Happy mcgarrybowen’s Kartik Iyer on creating one of India’s most iconic campaigns
How did the famous kids campaign for Flipkart come about?
When Flipkart came to us, they were just about three years old. They were doing digital advertising — SEM and SEO — by themselves; that set the trend for all start-ups. Our first job was to grab the lowest hanging fruit: people already buying books. But what they actually wanted was the next wave of growth. Our first commercial, the Fairytale, didn’t double or triple traffic which was what they and the investors were looking for. We hadn’t discussed these success parameters. So, we quickly went into a huddle and asked them to give us another chance. We could’ve lost the business if we went wrong. Research revealed Indians at the time had an issue with and trust concerns about online shopping. We had to build trust. It was clear that only three things consistently work in advertising: animals, old people and children. Vodafone was using animals and old people were being used by all other brands! And so we created ‘No Kidding No Worries’ around service benefits that Flipkart had built into its product like 30 Day Returns, COD and original warranty. It went on to make history with 800% to 900% growth.
What was the competitive scenario like back then?
There wasn’t any at the time. The competition such as there was came later and had weird reputation issues: not delivering on time or selling knock-offs. When we began, we were creating the category and what to expect from it. These service benefits changed the world for Indian consumers.
What was the experience like working with Flipkart?
It got sweeter since the first kids campaign did so well. I don’t think any category has seen that kind of growth or response after a campaign. We got an Xbox as a gift after that. It seemed a big grand gesture and we were very happy back then! The next step was getting people who were surfing but not transacting. We worked with them all the way to the first Big Billion Day. Over time, the people who had taken decisions when Flipkart was growing had been pushed up. In a rapidly changing world of startups, the core teams often forget to hand over relationships as they grow. This affects the brand, especially when new talent joins and they want to prove themselves with their own agendas in an already successful environment. Around the second Big Billion Day, we were told someone else was doing the films. We had, by that time, already split the business with Lowe Lintas. We wanted it all or nothing. They talked about renegotiating our relationship and so we decided to walk away.
Who do you think has the edge between Amazon and Flipkart?
I don’t think Amazon has anything unique in its advertising plank, but it manages with frequency since it outspends Flipkart and is always advertising. Flipkart did very well after it brought back the kids and it did poorly when they were not being used. It does have something unique. How they use it is up to them.
What’s the road ahead for the category?
For all new world businesses, products and brand need to build around the consumer, giving her comfort and joy. If not, they won’t win. The consumer is unforgiving and loyalty comes from the ability to consistently deliver. Most consumers don’t give a brand a second chance unless they are diehard fans. And in every category, there are at least two options.
The one big thing is to be open about your mistakes. After the first Big Billion Day, Flipkart wrote a huge letter and that worked very well. It’s important for any new age brand to recognise mistakes and acknowledge them publicly to consumers.