In mass media, stereotypes are everywhere. In movies – an Indian call-centre employee, the loud Sindhi, the perennially drunk mechanic Pinto, the vibhuti-clad South Indian are all stereotypes we are used to. Advertising too isn’t far behind with these kind of images – the eternally exuberant Sardar being just one of them. The attempt, I guess is to ‘connect’ with the audience by portraying them or an aspirational group on screen. This ‘connect’ business comes into play very strongly when the target audience is the youth – specifically the college going crowd.
Agency planners, suits and creatives sometimes do get a first-hand picture of their end consumer through consumer groups or market visits. But very often they work on a calculated or ‘informed perception’ if I can call it that. There is a mental image of the target audience, their lifestyle and attitudes towards a particular product category. When it comes to youth, such a perception can lead to stereotypes: they are the types who are perpetually hanging out with friends in pubs & discos, are full of masti and are obsessed with trivial things in life.
The latest Nokia Smartphone ads – Epic Dramas are in a way meant to ‘connect’ with the youth. The brand is reaching out to the youth and saying ‘hey we understand you, we speak the same language’ and hoping that the youth will respond in kind. The ‘dramas’ unfold in the series summed up as ‘being young is not as easy as it looks‘. What are the dilemmas they face, you ask? The answers are: red or green shoes? Which place to hangout tonight?
In India Nokia has been facing competition of late in the form of cool new smartphones form RIM, Samsung and Apple leading to loss of market share. The halo around Nokia has perhaps dimmed. So it was critical to regain appeal among the youth. I guess these connect with the youth – I don’t know. Some questions remain: how deep is the connect? In ‘being young is not as easy as it looks’ and linking it to trivial everyday dilemmas, is there a stereotype lurking around? Do comment in.
Update: @2shar over at Twitter points out: ‘Saddening that they used an app for the ad that’s available on many other platforms, instead of a truly marquee Symbian app‘. True that. The story actually boils down to guys finding their way to a pub using maps and a girl receiving messages from friends that help make up her mind.