A month ago, Rashi Bajaj, 21, got a call from an agency to feature in an advertisement for a mobile phone service. "While we were shooting for the advertisement, we knew immediately that it would catch on. I think what works about ads like these is that they connect with people, and every student can relate to its lyrics," said the south Mumbai college student.
Bajaj's intuition was spot on. She was featured in the new 'Har ek friend zaroori hota hai' Airtel advertisement, which has since gone viral on the internet and across college campuses.
The catchy and clever jingle has feverishly occupied the minds and Facebook walls of college students across the country as it celebrates friendship in a realistic manner. It urges one to constantly be in touch with friends from different walks of life, cashing in on the social networking addiction.
"Most of these mobile ads are about social networking or instant messenger deals as it is a new idea to be in touch with friends all the time. Constantly talking to friends about everything makes people feel more secure," said Karunika Kardak, 19, a student of St. Xavier's College, Dhobi Talao. "Social networking is about telling everyone everything. The greater the number of people who like your status, the more you feel like a mini-celebrity, and the advertisers cash in on this feeling," added Kardak.
Similar advertisements emphasising the importance of phones in having an active social life and love life have flooded the market in recent times. However, according to students, a memorable tune does not always tempt them to actually buy the product the ad is selling.
Arushi Sethi, 17, has over 250 contacts on her Blackberry messenger and is happy with her mobile Internet plan, regardless of the slew of advertisements that are pushing for different deals. "Personally I think many of these ads are very catchy, but really do not bring out the package that they wanted to promote. People will remember the song and may even post it on their friends' walls, but I doubt that they will actually switch to the plan that that is being advertised," said the student of Jai Hind College.
While students claim that these advertisements may not affect their consumer behaviour, it is clear that every mobile company is appealing to the youth as an emerging, untapped market. "As the industries are moving towards profitability, they are starting to look into urban segments and the youth is easy to influence in terms of advertising. With the coming in of smart phones and applications oriented toward younger users, there is almost a herd effect of companies targeting them," said Santosh Desai, CEO of Futurebrands.