Nipun Marya, Director Brand strategy, Vivo India, shares more — on the new campaign launched around Diwali and how the brand sailed through a pandemic year that was also high on anti-China sentiment
‘Things are looking up this festive season,’ says Nipun Marya, Director Brand strategy, Vivo India. With the brand launching a new campaign around Diwali Marya tells us how Vivo sailed through a pandemic year that was also high on anti-China sentiment and yet managed to clock a 25% increase in festival sales over the last year this Dussehra.Edited excerpts: How different has been the messaging for Vivo this Diwali? We were very cognizant of the fact that this Diwali is very different from all the previous Diwalis and thus wanted the communication to be contextual, keeping in mind the challenges of today. So, an ad shows the father facing pressures from his manager. That sealed the backdrop and from there we took it forward. What is the marketing mix for this campaign? The media mix has primarily been digital. This is a long format film and there are two aspects to this Diwali campaign. The first, of course, is the film and the second equally important aspect is the engagement bit where we are inviting our consumers to share their ‘Smile Wala Diya’ stories. We have lucky draws with more than 100 prizes to be given away. So, we have good messaging, coupled with an engagement contest, and finally gratification for winners. A few months ago, Vivo pulled back from IPL sponsorship for this year. How did that impact the brand? IPL is a property which we are very proud of being associated with and it has delivered very well for us in the last many years. We really look forward to every IPL, so this year was no different but of course situations were not the most conducive, and therefore we thought it was better we give it a break this season. Therefore, with BCCI this was a mutual decision but going forward, we will see that Vivo is back as the title sponsor. This year we thus restricted ourselves to a few spots on TV during IPL, that was the extent of our advertising this year. You pulled out of IPL because of the anti-Chinese sentiments, has that subsided and is it business as usual for you? The kind of sentiment that was prevailing has certainly changed now, specifically if we talk about brand Vivo. People today understand that Vivo is a global brand and yet a brand which is deeply rooted in India, be it manufacturing or job creation. They understand it's a global innovation brand, with focus on its commitment to India. Therefore for us it wasn’t very bad earlier or now for that matter. Consumers like Vivo for what Vivo has been offering them. That love and respect continues, even now. So, you’re basically saying Vivo should not be looked upon as a Chinese brand in India? That's what the consumers say. They do a lot of research around what they are buying and Vivo as a brand is spread across more than 30 countries globally. So, when you look at all those credentials, you understand you're buying an ‘international’ brand. Of course, the roots are in China, there is no doubt about it, but it's as international as any other brand can be, and I think that's how consumers perceive Vivo. How has the year 2020 been for you as far as sales are concerned? During the first phase of the lockdown, everything was down whether it was e-commerce or offline sales, including that for smartphones. However, when the economy started opening up and deliveries started, the situation certainly became better and my understanding is that the smartphone industry has been amongst the ones to recover quickly because the smartphone in fact has been our most dependable companion during this whole lockdown period. It became more of a necessity and hence smartphone sales recovered fairly fast. And we are seeing that trend even now. But would you say it has gone back to the pre-pandemic levels? Or has it shot up further? Overall, it has gone up. The Diwali week is critical for festive sales. But so far we are seeing a 25% increase in festival sales over last year as far as the Dussehra period is concerned. Therefore, it looks like this festival season should be okay. Things are pointing in the right direction. Does that mean along with your sales, your marketing spends have also gone up in the festive season compared to what it was last year? Compared to last year, I can't really say but our philosophy, our strategy, and therefore our actions have been very clear that whatever marketing support is required, whether it's ATL, BTL, digital, OOH, that has to be given because that is the requirement of the business. We launched two products recently — the V20 and V20 SE. For both we have had a TV campaign starting with the IPL, OOH, BTL etc around it. So, it has been a full 360-degree campaign, and the results have been also stupendous. So, V20 has clocked the highest ever pre-booking that we have seen for any V series model. And V series models in the past also have been the industry leaders.