If you aren't really interested in an evening out, it shows. As they dress for a party, a man checks with his wife if she's bought a gift for their hosts. "Yes," she replies, with a bored expression.
At the party, they present a brightly-wrapped, tent-shaped box to an equally-disinterested looking couple. The gift? A pair of tacky-looking porcelain dolls seated on a swing.
The knick-knack is promptly palmed off to another unsuspecting party-thrower, and from him to another. As the 1980s' Hindi film song Tohfa laya plays in the background, the gift finally makes its way back to the original givers. Embarrassed by the regifting, they decide to switch to gifting chocolates. A box of Cadbury's Celebrations accompanies them to the next party.
The reaction is predictable: it is accepted with a big smile and later shared by all the friends. The voiceover suggests a sweet gift that makes relationships special. The ad ends with Celebrations' new tag line: "Helps foster relationships".
On air for a few weeks now, this new campaign by Cadbury India has a simple proposition: extend the relevance of its gift range Celebrations, from occasion-based and festival gifting to social gifting.
For more than two decades, Cadbury has been the undisputed leader in the Rs 1,250-crore (Rs 12.5 billion) Indian chocolate mart; its 70 per cent share of the market means it is way ahead of other players like Nestlé and Amul.
"We have been trying to introduce chocolates for various new occasions. The only way forward for us is to grow the market," says Sanjay Purohit, director, marketing, Cadbury India.
That's only one part of the story. At another level, Indians prefer traditional sweets. That means penetration of chocolates, essentially an acquired taste, is pitiful.
With an annual per capita consumption level of around 0.14 gram, compared with 10 kg in the US, the Indian market is among the smallest in the world: India accounts for under 0.5 per cent of the $57-billion global chocolate market.
But the market looks sweet. Recently, US giant Hershey tied up with Godrej, while Italy's Ferrero (known in India for its bestselling hazelnut chocolate Ferrero Rocher) is looking to set up a manufacturing base in the country.
Over the coming months, the new entrants will certainly stir things up in the chocolate market. More worrying for Cadbury, though, is the possibility that the newer varieties they launch will make older players appear tired and unimaginative in comparison.
Cadbury has been preparing for such an eventuality. In 2006, the company began a consumer research initiative to explore new avenues of growth.
When the research results came out in January this year, the pointers to the Celebrations range were unmistakable. The research showed that many consumers were unsure of what to give at social gatherings and parties.
More than 300 respondents from eight cities also confirmed that they usually received meaningless gifts. A large segment of these consumers recycled these gifts and handed them out at the next occasion bottles of wine, especially, were most often regifted. The opportunity to grow Celebrations until now brand sales and salience was confined to festivals like Diwali or Raksha Bandhan was obvious.
To make the product more relevant as a year-round gift, Cadbury has launched the range in a variety of new packs and flavours. Accordingly, the price point has also dropped from Rs 200 to Rs 150.
The brief given to Contract Advertising, which has handled the Celebrations brand since inception in 1997, was simple: make the brand relevant to social gifting. The agency decided to use the very consumer insight of recycling gifts to drive home its point.
Contract vice president and executive creative director Raj Nair, who also wrote the creative for this ad, explains, "We have all been guilty of recycling gifts. Hence we thought showcasing this behaviour humorously was the best way to make consumers think."
The 45-second commercial was shot across various locations in Mumbai. The film was shot by director Dipankar Bannerjee of Reel Company, who came under the spotlight with 2006 Hindi film <i>Khosla ka Ghosla</i>.
With the theme of the ad film and even its implementation easily decided, the biggest challenge in the Celebrations campaign was finding the perfect gift perfect for regifting, that is.
"We went through hundreds of disreputable gift items like disgusting looking clocks, various porcelain dolls, soft toys and so on before finally settling on the doll with the swing," laughs Nair. Now, the doll is displayed prominently in his office.
Given Celebrations' niche, upscale appeal, the campaign is sharply targeted at consumers in the top 10 cities. The brand is available at only about 100,000 outlets in towns and cities with populations of over 1 million, compared to the 175,000 outlets that the mother brand reaches. Still, Cadbury is reaching a wider audience with its communication strategy.
The commercial appears on screens at 15-20 multiplexes in the target cities, while mass Hindi channels such as Star and Zee, news channels and even regional biggies like Sun and Udaya are part of the media plan.
Although Celebrations accounts for only 6-7 per cent of total sales, Cadbury has earmarked close to 20 per cent of its annual advertising budget for the campaign.
"Celebrations as a brand has done well and has gathered some critical mass, so with some good advertising we believe we can leverage it now around other occasions too," explains Purohit.
The <i>Tohfa</i> film will get another airing immediately after Diwali. During the festival, though, the focus will be on the mother brand, with a campaign featuring brand ambassador Amitabh Bachchan gifting Cadbury chocolates to an old friend. The company is confident its efforts will pay off.
The gift commercial showed "extremely positive" results, say company sources, when it was tested on various focus groups by market research agency IMRB.
"The advertisement will further change consumer behaviour and we think it will help increase the brand's contribution to over 10 per cent," says Purohit. That will call for another round of Celebrations.