You wonder what "Planet Earth" is when a flock of flamingos fill the TV screen. The camera closes in on one of them and the narrator goes on to give a description of the flamingo and its features in a monotone.
Bored? Just hang on for the twist in the tale: the voice-over explains that while flamingos have a long beak to help them find food, they do not have the mouth-watering combination of tandoori paneer tikka and potato chips that Bingo has to offer. A pack shot appears next, with the tag line, "Bingo - No confusion. Great combination."
Bingo is ITC's newly-launched ready-to-eat snacks that hit the market in March this year. In mid-March, ITC announced its foray into the Rs 2,000-crore (Rs 20 billion) fast-moving branded snack market that has one major competitor - Frito-Lay. After biscuits and pasta, the company is now eyeing this segment, which is growing at 30 per cent every year.
After spending months researching the consumption habits and consumer behaviour, ITC has based its campaign on solid research insights - like it had done earlier when it entered biscuits.
The company's in-house research team of eight people travelled extensively across the country, studying typical home-made snacks such as bhel, khakras, gol gappas and so on. The verdict: as many as 70 per cent of those surveyed confirmed that they would like to have snacks which are slightly familiar yet have variations in taste.
To achieve this, the company turned to the chefs from its restaurant business to dish out new and tasty combinations of existing delicacies. They created 16 different varieties inspired from regular snacks such as potato chips, khakra and pakodas.
Chips come in experimental flavours such as bindas masti chaas, chatkila nimbu achar and tandoori paneer tikka. Yet another product launched is "Mad Angles", which according to the company, is inspired by the Gujarati snack khakra and comes in tomato and chilli flavours.
The company has set up a completely new unit to manufacture Bingo, at its existing facility in Haridwar. But that's not all. To make sure the consumers are informed of their choices, the company has launched not one or two but five, 30-second commercials at the same time.
Thus, apart from what the flamingo has and lacks, a certain prof Sunder Raman talks about tangy lemon pickle and chips between Tamil-speaking lessons. Similarly, a spoof of tele-marketing ads dubbed in Hindi - complete with staccato voice and pretentious excitement about the product - talks about Mad Angles; two friends get confused between five liars and the company's "Live Wires"; and a CBI inspector clarifies the difference between the criminal Zango and Bingo Potato wafers.
All this for better brand recall. "We are trying to play with similar sounding words to get the brand name Bingo to register in consumers' minds," says Ravi Naware, chief executive, foods division, ITC.
The commercials were created by O&M, which was selected by ITC after the company called for a pitch in June last year. "This being the first campaign for the product, we have focused on the products and the brand name to aid recognition. Also our tag line emphasises that we have many combinations to offer," says Malvika Mehra, senior creative director, O&M, who wrote the creatives along with colleague and senior creative director Amit Akali.
The advertisements were then shot by Rajesh Krishnan of Foot Candle on specially created sets in Mumbai and a bungalow in Alibaug. Thereafter, the company has left no stone unturned to make sure it reaches to its audience.
Since the company's target audience is people in the age group of 20-35, the company began with Internet. It created a website www.bingeonbingo.com, which has free offers, games, downloads and even mobile games. The site has been advertised with banners on websites such as Yahoo, rediff and Sify. It's betting big on television, too.
The company has booked 10 to 15 spots per channel per day on youth channels such as MTV and Star World, mass Hindi channels like Zee and Star TV, and news channels. Meanwhile, the company's radio commercials can be heard between 8 and 10 a.m. and between 6 and 8 p.m. as research revealed that most youngsters travel during these hours and listen to the radio then.
About 20 spots A day have been booked on channels such as Radio One and Radio Mirchi. The company has not left out the print media. To familiarise consumers with its products, the company plans to advertise in most leading national dailies.
That's not all. In top 30 cities, over 1,000 outdoor hoardings have been booked to carry images of the product. Like Frito-Lay, ITC, too, has designed a merchandise rack for its products. The company plans to distribute this to 500-600 thousand retail shops to ensure visibility at the point of sale.
While this campaign will run for eight more weeks, ITC is already working on another campaign for mid-May. In its next campaign, the company wants to communicate the character and qualities of its brand to develop its personality.That campaign, too, will be a big budget multi-media campaign, confirms Naware. After all, ITC aims to be the market leader in the segment within three years. Now that the company is clearly on a promotion binge, will the consumers join the party?