Classmate range of notebooks was the first to be launched in 2003
A man's signature is perhaps one of the most impressive portrayals of his identity. We have all toiled hard, as a child, to get that signature worthy of the person we aspire to be. Keeping this proposition in mind, ITC has launched a campaign for its Classmate range of pens.
Writing instruments for ITC is a relatively new segment. Its Classmate range of notebooks was the first to be launched in 2003. Pens and other writing instruments were included around three years earlier. The current campaign is its first mainstream ad to get heard in a Rs 2,600-2,800 crore market of writing instruments that include pens and pencils.
The TV commercial opens with a young, school-going girl scribbling in her notebook. What she is writing is hidden from view, as she stops anyone from looking into her diary. She finally finds inspiration in a fair when she sees ribbons flying in the air. The pages of the diary are then revealed to have her signature, which she had been trying to perfect over time. The background score emphasises on the uniqueness of her dastakhat or signature.
"Classmate as a brand recognises that an individual is born unique. Therefore, we must recognise, nurture and celebrate this uniqueness. We came up with a similar campaign last year and have decided to extend it this year but with specific focus on the pens this time," says Karan Kumar, marketing manager, education and stationery business.
ITC will bank on cross-promotions with its notebooks, as range enjoys a 18-20 per cent market share of the Rs 3,000-3,500-crore market. But in writing instruments, it has has only two per cent owing to its late entry. At the moment, its focus is on brand creation and communication. This reflects on its budget allocation too. Of the Rs 35-50 crore advertising budget, a lion's chunk is being spent on consumer connect.
According to Kumar, the age when children first start using pens is significant for them. The permission to use pens in schools, as against the pencils they had used so far, is a sort of a rite-of-passage for the child, a sign of empowerment. Which is why they try to imitate the first grown-up habit they can imagine - carve out a unique signature for themselves.
"The inspiration came from real-life experiences. I have seen my 10-year-old daughter trying to carve out a signature for herself and practising it day-in and day-out. We wanted to keep it as real and honest as possible, so we went to Darjeeling and chose a young girl from the schools there. With the location, the beautiful child and the lyrics by Gulzar, we were able to capture the essence of finding oneself through the signature," said Sam Ahmed, chief creative officer and vice-chairman, Rediffusion.
The commercial was launched in Hindi and Tamil on July 2. While the lyrics for the Hindi version have been penned by Padma Bhushan Gulzar, the Tamil TV commercial has lyrics by six-times National Award-winner Vairamuthu. The Hindi edit lasts for 60 seconds, and the two Tamil ones for 40 seconds and 30 seconds.
ITC plans to extend the campaign to different media. It will be using the social medium extensively to increase the outreach, according to Kumar. There will also be school contact engagement programmes and on-ground contact. It also plans to release these creatives on the back-covers of its notebook range, by way of cross-promotion.
An expanding portfolio has helped the brand grow over the years, claims Kumar. The company launched its art material range, Classmate Color Crew, in 2012. It is planning more launches, including new models of writing instruments, variants of geometry boxes, sub-categories in the art stationery range and a premium range of notebooks.