‘Trivago guy’ makes a comeback in Paytm ad. What makes the move a smart one?

Remember that ‘Trivago Guy’? A very familiar face in all Trivago ads, who was often trolled and found ‘annoying’ by some, Abhinav Kumar now crops up in Paytm ads. The former Country Manager of Trivago joined Paytm as Vice President - Product Marketing in September 2019.

Kumar features in Paytm’s latest campaign that seeks to position their one QR code for merchants business to resolve customer confusion at a ‘dukaan’.

The ad shows the shopkeeper and his wife recognising Abhinav Kumar from TV. This is because Kumar is instantly recognisable as the ‘Trivago Guy’, who was a quintessential part of all Trivago campaigns in 2017 and 2018.

Trivago was one of the top 10 most advertised brands on television for 2018 as per BARC data for the period January 1, 2018 to December 22, 2018 and from December 22-28, 2018, with 536,908 and 11,557 ad insertions, respectively. Following the advertising blitz, the character of the ‘Trivago guy’ became a well-known face to viewers. (Sourced from various media reports)

Communications Consultant Karthik Srinivasan opined, “Paytm is not looking at this campaign from a B2B perspective, but rather leveraging the broader awareness and familiarity of the ‘Trivago guy’, which obviously came from the media spends of Trivago.”

Srinivasan applauds the move by Paytm, because Abhinav Kumar has equity in the minds of the audience and had generated media attention when he switched jobs to Paytm. “There are a few examples in India where there is a spirit sequel of a thought, where one brand uses the familiarity of another brand for their own benefit,” he added.

He cited the example of Peloton ad, seller of exercycles and treadmills in the US, which launched this commercial the month before Christmas. 

While a lot of it may have been hyperbole, ‘The Gift That Gives Back’ creative was widely criticised on social media for being sexist and dystopian. It certainly came across as inauthentic to audiences. Despite the negative press – or perhaps because of it – the ad and the woman featuring in the ad were widely recognisable to the public, a fact which was leveraged by actor and marketing stuntman Ryan Reynolds to promote his brand, ‘Aviation Gin’.

Brand Haier found itself in hot water when they released a campaign mocking the famous ‘Mr Murthy’ character prominently featured in Voltas AC ads.

Since both brands compete in the same category, Voltas actually took Haier’s creative agency Zero:Zero Creative Solutions to court for disparaging their ad.

Paytm’s tongue-in-cheek campaign is also mocking in its tone, but it is not brand Trivago that it is making fun of.

“It is for the advertising fraternity to know that Paytm has leveraged the ‘Trivago guy’, but what about the larger subset of the population the campaign is intended for?” asks Vinod Kunj, Founder & CEO of thought blurb. He remarked, “This is an interesting character. If you do a dipstick around the ‘Trivago guy’, there is a uniform reaction to him.”

Kunj observed that people are likely to say ‘He is so irritating’; ‘He’s got such a nasal voice’. “The ‘Trivago guy’ represents a new phenomenon of a dysfunctional brand ambassador. I call him the meme man. A whole lot of WhatsApp memes are shared mocking the original Trivago ads, making the character popular.”

He further felt, “The Trivago ads have nothing. There is no creativity, art direction, performance; one would think the entire ad is dysfunctional. With his nasal tone and denim and ill-fitting jacket, the ‘Trivago guy’ appealed to certain segments in Tier 3 and Tier 1 audiences who are creating memes. Somewhere he struck a chord.” While that may be true for the Trivago ad, Kunj believed that Abhinav Kumar has matured as an actor and the creative execution of the Paytm ad is far better.

Here are some memes featuring Trivago guy.

It helped that Abhinav Kumar is prominent and active on his social media handles on Twitter and LinkedIn. He often engages with people who tag him in memes on Twitter.

“The Trivago guy was someone the audiences loved to hate. His appearance in the Paytm ad makes it stand out, otherwise it would just have been one of those payment ads,” said Ricardo Vaz, Associate Creative Director – Copy, Enormous Brands. He added, “The style of delivery in the Trivago ad was very instructional, which works in the Paytm ad which is targeted towards the merchant side.”

Vaz opined that since the ad is interesting, even if the viewer doesn’t know who the ‘Trivago guy’ is, they might be compelled to search for him on Google since there is a heavy reference regarding his appearance on TV.

Near the end of the Paytm ad, the Trivago guy tells the ‘dukaandar’ and his wife that they will also appear on TV, hinting that perhaps Paytm may roll out a TVC at a later date. While experts agree that leveraging the Trivago guy’s equity was a good move by Paytm, they might want to wait and watch the reception on social media before they launch a larger TV campaign.

At the time of filing this report, the advertisement posted on the personal LinkedIn handle of Abhinav Kumar has gone viral and opened to a positive reception.


News in the domain of Advertising, Marketing, Media and Business of Entertainment

More in Advertising