Thursday, December 15, 2016

‘ODDS’ – A Great Effort but less inspiration and more pity

I regularly watch ‘All About Ads’ on NDTV Prime, thanks to it I came to know about two digital ad campaigns, one is ‘Odds by Addidas’  and the other is ‘Uber moves Shankar’  I would have not known about these campaigns otherwise, so thank you All About Ads. ‘Odds by Addidas’ is only on the internet, whereas the Uber campaign is on internet and is supported by press ads. In this article I will discuss the ‘Odds by Addidas’ ad campaign, I would also like to discuss the Uber campaign but I will keep it for later.
The ‘Odds by Addidas’ campaign is different from others for two reasons; firstly, it is strictly on the digital platform – no TV, press or any other media. Secondly, through this ad campaign Addidas offers a special pair of shoes for para-athletes, the pair could comprise two lefts or two rights shoes, for athletes with one foot. The shoes can be bought from their site . The idea of having two lefts or two rights came from Taproot Dentsu India, the ad agency that conceptualized the campaign; a unique idea indeed. The campaign was launched this year during the time of Paralympics at Rio de Janerio, Brazil.
The film tells the story of Major D. P. Singh who suffered multiple injuries during the Kargil war in 1999, he lost his right leg and it took 14 months for him to start walking again. Major Singh became India’s first blade runner and among the first Indians to run a marathon with an artificial limb. In the film Major Singh is shown running on different surfaces which is truly awe inspiring, the voice-over is by film actor Kabir Bedi. You could see the ad embedded below or click this link to see it on YouTube. 
There is quite a lot of material on this campaign published on the internet (to know more click here), so I need not repeat all that in this article.
Addidas has always been associated with sport persons of all kinds and this ad aims to encourage, inspire and give hope to para-athletes. The ad tries to look at the positive side of life and tries to put across the message – If we are determined and prepared to strive we can definitely change our lives for the better. I think this positive message is not just for para-athletes and other sports persons but it is applicable in all walks of life. The target audience is quite obviously the disabled sports persons who are motivated by this campaign, but the larger picture is that it gives a tremendous boost to the Addidas brand image as a whole. I do not think this campaign is only aimed at the disabled after all the disabled sports persons are very few in number compared to the regular sports persons. Addidas, through this campaign, directly and indirectly, attempts to send a clear message of the importance of a positive way of life, where grit, determination, perseverance, believing in what you want to do and finally doing it, is important.

Major D. P. Singh’s story in the ad is meant to be an inspiration, but has it worked? I do not know because I am not privy to any market feedback which the company and the advertising agency might have, however I wish to express my reactions after seeing this ad.
I am happy that no film star was used; using the story of Major D. P. Singh does make good sense but the manner in which the ad was executed does not seem to entirely work towards the objective of providing inspiration and motivation. One does marvel at Major D. P. Singh’s achievement, but the look and feel of the ad is rather dull and gloomy. Such an ad should have a ‘feel-good’ factor which is required for a person to feel inspired and motivated after seeing the ad, but that element is missing. What you see evokes pity; it is made worse by Kabir Bedi’s tired and laboured tone of voice, the element of pity shows through both in the voice as well as in what is being said. Since the ad has been made by normal able bodied people, I suppose that the element of pity does somehow creep in without the makers being aware of it. Instead of the feeling of pity there should have been some element that would brighten up things and make us feel positive and optimistic – a feeling of triumph against all odds. 
Was having this campaign only on the digital and not at all on television the correct decision? The ad is only in English so it reaches out to a limited English knowing audience; I wonder if they plan to have the ad in Hindi and other Indian languages.
The screen area of the ad appears to be like a narrow band with a certain part of the top and bottom of the screen blacked out; it is like viewing from a narrow window. I do not understand the reasoning behind doing this. What was wrong in sticking to an aspect ratio of 16:9? If they had done so the ad would have had a better impact. 

And finally, about the pair of shoes which are available in two rights and lefts, no doubt it is a unique idea but why even sell a pair to someone who has lost a leg? Why not sell just one shoe? What would the buyer who has only one leg want two shoes of the same design? If Addidas was to sell only a single shoe the buyer would has the option of buying another shoe which has a different look; perhaps a discount could be offered on the second shoe. Anyway these are my personal views and impressions I got after seeing the ad, I would welcome views of anyone reading this.

The Major D. P. Singh ad has been followed up by another ad which is a story told from the point-of-view of the shoe, here is the link: Odd Tale of 2.

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