Is Magicbricks scared of Tamil Nadu?

[ A lot more context on this theme: Why should Hindi written in English be the pan-India norm in advertising? ]

Magicbricks’ new national campaign (featuring Ayushmann Khurrana and Kriti Sanon) was launched with a multi-city print advertisement on August 26, 2019.

Here’s the 2nd phase (follow-up), today. This is from The Times of India, Hyderabad, Kolkata and Kochi (incidentally Kochi did not have the earlier 2 front-page ad).

And this is the follow-up in Chennai edition of The Times of India.

A couple of observations:

1. It almost looks like Magicbricks is scared of Chennai, to release an all-Tamil (in Tamil script) ad in Chennai alone. This is an interesting U-turn after thrusting a Hindi front page on them on 26th. Now, nobody is accusing Magicbricks of imposing Hindi in TN – at least, I’m not. Magicbricks is not the Government, it is just a brand. Brands cannot impose anything. Customers are free to ignore brands depending on their needs.

2. TOI is an English newspaper. If the earlier campaign had Hindi-in-Roman-script, logically this should have Tamil-in-Roman-script. But they went full bazooka in Tamil script. Interesting, but probably went overboard. Most metro-city dwellers have conditioned themselves to think in English and Tamil, habitually. But they still speak their local language. So, even as they lose touch with the local language script gradually, they keep the link alive by speaking it. In this unique situation, Roman script for local languages is a decent compromise as a way languages evolve. Local language is emotional, English (and Hindi, outside Hindi-speaking states) is functional/transactional. So, using a small smattering of local language captions in Roman script is perfectly fine.

This is not rocket science. Local real estate companies have been doing this very successfully for years. Take Chennai, for instance. Here are 3 ads from recent times.

Colloquial headline using Tanglish, in Roman script, to attract attention. This is how most people speak in Chennai, as also how people speak in local TV channels in TN.

3. Lastly, why only Chennai? Why not a full-Telugu, full-Bangla or full-Malayalam ad in those city editions? As I mentioned earlier, it looks like Magicbricks seems scared of Chennai, almost as if making up for that earlier faux pas on 26th.

To be sure, that wasn’t a faux pas. That was what the brand and agency thought is good enough for the region. It’s not a crime; it just feels silly. Nobody is going to have a major problem with the brand because of that ad. Magicbricks is simply a brand. And we are consumers. If one of our needs is being fulfilled well by Magicbricks, we’re going to go to it. It’s as simple as that – there’s no need for any more emotional connection with the brand. So, if they had a Hindi ad earlier, people would see it and move on. The point is about consumer connect. And ‘connect’ happens not because of transactional information (as Magicbricks says in yesterday’s Brand Equity), but about emotional appeal. And that happens when you speak like your target audience.

David Ogilvy said this many years ago.

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