Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Vodafone Zoozoo advertisement campaign in India: Some reflections

(This entry was originally uploaded on May 2009.)

Haven’t you seen the ZooZoos? Now, they are the most popular thing in India. People love ZooZoos and all the stupid things they do. If you are sad, they will make you happy. If you are ill, they will bring smile on your face. They are very innocent creatures and with their innocence, they charmed the audience. Still could not figure out? Well, ZooZoos are the latest creations of Vodafone ads that are being showed during the Indian Premier League (IPL) matches. They are funny creatures with egg-like heads and thin limbs like sticks. The ZooZoo ads have become favorite among people. They created a huge fan following in India and it is rising day by day.

Vodafone Essar and Cheeka:

A subsidiary of Vodafone PLC., Vodafone Essar was previously known as Hutchinson Essar which was jointly owned by Hutchinson Telecommunications Limited and Essar Group. In India, it was known as Hutch. In 2003, Hutch Cellular Service launched an ad campaign that won many awards and praises from the critics. The campaign stars a cute female pug named Cheeka and a boy. Cheeka follows the boy everywhere. Cheeka was actually from the United Kingdom and owned by Vishal and Lisa Bambekar. The couple bought the dog from a friend in UK and they paid £ 1,000 (Rs 76,000) for her. The dog earned Rs.150,000 for the Hutch campaign. The popularity of the ad saved Hutchinson from a $19 billion buyout. The pug became so popular the in many places in India the pugs were kidnapped. It all happened due to the Hutch ads popularity.

The ZooZoos:

  • Now, we have the ZooZoos. Sixteen year old Shloka Khialani does not miss any commercial break during the IPL matches because she enjoys watching the ZooZoo ads. Each day, a new ad is shown during the matches. There are many people like Shloka in India who are crazy about these white, large-headed creatures.
  • The ads were created by Ogilvy & Mather, an international advertising, marketing, and public relations agency. Based in New York, Oglivy & Mather is owned by the WPP Group. It has 497 branch offices in 125 countries around the world and employs 16,000 professionals. O&M created the ad for Vodafone, one of the major broadcast sponsors of the Indian Premier League.
  • The ZooZoo ads were created to show various value added services of Vodafone. Each ad represents a specific value added service. According to Mr. Rajiv Rao, Executive Creative Director, O & M, the major reason for the ads becoming so popular is their similarity with the human world. The ZooZoos are innocent people who live in a world similar to that of human and they have emotions like human beings. The laugh at loud, feel pain and sadness and they are something in-between the world of animation and reality.
  • Mr. Harit Nagpal, Marketing and business director, Vodafone Essar said that it took six months to develop the concept. Several ZooZoo characters were drawn by Rajiv Rao.
  • The ads have become so popular that the company is planning to release ZooZoo merchandises in the market including ZooZoo bags, keychains, T-shirts etc. They will be available pretty soon.
  • Already, there is a ZooZoo facebook page and the fans are growing at a drastic rate. By April 30, 2009, the number of fans crossed 28,000 (another news reports says that the ZooZoo facebook page has about 35000 members). In the face book page of ZooZoos you can see all the commercials, download images and wallpapers. Here is the facebook link:

  • If you want to download all the ads, then visit these links:

  • One ZooZoo ad about beauty tips over the phone had been viewed 13,000 times on You Tube.
  • Bangalore based Nirvana Films shot the ad. Shooting of two or three commercials took place in one day. The entire ad film series took two and half months to make. The ad films was shot at 20 frames per second. This made the Zoozoo’s movements hurried and comical. In total, 30 TV commercials for ZooZoo. All the commercials were shot in 10 days. The entire project, including the pre-production, took a little more than one month. It was entirely shot at Cape Town, South Africa. Every day during the IPL match, 300 seconds of ZooZoo ads are shown on TV. The ad film was directed by Prakash Varma. The shoot cost Rs. 30 million.
  • According to Mr Harit Nagpal, Marketing & New Business Director, Vodafone Essar, the biggest challenge in making the films was expense, the audience and creating such large amount of ad films in one month. O & M spent huge amount of money. Viewers would not like to see the same ad during the matches again and again. So, Vodafone decided to produce a series of films that will be shown each day. They made 30 ad films, 13 of which are on the air. O & M spent Rs. 2.5 billion for making the ZooZoo ads.
  • Now comes the biggest shock, the white big-headed characters you see on the screen are not animated figures. They are real people; actually ballet dancers, dressed in white suits and wearing huge head gears.
  • In order to get the thin animated looks of the characters, the ad film makers used slim built adult women. Occassionally, they used children. To make the characters look small, a large sized set was built. They women were actresses in local theatres. One of the major problems they faced while shooting was, they could not see anything. The head gear was huge. In the beginning, very often they made mistakes. They walked out of the camera frame as they could not see anything. Gradually, they became used to the blindness. Very often, the actresses have to put down the head gear to breathe because there was no space for breathing.
  • The expressions on ZooZoos faces (smile, cry, pain) were simple and limited in number. They were made in rubber and pasted on their heads. Had they been done with animation, it would have taken several years to complete all the thirty ad films.
  • Prakash Varma, owner and director, Nirvana Films, took three weeks of pre-production days to conceptualize the whole ad film. For the body suits of the actors-two different types of fabrics were considered. One fabric was rejected because it had too many wrinkles and was shiny. The white body suit was stuffed with foam in some places. The head peace was made bigger to make the characters look comical. A hard material called Perspex was used to build the heads.

Related articles:

The Hindu Business Line

The Economic Times

Live Mint

Hindustan Times

Kerala Online



Vodafone Essar- Wikipedia


1 comment:

  1. Zoozoos are back to celebrate Independence Day. Vodafone is giving free patriotic Callertunes. It's sure to bring a smile on your face. Check it @