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Chaayos gets chai obsession right, but use of ‘mental’ panned by creative fraternity

The brainchild of IITans Nitin Saluja and Raghav Verma, Chaayos today has grown into a 58 café chain offering personalised tea and refreshments. To highlight its made-to-order proposition, Chaayos has rolled out its latest campaign, #MentalAboutChai, conceptualised by Mumbai-based agency Fatmen.

The campaign comprises 2 ad films which make use of humour and a little over-exaggerated storyline to showcase Indians’ obsession with tea and how they would go to any lengths to get the beverage made to their specifications.

The first ad film – titled ‘Baarish wali chai’ – shows how a rain-drenched young couple lands in trouble with their very helpful and generous elderly host when they criticise the tea he makes for them. The second ad film – titled ‘Shok Sabha’ – shows an impudent young man asking for ‘adrakwali chai’ at a funeral gathering and getting bashed for his thoughtless behaviour.

Launched in 2012, Chaayos found the sweet spot between growing number of coffee chains and high-end tea houses, and offer a café ambience to the millennials to meet and have a modern day adda over tea brewed as per their specifications. As the two ad films showcase, the impertinent youth at the Shok Sabha and the ingrate youth caught in the rain find succour at a Chaayos café.

The two ad films have had a low-key launch. In fact, brand has not promoted the campaign either on their Twitter handle where they have 4,000+ followers, or their Instagram feed, where they have a following of 24K+. In fact, the first place where people caught wind of the advertisement was on LinkedIn. The two films have also been released on Chaayos’ recently created YouTube channel, which is yet to garner sizeable number of subscribers.

Creative Speak

The ad films have not gone down too well with the ad fraternity. They have a problem with the use of the word ‘mental’ for the campaign, besides the over-the-top storyline, too, has been criticised. It may be recalled that the upcoming Kangana Ranaut-Rajkummar Rao film ‘Judgementall Hai Kya’ also faced flak for its original title – ‘Mental Hai Kya’ – which, many felt was insensitive towards people suffering from mental ailments.

Naresh Gupta
Naresh Gupta

Without mincing words, Naresh Gupta, Managing Partner and CSO, Bang in the Middle, remarked, “I don't think you understand the meaning of the word mental. Mental is either about the disability of mind (most commonly used) or about mental faculty (intelligence, cerebral, cognitive, perceptive). Your ad is definitely not about intelligence, it’s about disability or disorder. There is a massive difference between mad over tea (like Mad Over Donuts) and mental over tea. Communication is all about knowing the subtle difference and building on them. India has the highest number of people suffering from mental disorders. It’s a massive problem and there are brands trying to solve it, like the app called Calm. To insinuate that one of your protagonists in the ad is mental and that the brand is mental about chai is the worse insult you can heap upon fans of Chaayos.”

In a separate LinkedIn post, he further put into words his experience of watching the two ad films, “Some jokes just don't work, they are insensitive and in bad taste. A joke told in bad taste by a food brand can have deeper repercussions. The dolt in the ad is not the guy asking for chai, but the whole Chaayos team who don't realise how insensitive they are. Or you would say it’s just an ad. In that case, the brand premise is unjustified.”

On a different note, a LinkedIn user pointed out that the ad film is lighthearted, relatable and captures the USP of the brand that is the hook for the younger audience in the first place. He also felt that it might not work very well with the traditional audience.

Karthik Shinde
Karthik Shinde

"There's certainly a challenge to 'break the clutter' with bizarre storytelling or wry humour in today's digital advertising sphere, but still few find the space to sift through the sludge of the internet each day. Luckily, the new Chaayos TVC is a steaming example of such thumb-stopping content. What really stood out for me was the setting of the video, a shok sabha. A chai shared after work or a cup of Irani chai with your partner seems quite mundane but an untimely request for an adrak chai at a shok sabha! Well that's just dead-pan hilarious. What works for me is the kadak casting and refreshing dialogue delivery. Especially small nuances like the guy in the background murmuring 'adrak kaun mangta hai yaar'" said Kartik Shinde, Associate Creative Director, Tonic Worldwide.

He further added, "As a brand, Chaayos has chosen a unique space for themselves in the market by having a lighter take on chai and this video boils in sync with their philosophy. In a category where other tea brands bank on classical music, social causes, family time and mornings with a purpose, Chaayos, just maybe has found it's self to be hotter than the rest. Cutting chai with a Cafe twist, indeed!"

Nisha Singhania
Nisha Singhania

Nisha Singhania, Co-Founder and Director, Infectious Advertising and Firki Productions, responded, “The fact that people are finicky about their tea is a good insight and exaggeration as a route often works. But here, I feel in the given situation it is quite over the top and in bad taste.”

Ashish Khazanchi
Ashish Khazanchi

Ashish Khazanchi, Managing Partner, Enormous Brands, had a different take on the brand and its communication, as he said, “Chaayos is one of my favourite places in any city to meet people. I get clients out of their offices to have meetings over chai here. There's no greater joy than a perfectly made kulhad of chai and they do it especially well. Being so vested in the brand, I like the insight that they have worked on. As an insight, the tea drinkers would immediately connect with it. I wish the creative and the film making were fresher for it to have had an instant resonance. I'm sure they will keep getting stronger as the campaigns go along.”

Love the tea, love the brand, love the concept of chai cafes, but don’t like the brand communication seems to be the message we got from the creative fraternity.

Adgully reached out to Chaayos for comments, but were yet to receive a response at the time of filing this report.


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