reading this…Shaun – good prospect).
Obviously everyone was excited about the shoot. Once the Pre-production meeting (PPM) was over, all we could think about was the shoot and how the kids are going to turn out. ‘Can they pull it off?’ ‘Will it look cute?’ ‘Will it look stunning?’ ‘Will the kids’ actions match the adult voice-overs?’ ‘Will we go drinking every night when we were in Mumbai?’. Ok, the last one is a secret…forget you ever read it. But basically, these were some of the hundreds of important questions that were running like Usain Bolt dashing for the world record in 100 mts. sprint.
Cut to: shoot.
Day 1 starts on a very interesting note. We take a hundred hours before get the first take. But that’s ok, we were just warming up. By lunch we had one shot canned. Kids and the sets were looking mind-blowing (refer pics below). We couldn’t stop gushing about it. We looked like children who were granted a lifetime free supply of chocolate. Yes, Kartik, you too J.
So anyway, the Cafe film was the first. And the kids nailed it after they warmed up. We were also looking at some spontaneous reactions we could add to the script. ‘Keeda’ as they call it in this industry. And that is exactly how the now-famous last line ‘That’s a classic!’ came about. A few options and safety shots later we wound up by 7 in the evening. It’s Mumbai and we were on a shoot schedule. What do you think we did that evening? Yes, that’s what.
Day 2 had parlour film in the schedule. Boy, were the girls looking cute! The pink set matched the pink robes of the girls and so did the pink hair dryer-things (anyone knows what they are called?). Slowly the girls soon get in to character. Every time the camera rolled, they would forget everything else but their characters. Just like the previous day, the children at the shoot sounded and looked older than most of us at the sets – thanks to our gushing.
Soon enough, the day went by and evening arrived. And we did what wanted to, needed to, and had to. Yes, again.
The office film was next. This was truly a wonder of a set! The unique thing about this set was that it had a roof! Now, miniature sets looked amazing, but the other three didn’t have roofs. So the true feel of the set came from this one. We looked like Goliaths! Most of the production guys were busy getting their jobs done while we were still getting over the entire experience (we still haven’t, actually!)
Of course there were several takes. But by now, we were enjoying every take. Every time the girl walked by in the film, the reaction of the guys near the coffee vending machine would make us erupt in to peals of laughter. Did the kids know what they were doing? Or were they playing along? I doubt we will get to know the answer to that. Maybe it’s best left unanswered.
The last and the final film of the series was the Couple film. Just like the other three films, this film was supposed to be a tickler. But somewhere while shooting, we had the idea of making it emotional. The joke remained in its place at the end, but the way it was rendered, we figured it might be quite cool to have very adult reactions – like a husband and wife in real life do. It was a gamble at the point of time. But something inside us told us that this was going to be very interesting.
The ‘wife’ nailed the expression in the last shot. All we needed was some ‘senti’ music from Sameer Uddin to pepper the film. And he did.
We saw the films a 150 times each during post-production. But somehow, no amount of viewing was sapping us. Some people who saw the films at that point were bowled over (at least that’s what they said). The most exciting part of the post-production was still waiting to happen. Voice-overs. In walks Chetan. We tell him there are 5 guys in the 4 films. He says, ‘I have done 500 till now’. We didn’t prod to find out if it was true. We didn’t have to, frankly. Because in the next couple hours Chetan changed his voice to 15 different ones and finalised on 5 distinct ones that were funny, cool, straight…basically, exactly what we wanted. Seeing the man in action, we were speechless (see the irony?). He calmly says, ‘Thanks for the opportunity. These are fun films. I had fun’ or something to that effect (you don’t exactly expect me to remember what he said verbatim, do you?).
That ended the work on films and in a matter of couple of weeks, the presentation happened and with some corrections and changes, the films went on air.
The day the films were to go on air, we were done chewing our neighbours’ nails as well (we momentarily contemplated taking a job at the local Salons for doing mani-pedi).
The response was phenomenal. The Cafe, Office and Parlour films went on air on consecutive days. After the Cafe film created some ripples on FB and on other social networking sites, it seemed as if people were waiting to see more – always a great thing for campaign. Suddenly there was a lot of buzz about the campaign. Dailies, advertising journals, bloggers…everyone seemed to be interested. The views on Youtube were increasing by the minute. And the best part was that we had another film waiting to go on air! Needless to say, the Couple film was very well-received too.
We had attempted something very different and unique. And it succeeded. Guess that only gives us a little more courage to do some great work without worrying too much about the result. At this juncture, we need to acknowledge the patience and faith that our client flipkart.com exhibited during the process. The entire team was involved in the process from the beginning to the end – which is tremendous, to say the least.
What makes the success of this campaign sweeter is that the process was as enjoyable as the result. Something that is rare these days. And this has recharged everyone’s batteries here at Happy. Watch out for more!