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Haier India has launched a new air conditioner range in the backdrop of a post-pandemic appetite for clean air. The Drum finds out what went into the new product launch and the brand campaign. 

Air conditioner marketing has, for a long time, been all about providing cool air to a sweating consumer. No longer, as Haier, the global consumer durables company, announced the India launch of its new range of air conditioner for healthy air. The claim is that the air conditioner kills airborne hazards when the air circulates from the air inlet, thereby delivering healthy air to the surroundings thanks to its built-in LED UV light, according to Satish NS, senior VP, sales and marketing, Haier Appliances India. 

The brand campaign, conceptualised by the independent agency Zero Zero Creative Solutions, very unequivocally brings the focus on the need for cleaner air and healthier lungs, even when people are locked in their homes due to the resurgence of the pandemic.

Evolution of the AC category

The current penetration level of air conditioners in India is still very low, which gives the industry a huge potential for growth from both first-time buyers (more from tier two and three cities) and upgrade customers (mostly in metros and tier one cities).

In addition, shares NS, from a customer standpoint this category has been very "low-involvement, where the purchase decision has largely been dependent on word of mouth and dealer recommendation. Of course, that is changing with increased awareness, and the market is now evolving rapidly with more value-seekers looking for feature-rich products that serve more than their basic purpose."

Extending the AC’s job to beyond cooling

As consumers grapple with the ongoing pandemic, there is a growing sense of understanding among consumers that normal home appliances need to do more than their basic job.

Says Satish, “In the case of air conditioners, there is an inherent consumer desire that their appliance should also help in creating a healthier and safer environment for them while also ensuring energy savings.”

The just-launched smart AC is backed by some of these unique features: self-cleaning inverter technology (SCIT) through which a complete indoor wet wash can be done with the press of a button, a distinctive convertible feature that allows the user to reduce the AC’s tonnage capacity to add to the energy savings and a voice-enabled feature, that lets a voice command do the job of controlling the AC. 

Telling the brand - and the product - story in just 20 seconds

For the new launch campaign, the brand set out with an agency brief to create a series of three 20-second films that tell the product message in a humorous and catchy way, while keeping the focus on communicating the one key message: ‘healthy air through self-clean and UV clean technology’.

Now in a world used to 30-second commercials, this is quite a counter-category move. Holds forth Satish, while describing the USP of the campaign, “from a marketeer’s perspective, my key objective while working on a new campaign has always been to take the right amount of duration to deliver the brand message in the most impactful way – nothing more, nothing less.”

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From an execution perspective, says Kumar Subramaniam, director of the creative agency Zero Zero Creative Solutions, “we had to create commercials which were short and crisp since they were to be run on high impact media properties like IPL where both the cost and clutter is prohibitive.”

It was imperative to grab viewer attention quickly and make the point in a simple way, instead of being very laborious, adds Subramaniam, who has been working on Haier’s AC communication for some years now and was part of the team that had helped Haier to build on the strategic vector of delivering clean air three years back.

“The current pandemic-stricken environment has made this long-term strategy even more relevant”, he adds.

Challenges of marrying humour with technology 

For tech and spec-led communication, the key is to deliver the message in a digestible way for it to register and stay in the minds of people. Else it will end up passing like a ship in the dark, agrees Subramaniam. The challenge, thus, was to tell all this in a short 20-second ad duration, keeping the humour as the backbone.

Often when the duration is short, the temptation is to keep the humour slapstick, so it can be told visually. In Haier’s case, the agency opted to create a character-based story of two protagonists who play a game of one-upmanship. Of them, one represents the older generation and the other represents the younger and smarter consumer.

Adds Subramaniam, “We hope we've found the sweet spot between being funny vs being bizarre and far-out which would have left consumers scratching their puzzled heads!”