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Storyboard18 | Throwback: A boy, a dog and Hutch

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Storyboard18 | Throwback: A boy, a dog and Hutch

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The iconic ad film showed no technology nor did it talk directly about the phone network, yet effectively communicated the message of the reach of Hutch’s mobile network. Read about the campaign's genesis in this Storyboard18 Throwback.

“You and I, in this beautiful world.”
Pristine greenery, a boy spending his day visiting places, green fields and weathered buildings, with an energetic pug following him wherever he went. Most will immediately recognise the brand that used an unconventional approach to depict mobile telephone connectivity.
Hutch in India
Hutchison Max Telecom Ltd started its India operations in 1994 and expanded over the years. With telecom companies competing for a share in the Indian mobile market, Hutch wanted to show its superior connectivity. And around 2004, it decided to showcase this connectivity in its pan-India footprint with an ad film campaign.
Scripting a story
The advertising agency, Ogilvy, was given a very simple brief: tell a story that showed the span and connectivity of the network.
Mahesh V and Rajiv Rao, creative directors at Ogilvy, were thinking through various ideas. They were sure of a few things. Mahesh opined that they did not want to talk about technology and also wanted to consciously avoid showing people talking on the phone.
After much deliberation, they imagined a little boy and his annoying little sister following him around. They further refined this stream of thought. Who better than a dog to follow the boy unwaveringly, and also simultaneously provide unconditional support.
And so they hit upon the core creative idea. “Wherever you go, our network follows”. A dog, representing the network, following a boy representing the consumer, wherever he went.
The idea was presented to Asim Ghosh, CEO Hutchinson Max. Renuka Jaypal, who led the Ogilvy team on Hutch, recollects that after she gave an explanation about why this idea would work, Asim Ghosh had stared at her. He asked if the boy would represent the millions of customers and the dog the millions that the company has invested in India. Giving his ‘go ahead’ for the film, he requested Renuka to leave the room before his courage left him.
The Ad Production
The vibrant green settings of Goa were the backdrop for the ad film. The boy was played by eight-year-old Jayaram and the dog who scampered behind him was Cheeka. Cheeka was really the third choice after the first (a fox terrier) and second choices (another pug) refused to budge.
Prakash Verma of Nirvana Films produced the TV commercial. The agency had stressed that a dog lover should be in charge of production. Sneha Iype and Mahesh wrote the simple and memorable lyrics, “You and I, in this beautiful world”. Roopak set the score and Suraj Jagran sang the song.
Piyush Pandey stood up after seeing the completed film, congratulating the creators on work well done.
The Outcome
The ad film was well received and a print version of the campaign soon followed. Cheeka gained recognition as the “Hutch dog”, and as the wallpaper most often downloaded by Hutch customers on their phone screens.
In fact, there was a rise in the popularity of pugs in India with many more people taking pugs home. Cheeka remained in the brand advertising for some time even after Vodafone acquired Hutch.
This ad campaign remains memorable for its ingenuity. The film showed no technology nor did it directly talk about the network, yet effectively communicated the message of the reach of Hutch’s mobile network.
It communicated a utilitarian promise (of network connectivity wherever you go), yet managed to build an emotional connection with the customers. The youthful playfulness of the boy with the diligent and affable dog scampering behind him struck a chord with the audience. The ad film was much like a snapshot of a day in the life of the boy and his faithful companion, the dog. It was storytelling par excellence.
The author Subodh Tagare is an Associate Professor at IMT Nagpur, where he teaches courses on marketing. S Vejay Anand consults with organisations on business strategy and marketing. Views expressed are personal.
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