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Will Micromax be able to ‘juggle’ the brand game with Hugh Jackman?

The new campaign created by Lowe Lintas to introduce the Micromax Canvas Turbo smartphone makes the industry talk, especially for the fact that the spend is high and Hugh Jackman is a mega Hollywood star

Sohini Sen | Mumbai | October 29, 2013

Click on the image to watch the TVC.

Brand Micromax has been making news recently. This time it is for signing on Hollywood mega star, Hugh Jackman aka Wolverine, as the face of the brand. After releasing snippets and a teaser of the campaign some days earlier, the actual campaign has been released on October 26, 2013, a day when Micromax took out a 4-page cover ad in The Times of India. The brand’s intention and determination became very clear.

Micromax is an Indian mobile handset maker. A comparatively new entrant in the handsets market, it has successfully used Bollywood star Akshay Kumar previously to become a leader in the Indian rural market. A tie-up with Indian cricket captain MS Dhoni saw Micromax making headway into the urban market.

The recent campaign, conceptualised by Lowe Lintas, has taken the brand some big steps ahead, especially with Hugh Jackman on board, famous for his roles in movies like X-Men, Australia, Real Steel, Les Misérables, to name a few.

Shubhodip Pal

Shubhodip Pal, CMO, Micromax, said, “We are very excited to welcome Hugh Jackman in the Micromax family as he truly embodies the aspirational, reinventing and fearless persona of brand Micromax. As we look to expand our footprint across the globe in various international markets, the association with Jackman is an ideal partnership for us to connect with audiences as he is a leading name in the global entertainment industry.”

Pal added, “At Micromax, we have always believed in offering products and services that empower our consumers with the latest technologies and innovations. This is a strategic partnership and we look forward to a creating a strong 360 degree campaign with Canvas Turbo to bring alive this new experience for our audiences across print, TV and online platforms."

The first full HD smartphone from Micromax, the Canvas Turbo boasts a 5” Sharp FHD CGS (Continuous Grain Silicon) power-saving display that offers a dynamic contrast coupled with superior 360 degree wide-angle viewing and colour clarity making visuals appear brighter and more vivid. Micromax is known for making pocket-friendly phones. Like all other smartphones, the Canvas Turbo also comes with a host of features. The phone has 360 degree panorama shot, cinemagraph which helps users to animate still photographs, and object eraser to erase unwanted objects from still pictures.

The TVC opens with Hugh Jackman talking to the audience about how he found his childhood hero when he was 5 years old, at the circus. The visuals change to a little boy creeping into a tent after bribing a clown. The boy is enamoured by the juggler who can juggle anything – balls, knives, fire torches, chainsaws. The scene changes back to Jackman who says that he is the juggler now. The phone is then introduced, as Jackman shows how he juggles his many lives through this phone – be it his work, his passions, his friends, etc. The voiceover announces with a witty wordplay: "Canvas Turbo - Can juggle many lives". The TVC ends with Jackman reiterating the message: “It's nothing like anything”.

Shriram Iyer

"In the commercial, Hugh Jackman gives us a peek into a peculiar memory from his distant past, one that stays with him and inspires him to become what he is today. His choice of phone is based on that particular inspiration. Hugh, in a well woven monologue, almost goes on to explain the philosophical connect between his personality, his inspiration and brand Canvas Turbo. The phone combines great hardware with some incredible features. It allows the consumer to maximise his time and do many things at the same time. Using Jackman, a man people know to be of many talents and extremely hectic schedules, allowed us to demonstrate exactly that. Interestingly, the campaign you will soon see uses one of Hugh's lesser known talents as the central creative idea," said Shriram Iyer, Executive Creative Director, Lowe Lintas, Delhi.

Micromax recently revealed its plans for venturing into international markets starting with Russia and Romania. That is where Hugh Jackman comes – to give the brand a global face and perception. Will the strategy work to make the brand a household name? Here's what some leading advertising and brand experts have to say. There are strong reasons they have put forward why the strategy may not work, especially in the Indian context.

Swapan Seth

Swapan Seth, CEO, Equus Red Cell “I am a firm believer in the fact that good communication, like a nice drink, is all about the timing of the ‘when’. The commercial opens with a nice insight: juggling. It then draws you into a circus. Nice even there. Then comes the ‘when’ Jackman.

“I have had a lifelong crisis with celebrity advertising. I believe celebrities must be used as celebrities. Not models. This is where I have a strategic struggle with Jackman.

“But then I am an old geezer. I am told that Micromax isn't very cool. Whereas Mr Jackman is phenomenally Polar. If that is the case, and if Micromax wants to transition from eewh to oooh, things aren't quite Les Miserables. This may do some good for them. And yes, if they have international intentions, this is fine angel funding.”

KV Sridhar 'Pops'

KV Shridhar ‘Pops’, NCD, Leo Burnett “On the one hand it is very ambitious that an Indian brand has the guts to do this – take an international star to promote its product. Hugh Jackman is someone who is loved by critics and movie goers alike. I applause this ambition of Micromax. The campaign in itself has been nicely made. It is youthful and can be recollected easily.

“But again, I am doubtful whether they will achieve what they have set out to do. In India, only a small percentage watches Hollywood movies. And out of that maybe a handful would know who Hugh Jackman is. Now, if he can't be recognised by the masses, how will the brand become bigger?

“Funnily enough, unlike usual cases, in this campaign the recall value will work differently. They will recall the brand but not the actor. An Indian brand ambassador would have probably made more sense – we are after all a growing market.”

Anand Halve

Anand Halve, Brand consultant and co-founder, Chlorophyll “The truth is we as a country are still fascinated by international things and international acceptance. Authentic international brands like Mango and UCB using international models makes perfect sense. But when Indian brands use it in an attempt to pretend they are internationally accepted, if not pedigreed, it is not justified.

“Micromax itself has used international settings and models before which helped to lift it up in the perception level. But whose? It is like using a fake Louis Vuitton bag! The ones who will use it would be the middle-class people. The ones who can make out the difference will not buy the fake ones because they are used to the originals.

“Again, had they only used international models it may have worked. But they picked a celebrity. The thumb rule of celebrity endorsements would be he should be well known. An unrecognised celebrity is an oxymoron. And here, without his wolverineness, Jackman can't be recognised by most people. He is a non-entity. He is like a luxury car, say an Alfa Romeo, that most people in India have no clue about.

“Micromax has done a number of smart things previously. But this time the campaign won't ring any bell. Unless there is a movie coming up, or any such on the anvil that we don't know about, it is a 12 to 1 long shot.”

Prathap Suthan

Prathap Suthan, Managing Partner, Bang in the Middle “You know what? It feels good to know that an Indian company went ahead and did this. That they had the guts. Unfortunately, do they have the credentials? I haven't heard of many people using Micromax phones.

“It is a technology company. But they don't have a pedigreed reputation. Nor do they have a critical tech edge. And that edge is important when you take a huge name as a brand ambassador.

Micromax has previously used Akshay Kumar and grown. According to me, it is a little too early for them to take someone of Jackman's stature.

“In terms of the smartphone segment, they have a long way to go. So many other larger brands are there in the market now. People use their due diligence to buy a product. I mean, the first thing we will do is probably google a phone's model before buying it. You need to have muscle behind you before you take such a big step. Samsung had that technology in place which is why using Aamir Khan to reintroduce the brand worked for it. But Micromax is not ready and needs to have a larger mass following it.”

The TVC:


Credits: Creative Agency: Lowe Lintas

Creative Team: R Balki, Amer Jaleel, Shriram Iyer, Shayondeep Pal, Mohit Arora, Arko Bose, Anshul Nagpal, Ipshita Bose Business: Rajiv Chatterjee, Ashwarya Wadhwa, Priyank Pant, Sana Ahsan, Tanushree Paul Production House: Perfect 10 Films Director: Richard D'Alessio Producer: Shouvik Basu


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