By Masoom Gupte
Ever heard of a Rube Goldberg contraption? May be not. But have you seen one? Surely, at some point. The contraption made popular by the eponymous cartoonist, typically features a deliberately convoluted process, designed to perform a simple task. It represents a chain of events, triggered by a simple action. Compare these notes to your visual memory and you are bound to come up with examples.
The concept or its derivations have been used quite popularly in movies, commercials and even in cartoons (remember Tom & Jerry?). Held up for examination in that light, the latest commercial of the umbrella brand Servo (the lubricants brand by Indian Oil), taking its inspiration from the Rube Goldberg contraption, does not give anything new. It begins with a boy trying to switch off the alarm clock on his bedside table who accidentally knocks off the cricket bat next to the bed. The bat in turn knocks of some stumps, one of which hits a toy car, then a bike and last, a truck.
The novelty however resides in the category for which the campaign has been designed — a category (lubricants or lubes as they are commonly referred to) whose communication is dominated by images of engines and pistons and is strongly inclined towards harping on the functional aspects of the product.
“The lubricants space is one of the least involvement categories in the space. Most people do not even look at the oil that is being used in their vehicles, leaving the choice entirely to the influencers like mechanics. We therefore wanted to build a strong emotive bond, apart from the rational one with our consumers,” says N Srikumar, executive director, branding and corporate communications, IndianOil. The “emotional connect” was further cemented by the storyboard that had several subtle messages embedded in it for the ones looking for cues. The commercial brings alive the Servo tagline, Add Servo, Add Life, thanks to a little exaggeration: the toy vehicles in the advertisement are shown to come alive when they come in contact with Servo. The entire gamut covered by Servo sub-brands in the automotive lubes space (for cars, bikes and heavy vehicles) is also covered by choosing the three model toys.
And lastly, as Nitin Karkare, COO, Draftfcb + Ulka points out, “We wanted to present our (Servo’s) market leadership position in a very charming and effortless manner. What better way to achieve that than to marry the innocence of a child, cricket — the obsession of our country — the brand and its entire range and present them all in a single storyboard.”
But this marriage of various elements is subtle and that should be an advantage, if the company decides to use the campaign in other markets. Servo is available globally, in around 20 international markets. The campaign can be extended to these geographies in time. “Globally, we focus on using outdoor, print and below the line activations, working closely with stakeholders. We pick and choose the markets where television is used. For instance, West Asia and Sri Lanka,” says Srikumar.
Apart from such macro decision making, the company must contend with some closer to home micro issues first. For instance, whenever a campaign breaks, it would coincide with certain events or periods in a year when the interest in the category peaks. Even the further bursts will be planned accordingly. But how can that be managed for an all-year-round category like lubes? Simple: don’t focus on event-based timing, but on the properties and media you are associating with.
According to the company, the launch of the new campaign is driven by the results of an internal tracking study that stated the time was right for reminding audience about the mother brand Servo. As per analysts tracking the sector the decision may not have been taken lightly.
The lubes market, comprising of industrial as well as automotive applications, is around 1.5 billion litres market in India with a market size of Rs 15,000 crore. The market is dominated by state-run oil marketing companies IndianOil, Bharat Petroleum Corporation Limited and Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Limited, which together control around 75 per cent of the lubes market. Of these, IndianOil leads the market, single handedly holding around 33 per cent share. With over 1,000 commercial grades and over 1,500 formulations encompassing literally every conceivable application, Servo serves as a one-stop shop for complete lubrication solutions in the automotive, industrial and marine segments.