It’s that time of year… With the Indian Premier League (IPL) back on, fintech brand CRED has launched its latest commercial, which resembles the vintage ad of Nirma that featured Ramayan-fame actor Deepika Chikhalia. Karisma Kapoor plays Chikhalia’s role. Dressed in a white saree and with a Doordarshan filter, Kapoor transports viewers to a different era.
Through the ad, Kapoor introduces CRED bounty, an invite-based feature that will let the brand’s members win prizes during this season of the IPL. The ad was conceptualised and written by Tanmay Bhat, Devaiah Bopanna, Puneet Chadha, and Deep Joshi. The film is produced by EarlyMan Films and directed by Ayappa. Karan Malhotra has composed the music.
When the writers posted the film online, a few users liked the execution of the film, a few others liked the choice of celebrity, and many were scratching their heads to understand the context of the film and the core feature that the brand was promoting. Some even called out the brand for its "lazy" writing. Whether we like it or not, CRED's nostalgia formula has worked (so far), even if it seems formulaic.
According to Rayomand Patell, chief creative officer, Idealake, CRED has “barely scratched the surface” when it comes to infusing nostalgia into its marketing playbook. He says, “I believe the first thing about advertising is having a differentiated angle into the communication one puts out. And as far as I’m concerned, riding the rich treasures of the past is a great way to take us back to gentler times, to an older India where another idea of India itself prevailed.”
Another observer said that sometimes CRED’s advertising seems like “it’s made for ad agency folks”.
However, Patell views it differently. “I don’t think CRED’s advertising is for the ad community, if anything, it’s for all of us. They consistently take only the most iconic actors, play around ads of yesteryear and remix the plot for a newer age,” he adds.
Omkar Joshi, founder and chief creative officer of the digital-first consulting shop, hybrid>, says though nostalgia has become the core identity of CRED’s advertising, “consistency is key in advertising for long-term impact, so this will become a challenge as it might not be sustainable as an approach”.
According to media planners, CRED’s marketing investments were to the tune of over Rs 200 crore in financial year 2021. In fact, the company’s losses widened as its marketing spending grew manifold in the same period. But with the quantum of marketing investments the company is gunning for, there has to be more engagement and action-led brand-building activities. “Else it becomes a classic advertising conundrum - it’s so entertaining that the brand's message never registers,” adds Joshi.From Rahul Dravid turning from a gentleman to Indiranagar ka gunda, Kapil Dev in over-the-top costumes a la Ranveer Singh (playing on the connection to the biopic ‘83’) to featuring Late disco icon Bappi Lahiri in a CRED ad, the brand’s advertising has been entertaining. For now, it seems, the remix/nostalgia approach is working for CRED as it goes for another IPL round.