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Dunzo pushing boundaries is not new. It began as 3000+ Whatsapp chats on Kabeer Biswas’ phone in 2015. If this forms a kick-off para in a future dunzo story, the iconic ad that put a semi-colon on the 2022 IPL Final broadcast will be a chapter unto itself.

Dunzo’s ads are hard to miss. Most people love the quirk, while a few hate it. Dunzo is testing the boundaries of design of mediums, memories, moods in a way that very few brands in India have even attempted. 

When the IPL ad came in, it left a bunch of folks flummoxed and hit a 19 second spot with most others. 

A bunch of lazy armchair Twitter criticism ensued (a great national pastime) and pathetic comparisons to a Coinbase ad prompted Kabeer to come out of Twitter hibernation to send the below message. Classic dunzo, classy CEO.  

The reactions and the debate (captured well on this Brand Equity column) exposes everything about Indian startup intelligence. Do VCs and Twitterati even remotely know customers’ minds? Who cares whether it has a resemblance to Coinbase’s QR code? That’s the analysis. 

As I stepped onto an Indigo plane yesterday morning, the slogans on the stairwell were “Here comes the hotstepper” and “See you later Alligator”. These are pop culture references that not more than 5-10% of the plane’s passengers may ever understand but the messaging and positioning is clear – flying Indigo is hip. 

Since I was vaguely aware of the machinations behind this IPL finale campaign, I also know that this was one of many creatives that Dunzo contemplated over the past year. Even the old Doordarshan music and emerging DD logo were considered. People aged 35 or above will recall it.

The first cut was, by Indian standards, shocking. The use of “INCONVENIENCE IS REGRETTED” was epic posturing for a brand whose soul is “CONVENIENCE” – the QR code quivering and calling out, between the static of erstwhile terrestrial TV and the calling of the Matrix. Of course, it had to be “19” seconds long. If a dunzo user in this country doesn’t know that when a QR code presents itself on a large screen, and fires a phone camera at it, what does an Indian consumer know? Of course it’s intuitive, as many 1000s of customers showed Sunday night. 

Volumes were up 10x. It was a reminder to users, those who knew dunzo or used dunzo, that it was the coolest convenience service around. Singular brand obsessions go a long way in the consumer’s head. 

The GECs were roped into the plan to simulcast the ad on their channels too. Deep skepticism aside (most thought consumers would think the transmission of the respective leading GEC channel went kaput – a worrisome thought for them), most GEC channels are worried about their lowest common denominator of audience too. Frantic messages were sent to the top honchos when they pulled out of the plan Saturday. Twelve hours later, most of them reinstated the ad. They saw in it the simplicity, brilliance, and the coming of age of the TV ad in India. A small homage to the QR code, more than a specific Superbowl ad spot, but also a giant tribute to the Indian consumer’s savviness on small and large screens alike. 

Of course, two edited versions of the creatives had to be offered. The first added a line “CONVENIENCE IS NOT (Regretted)”, a subtle self-pat on the back to the dunzo mission. 

The second added a line “SCAN FOR CONVENIENCE” simplifying it further.  

Dunzo wanted a “stop press” moment, one that leverages a boring video ad format like TV dramatically better. Just as it’s pushing a newspaper to think of itself as a micro guide to local streets and local lingo, to think of a front page as a ludo or snakes and ladder board. 

When one looks back at IPL advertising history, the dunzo ad will be a giant step for creative minds. 

Can’t wait to see what comes our way next Mr Biswas and team! Just dunzo it! No pressure! 😉

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