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Return of Onida Devil delights people, but fails to impress ad fraternity

The Onida Devil – perhaps one of the most well-known mascots in Indian advertising like the Amul Girl, Asian Paints’ Gattu, Air India Maharaja, Vodafone pug and ZooZoos – returns to the ad world, once again, in the latest campaign for Onida’s air conditioners. 

The TVC, which hit the screens earlier this month, has been timed for the Indian Premier League 2018 season as Onida earmarks Rs 20 crore for IPL advertising alone. 

Taking on the mantle of giving the Devil his due in the ad campaigns this time is Taproot Dentsu. Mindshare is the media agency. Sourav Chakraborty dons the Devil’s avatar in the latest campaigns and he has big shoes to fill in as the earlier Devils were essayed by the likes of David Whitbread (who played the Devil for 14 years), Rajesh Khera, Aamir Bashir and Ashish Chaudhary. 

The last time the Onida Devil was seen in an ad was eight years ago. And all this time while the Devil was hibernating in hell, he acquired a wife (played by a Russian model called Daria). 

Neeraj Kanitkar
Neeraj Kanitkar
Elaborating on the campaign, Neeraj Kanitkar, Creative Director, Taproot Dentsu, Mumbai, said, “The Onida Devil is one of the most memorable icons of Indian advertising. When we had to create a campaign for Onida Inverter ACs, we knew that we just had to use him. After all, who but the devil knows which AC works the best even in the most extreme heat. He was resurrected in a new avatar as a die-hard fan of Onida Inverter ACs. The only ACs powerful enough to keep his house cool in the scorching heat of hell. A true testament to cooling prowess, if there ever was one.” 

Vijay Mansukhani
Vijay Mansukhani
On why they decided to bring back the Devil, Vijay Mansukhani, MD, Mirc Electronics Ltd, explained, “We created this whole Devil ad some 35 years ago. That time we strictly followed this ethos that whatever product we made, we should be the world’s best one and still we follow it. Advertising is just a manifestation. When we started this ‘Neighbour’s envy and owner’s pride’, that was exactly what it meant – ‘Model for Model, Product for product but we are better’.” 

He further said, “I don’t just want to use this Devil as a product, but it’s a brand face for Onida. The Devil will cut across all the product segments – be it TV, Washing Machine, AC and Microwave. The moment you see his face, you can easily recall the brand identity, which is a great thing. Basically, there are three things that make your brand work out. One would be the visual which is the Devil, then there is jingle that we don’t have, and the third would be the signature line for the brand. For some reason we had changed it and honestly after that we didn’t experience any great success. I’m pretty much convinced now that the Devil is the brand Onida. He will change the whole perception about the brand. He is not our product ambassador, but he’s our brand ambassador.” 

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Creative gurus on whether the Devil works for the Millennials 

There have been a lot of comments on the return of the Devil – some are happy at the return of one of the most loved brand mascots, while some can’t believe that the devilish charms have been domesticated. And the advertising fraternity wonders if the Devil will still be relevant for the digital generation that wasn’t even born when he first came on to our television screens. 

Brace for their candid comments... 

KV Sridhar, Founder & Chief Creative Officer, Hyper Collective and Trustee, Population First, ASCI Board Member:

KV Sridhar
KV Sridhar
“It is the third coming back case for Onida. Just like Liril tried to come back three or four times, but failed eventually because the relevance had gone. In those days, having a TV set was the most envious thing. The Devil was a metaphor for the envy of people. Today, a 41 inch LED TV set worth Rs 20,000 is also available to people of even the lowest of class, while the second hand version is of Rs 5,000. So today, they need to find another metaphor for envy. Today, what is enviable is to have a 4K projector at home or a home theatre, if you want to equate that with what Onida offered many years ago. The Devil has lost its meaning and relevance. So, however well you try to do it, it will look like a desperate attempt. It will look like a grandmother coming back from the grave!” 

“Currently, it won’t be relevant unless they do it something very creatively. I was the first person to criticise when Flipkart stopped using the kids in their ads. Likely they brought the concept back. There are a few things that are now not considered scandalous anymore, like a two-piece bikini. There are a lot of things that have changed from my time. Lots of things have changed from social to economic.” 

“The idea that worked for brands, say Asian Paints, don’t work today. The idea of Asian Paints – ‘Har Ghar Kuch Kehta Hai’ – is an expression of who you are and will always remain effective because people from every generation feels the same way for it. The idea will remain contemporary all the time because that expresses yourself through your homes, whether you are a millennial or a couple living in a chaotic space or in spic and span rooms. Various characters created, like the Maharaja, do not remain as effective as every other coffee shop has evolved. Newer symbols have emerged and they are quite different. Anything reminiscent of our father’s age does not remain relevant anymore.” 

Manish Bhatt, Chief Creative Officer, August Communications:

Manish Bhatt
Manish Bhatt
“Brands love to evoke nostalgia and revive their past glory. And some have managed to do so in an endearing manner too (case in point, ‘It’s different’ campaign by Maggi). However, I personally feel that the generation that loved the Onida Devil has lost its relevance. I’d have liked Onida to reinvent itself for the millennial with perhaps just a hat tip in passing to the Devil, instead of reviving an age old campaign. The new campaign seems to be fuelled only and only by nostalgia and instead of mining any fresh insight (not sure who to blame – client or agency). In my opinion, it’s just another lazy campaign.” 

Naresh Gupta, CSO, Managing Partner, Bang in the Middle:

Naresh Gupta
Naresh Gupta
“Onida has been doing this Devil reincarnation off and on. I don’t think it works any longer. It now looks forced and contrived. Also, now by reinventing the themes from the 80s, the brand appeals to a much older audience who know the brand. Today’s generation is more Game of Thrones and Infinity Wars or even Baahubali kind. Anti-hero as the protagonist is okay, but anti-hero needs a Hero to stand out, and there is no Hero in the campaign. Onida could have done much better.” 

Sundeep Nagpal, Founder Director, Stratagem Media:

Sundeep Nagpal
Sundeep Nagpal
“It’s possible that this could work better for them than the other positioning ideas that may have been tried, after all it is somewhat distinctive and almost proprietary, like a trademark for this brand.” 

“Millennials today are not likely to form a large part of the Onida TG. And even if they did, the brand may well believe that this communication is effective even for first time/ younger audiences...perhaps an attempt to re-create the same differentiated brand identity. 

Shanshank Lanjekar
Shanshank Lanjekar
Meanwhile, Taproot Dentsu’s Shanshank Lanjekar (Strategic Provider for Brands, Creative People and Clients), maintained that the Devil is Onida’s asset. “It had never gone anywhere. It’s a matter of choice when to use it and how to use it,” he added. 

 

 

 

Pallavi Chakravati
Pallavi Chakravati
Speaking about the relevance of the Devil in today’s time Executive Creative Director Pallavi Chakravati said, “It makes a seamless fit for the features of the brand and the brand asset that we had on the table. The challenge that we had while conceptualising the ad was to evolve the character and we did that with his wife, something that you have not seen earlier. The avatar of the Devil will change, depending upon the brief that we will get.”

 

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