Nimish Dwivedi
Jun 14, 2018

Opinion: The social swag factor in the Swiggy campaign

The Swiggy commercial sends out a lot of subtle cues. The author explores if it could have done any better.

Opinion: The social swag factor in the Swiggy campaign
There is no doubt that one of the most memorable campaigns which aired during this IPL was for Swiggy. Conceptualised with relatable situations, shot with some great performances by all the characters -- like the boy's expression on the snack table or that satisfied look after gulping a gulab jamun, from the man who sneaked one in without anyone knowing, not to forget the revealing all the universe's secrets tone of the man who had polished off someone else's Bissibelle and called it, of all things, 'deadly"-- this campaign connected at many levels. 
But there were also some contrarian cues which merit a mention. As Customer Insight magazine mentions -"Tiny details (or cues) in the environment can have a significant sub-conscious effect on customers." In the book "How Customers Think", Gerald Zaltman elaborates that environmental cues trigger associations in customers and have a powerful impact on perceptions. It is also these cues that need to be managed in powerful campaigns.
Let me try to dissect the Swiggy campaign purely from that lens. 
Take the Swiggy children treat time ad. The one cue that sticks besides the ad itself is what the children are being served. Overlay this cue with the CNN report of 2017  which states "Childhood obesity is mainly a problem of modern India, teeming with American-style malls, fast food outlets and newfound luxuries like cars and air conditioning that have dramatically changed the lifestyles of families with money to spare."
The problem is so prevalent that there's even an Obesity Foundation of India -- which also blames the prevalence of television commercials promoting unhealthy foods and poor eating habits. It estimates children's consumption of sugary sodas has increased by 300% in the last two decades."
Now the key question -- do all these children in the ad need to be served deep fried ring shaped cakes of sweetened refined flour coated with sugar filled chocolate or strawberry flavored cream and topped with artificially colored sprinkles? Sure, we all need a sinful treat like doughnuts once in a while.
But what if the same ad had the app finding a natural jaggery based, gluten free treat which was then served to children instead of doughnuts? From an environmental cues perspective the impact on children and on adults viewing this multiple times and enjoying it would have perhaps been enhanced significantly.
Similarly, take the other gulab jamun ad where an old man sneaks out to take advantage of Swiggy's small order proposition and gulps down a perceived to be highly calorific and sweet gulab jamun. Again from an environmental cues perspective, if the man had sneaked out to down a homemade healthily prepared from jaggery puran poli instead to get his sugar fix, the environmental context of the ad would be very different given India's diabetes crisis of epidemic proportions. 
And finally while the proposition of no minimum order amount is fascinating and fantastic there is another environmental cue which this proposition brings to mind best captured in the expression of the Swiggy delivery man who watches the man sneak out and gulp down the gulab jamun. The delivery man looks a tad shocked and a tad surprised. And while the world of course looks good on film one can only visualise these hordes of delivery boys snaking their way through never ending traffic jams in our broken cities, braving potholes, dangerous drivers, all kinds of extreme weather conditions and what not to deliver these single doughnut and gulab jamun orders. The lack of road safety conditions combined with long working hours taking their toll on many of these hard working folks trying to eke out a living. Not to mention other vehicles on the road cursing them as they try to make their way quickly to manage these delivery schedules.
It would be great if the ad showed some empathy towards these brave folks thereby as an environmental cue -- passing on the subtle message to the millions ordering through the app to be kind and sympathetic towards these delivery men.
I am thinking of the middle aged man sneakily placing a small order. And instead of just one gulab jamun it is two healthy made from whole grain and filled with jaggery puran polis. As the delivery man hands both of these over, the man actually gives one to the delivery man and keeps one for himself. Instead of the delivery man staring awkwardly, both of them enjoy a treat together and smile. 
Maybe that is an extension the Swiggy team is already working on along with a full fledged initiative to improve the on-road safety and overall well being of delivery men who are actually powering the app's core proposition.
Now that is a layer of Serious Social Swag added to an otherwise outstanding campaign. 
(The author is a senior consumer marketing and financial services professional based in Vietnam, who has lived and worked in India, Japan, Hong Kong, Singapore and Dubai. His book "Marketing Chronicles" is available on Amazon India, Flipkart and at key online/ physical book stores.)


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