On first look, these "zoozoos" in Vodafone TV ads may resemble animated cartoon characters with an alien look or simply a stupid egg-head character with disproportional white bodies and black dots for eyes and mouth.
These Zoozoo characters, in case you haven’t seen them yet, have been created by O&M for Vodafone to convey different value added services offered by the mobile phone company including phone Backup, cricket alerts, etc.
This was something which was created purely out of textbook and is totally an Indian idea. The characters are such that they lead simple lives, speak insane and incomprehensible language and move in a certain way with human emotions.
But the interesting part is that Zoozoos are not animated characters but are actually slim women actors from local Mumbai theatres, dressed in white costumes that are stuffed with foam to portray the characters.
Prakash Varma, who directed the Vodafone ZooZoo commercials, told Afaqs that they only had women – and occasionally children – as their main cast to keep the hands and legs thin of the Zoozoo characters.
Such is the craze with Zoozoo that Vodafone ads are among the most watched videos on YouTube and there are over 50,000 Zoozoo fans on Facebook.
Vodafone has an IPL microsite for quizzes and contests where one can know the kind of Zoozoo he or she is as each Zoozoo character has a unique set of characteristics and traits allotted to it. Fans may also download wallpapers and screensavers from the Zoozoo microsite.
It seems that the new Vodafone campaign, which is immensely popular during IPL ad-breaks, would make way for the departure of good old pug ‘Chitika’ (made by Hutch before the company was taken over by Vodafone).
few outside the marketing and advertising fraternity would know that these clutter-breaking yet utterly simplistic characters created for Vodafone commercials are products of Nirvana Films, a Bangalore-based company that has created a niche out of ad film production. Founded by Prakash Varma, 36, and Sneha Iype, 34, Nirvana has been known for its unique brand of ad film making that has helped leading companies like HUL, Airtel and Bajaj Auto connect with consumers. In early 2002 they bagged an ad film from Ambience for its client Lakme Lever featuring brand ambassador Yana Gupta. “The client was very happy and even today the commercial runs in parts from time to time,” she says. But the truly big moment for the firm came in 2003 when it bagged the Hutch ‘pug’ campaign announcing the launch of the brand in India. As discussions got underway, Varma suggested that they use a pug instead of the regular Golden Retriever that advertisers tended to feature. “Initially everyone thought it was an ugly dog, and in no way cute,” says Iype. The commercial with a small boy and the pug worked wonders for Nirvana’s reputation in advertising circles. The campaign won many awards and made the pug famous too. Prakash Varma, and Sneha Iype mhave no intentions of moving to
Mumbai. Not being in Indian advertising’s Mecca worked well for them, says Iype. “It helps to be away. Mumbai is too crowded; you bump into the same people all the time.” Last year, however, the firm opened its first office outside Bangalore, in Mumbai’s Andheri suburb. With Rs 22 crore in annual turnover last year, the couple is hopeful of doing 50% higher business despite tighter client budgets. “We took a call to only do films we enjoyed doing. By being selective we had more hits than misses.” Nirvana’s refreshing approach to ad film making stems from its founder-cum-director Varma’s ability to deconstruct and simplify ideas. “He is a good story teller and makes things simple,” says Iype. The Zoozoo commercials (for Vodafone’s Value Added Services) were the result of the need to break away from the six-year long pug campaign, plus some wild thinking. The commercials have been shot with humans wearing costumes at 20 frames per second to give their movements an animated feel. The 10-day shoot in Cape Town, South Africa with a local production company Platypus, was demanding. “We had to shoot three commercials each day, then production in the evening and adding sound effects during the night.” Defending his decision to not shoot in India, Varma says, “I didn’t want the commercial to be talked about while we were shooting.”
NRI readers of this Newsletter who might not have seen these interesting ads can see some of them by clicking on the following links.
A brief look at the making of zoozoo is at the following link.
Report on the making of zoozoo Ads
Another interesting ad telecast during IPL matches is the one by Max New York Life. This is an old one but I am never bored of seeing this. You can also see this nice ad by clicking on