Micromax bets big with action star Hugh Jackman

The Canvas Sliver 5 is being billed as the world’s slimmest and lightest 4G smartphone. But just in case the 5.1 mm width doesn’t convince you, cellphone major Micromax wants you to hear it from a more persuasive source: A-list Hollywood actor Hugh Jackman. For the launch on Friday, Micromax let loose an advertising and media blitz that had the star of the X-men and Real Steel films in an action-packed TVC created by Lowe Lintas & Partners.

“As a marketing team, we wanted to focus on the differentiating quality, which is how slim this phone is. We wanted to create a larger-than-life advertising campaign,” said Shubhajit Sen, Chief Marketing Officer, Micromax, adding that while the campaign has helped make the product a talking point, advertising alone does not work, and is only part of a larger, communications tool. Micromax was also associated with Wimbledon for this marketing campaign, as the company believes it was the biggest sporting event happening at the time of the launch. Sen says the company has repeatedly tried it the other way around — but with much less success. It has invested heavily in cricket, but the campaigns were not planned depending on when a tournament takes place. Instead, “it makes more sense to figure out what the biggest sporting events at the time of a launch are, rather than planning your launch around the event,” he said.

This is the second time Micromax has brought in Jackman to endorse a product, and both sides appear happy with the deal. Jackman was last seen in the company’s campaign for the Canvas Turbo. Sen, who has only recently joined the company said: “Jackman’s association with Micromax has been fantastic so far. The impact of this association on [the company] has been tremendous and it took Micromax as a brand to a very different level, in terms of being seen as a global rather than just an Indian brand, and in making it premium, upmarket and aspirational.” Sen added that while many Indian actors are featured in multiple brands, Micromax wanted a celebrity who could be identified exclusively with the company. Which is why they picked an international actor to endorse the products.

While the impact of the overall brand equity on Micromax and the sales, are key factors to measure the success of the campaign, Sen points out, that it is too early to estimate this, in case of the Canvas Sliver 5 marketing campaign. A huge buzz has been created, he said, right from the day of the press conference in June this year. “The campaign has led to a spike in our Google search patterns, and consumer interest has been phenomenal. The number of times the TVC has been seen on YouTube is tremendous, and it has had an overall halo effect on brand Micromax,” Sen said, indicating that 40 per cent spends are on television, 20-25 per cent is on digital and the rest on print and outdoor.
Until recently, the portfolio in the premium segment for Micromax was not very strong, Sen admits. But in the last few months, the company has launched two or three new models in the mid-premium segment, which are doing well. “As we increase the number of premium products and enhance our distribution as well, you’ll see a dramatic rise in our market share in that segment,” he said, adding that more innovative products are likely to be rolled out in the coming months as well.

Sen’s move to Micromax, in February 2015, comes after having spent over two decades at GlaxoSmithKline. Both industries have a lot to learn from each other, he says, of the transition from the healthcare sector to a consumer electronics company. “In my previous job, [the industry used] technology that changes less frequently, there is less disruption that occurs and consumers are attuned to the products, whereas in this industry, consumers can’t predict what they want because they don’t know what technology is coming. And now, with the whole ecommerce thing, it’s changing rapidly. In healthcare, you take a few months break between campaigns. Here, I have to put new things out on digital media every day,” Sen said.