Iconic Ads: Onida – Neighbour’s Envy, Owner’s Pride
Rather than promoting Onida as an owned brand, it was chosen to promote it as a brand that non-owners would envy
The Onida team and Advertising Avenues (Gautam Rakshit, Ashoke Roy, and Gopi Kukde) decided that upper-middle and upper-class Indians were primed for world-class products.
While the majority of the world’s television designs were horizontal, the debut of the new monitor design produced by JVC, Japan, was drastically different. And the product was at a higher price than existing brands, in keeping with the premium, radical design. And provide them with a brand that they can be proud to own.
Onida now needed to capture the customers’ attention. For brand awareness at a lesser cost, advertising had to be completely different. To do so, the Onida team and the Avenues turned to psychological insights and people’s behavior.
The communication goals were straightforward: Encourage people to notice how unusual the television was, and to associate it with newness, elegance, and style. Persuade them that possessing an Onida is a sign that they’ve arrived.
Onida was late to the fray. There were already 20+ brands there, but they were all talking about technical specifications that the customers didn’t understand. “It was Greek and Latin to them. If you hide the logo, you won’t be able to tell which brand they’re talking about since they all looked gray” Kukde remembers.
Creative Insight & The Line
Nobody had a story to share, so Onida, which had 67 channels, came in handy. It had a unique appearance, comparable to that of a modern flat TV. So we sought to offer the audience an emotion that encompasses everything,” Kukde explains.
Buying a television was an aspirational and emotional purchase in those days, and Ashoke, the copy director, admits that the campaign took advantage of that reality. “Logic was founded on a strange notion. In those days, six out of ten units in a building had a television set. There would always be concerns about the brand that the next-door neighbor possessed, and there would be comparisons. It was very plausible that someone would be envious of your television, which is how I came up with the phrase “Neighbour’s Envy, Owner’s Pride.”
Rather than promoting Onida as an owned brand, it was chosen to promote it as a brand that non-owners would covet (envy). The unpleasant feeling of jealousy has a bigger impact than the more commonly expressed emotion of pride.
Creative – Press
The hero had to be the product. However, anybody who had watched TV press ads would have seen blank screens, nothing is duller. These two aspects were coupled with a spectacular creative breakthrough: Smashing the TV screen with a stone!
Kukde went out and grabbed a stone, but quickly realized that a television monitor at the time was quite tough to shatter. “I tried hammering it with a stone, but it remained unbroken. So, in the end, I painted the crack on the screen and photographed that,” he says.
Three advertisements were created by the agency & one of them was the premise behind the broken TV. Something went wrong with the other two ad blocks. And the advertisement that broke the TV screen became the most prominent.
The advertising industry despised the commercial, and many people phoned Onida to express their dissatisfaction. However, when the revenues grew, the client stuck with the creative.
Televison Creatives & The Devil
Onida was soon able to afford advertising on television. A decision that was questioned by many at the time. (What good is promoting a TV to those who already have one?) Onida was on television for two reasons: Because no other brand was using television as a medium, it was able to demand a 100 percent share of voice even with a minimal expenditure.
While a print ad has an immediate reaction, and a stone smashes the screen in a split-second; a 30-second TV commercial holds the viewer’s attention for a longer time.
As a result, the Onida Devil was born – someone who knows the deepest desires of regular people, empathizes with them, and assures them that feelings like jealousy and pride are perfectly normal.
Then was the idea for a television commercial. As a result, the dilemma of how to personify jealousy arose.
We considered a green-eyed dragon and a variety of other ideas until Gopi came up with this devil,” Ashoke explains.
Kukde quite literally took a page from his college diary. “When I was in college, I used to do the ‘Thought for the Day’, and the principal used to give me a big book with all the angels and you’re in heaven at the beginning and all the devils let out at the end. People were being burnt and whatever else was going on”.
“Those photos captivated me, the horns, the pointed tail, and the clothing, of course,” he continues. As a result, any of these images might be used to personify envy.”
And Avenues determined that the devil would not appear like a devil, but rather a cute man.
The agency’s model coordinator, David Whitbread, met the bill. Kukde remembers, “I merely requested him to remove his moustache and he turned into the devil.”
However, the worst was yet to come. Kukde realized on site that Whitbread couldn’t act. “The fact that he was a terrible actor came as a shock to me.” There would be at least 25 or more takes just to utter one line.
When the attempt failed more than 100 times, the agency figured out a way to have the dialogue recorded beforehand, leaving Whitbread with only his lips to move.
“We were able to get more commercials that were somewhat better than the first. Kukde recalls, “The proudest moment was when we did several 10 second ads.”
Whitbread’s head was shaved afterwards, and the paper backup appeared to be more realistic than anything else.
The Onida commercials were sacrilege, violating every rule.
According to research, half of the people disliked the commercial and half liked it, but only in private. The worst-case scenario would have been ignored,” Rakshit adds.
According to feedback obtained by the agency, children were scared of the devil, and parents resented the ad for introducing a devil into their living rooms. The devil, on the other hand, grew to be very charming over time. “People realized he wasn’t a devil, but someone who understood their want to possess a decent TV,” says Rakshit, who oversaw the campaign’s marketing.
As they say, the rest is history. In just three years, Onida rose to become the uncontested leader of the premium sector, with a market share of more than 20%.