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OYO’s Valentine’s Day campaign with Neena Gupta and Swanand Kirkire stands out in the clutter of mushy, young love
Featuring a brilliant cast comprising Neena Gupta and Swanand Kirkire, the campaign celebrates the spark that keeps long-term relationships alive
Here is a Valentine's Day campaign that stood out this year
brands

OYO’s Valentine’s Day campaign with Neena Gupta and Swanand Kirkire stands out in the clutter of mushy, young love

Here is a Valentine's Day campaign that stood out this year
  • Often Valentine’s Day is associated with the young, and love is marketed and celebrated as a young person’s thing.
  • We have developed an ageist perspective towards love, believing that one loses the ability to express and celebrate love as one grows older.
  • Breaking these stereotypes, OYO’s Valentine’s Day campaign stood out in the clutter of puppy love this year.
  • We caught up with Mayur Hola, Head of Global Brand - OYO Hotels & Homes to understand what encouraged the brand to feature a mid-age couple, the process of its casting, and discussed why Indian brands have been neglecting people in their mid-age while celebrating love.
Imagine a cafe and a young couple on a date. You see a bunch of roses in the background, chocolate heart-shaped boxes on the table and the guy proposes. You don’t need to try too hard because that’s basically the template Indian advertisements have been following for their Valentine’s Day ads for years. We are seeing more representation of LGBTQ couples, intercaste marriages, live-in couples, young women taking charge but rarely do we see women in their late 40s or older, falling in love all over again or sharing a romantic moment with their partner in public.

Often Valentine’s Day is associated with young people, and the idea of love is marketed and celebrated as something that’s mushy, young and sweet. We don’t often get to see mid-age couples on dates or in any romantic settings.

Even in mainstream cinema and pop-culture, it is only now that we have movies like Once Again and Badhaai Ho with mid-age actors as their protagonist and ads like Colgate's Remarriage. These movies and ads have nudged us to reconsider our attitude towards love. However, an old couple still in love or mid-age people falling in love is still treated as a different conversation - just as talking about LGBTQ+ is only remembered during pride month, it doesn't fit into the larger umbrella of love yet. With this, we have developed an ageist and limited perspective towards love, believing that one loses the ability to express and celebrate love as one grows older.

So, we were pleasantly surprised when we saw a young hospitality brand, OYO, take a different route this Valentine’s. Its Valentine’s Day campaign is about a mid-age couple who is loyal to OYO and has a rather mature idea of love. Featuring a brilliant cast comprising Neena Gupta and Swanand Kirkire, the campaign celebrates the spark that keeps long-term relationships alive.

Titled ‘Long-term relationship with OYO,’ it is a 4-film digital campaign. In the first film, the protagonists engage in playful bickering. Kirkire asks Gupta why she sticks to choosing the same hotel and room every time they travel. Gupta replies with another question ‘I am not bored, are you?’ subtly hinting at their long-lasting relationship. It is those adorable glances at the end between Gupta and Kirkire that stole our hearts and the sound of a playful tune of ‘Yeh Rishta Hai Thoda Khiska’ acts as a cherry on top.


The campaign is supported with social media posts and emailers. Each post brings in a pragmatic perspective and reminds the audience that love is not all mush, it is a little complicated. For example, OYO dropped a truth bomb on Teddy Bear Day saying that women don’t play with teddy bears anymore. The copy read, “Dear adarsh balak, sasta ho ya mehenga, she stopped playing with teddy bears when she was 10. This is un-bear-able. Love, Neena.”


Another realistic comment was on Chocolate Day, advising people to avoid cliches and not give heart-shaped Chocolate boxes to your loved ones because it is less chocolates, more air and lacks utility purpose.


On a day when brands neglect mid-age people, OYO has broken many stereotypes but it did not intend to make a statement by onboarding a mid-age protagonist, it all happened organically. Moreover, Gupta and Kirkire were the brand's first choice.

Mayur Hola, Head of Global Brand - OYO Hotels & Homes said, “The best movies, the ones that leave a lasting impression on you, come from stories and faces that are lined with age and character. That's really where great cinema emerges from. Advertising sometimes tends to feature bright shiny objects. I'm not just talking about human beings, even food. So the food you see in ads, you don't necessarily see in real life. We have sculpted bodies, perfect faces, etc. OYO might feature young faces from time to time as well, but we just felt these stories were better told by a couple who are ageless. Time has no relevance to the stories we are telling. It could be anyone, anywhere. We know that we are talking to such a varied audience as ours. We know that the lead protagonist needs to have a certain amount of chutzpah as well as stature. So yeah, we decided let's go get an actor not lower in age because sure, puppy love is awesome but I think we have a winner here in Neena.”

While we still continue to fight with a global pandemic, OYO aims to remind you with this campaign that some familiarity is comforting and gain its consumers' trust.

After conducting a consumer research and chatting with a few of them one-on-one, OYO found that that in eight out of 10 cases, women drive the conversation and take the final decision around travel. It also highlighted consumers who visit OYO once, they tend to go back to the same hotel. And this insight fueled the idea and gave birth to #YeRishtaHaiKhiska. The first ad currently boasts 2,322,307 views.

Telling how the brand stumbled upon this idea of celebrating long-lasting relationships, Hola said, “The starting point of any campaign for us is inclusivity. We’re a mass brand that is adopted by so many diverse sets of people; SMEs / corporate travellers, leisure travellers, couples, among others. This is an inclusive campaign that speaks to all, rather than an old vs young one. Secondly, over time our core customers see a very high repeat rate. To the same location and the same property. Our guests are literally in a long term relationship with OYO. Additionally when we spoke 1:1, woman to woman with a lot of our women guests we came across the fact that women were the key decision-makers when it came to booking a getaway, holiday, or vacation. So join the dots and the campaign comes together. Inclusion, relationships, consideration amongst women in particular.”

Both, the concept of the campaign and script of the films were written by OYO’s in-house global brand team, with support from Oink Films on production.

Hola said the brand aims to woo female audiences with its Valentine’s campaign.

“We’re expecting greater consideration overall. And in general, likeability because this is just such a charming campaign. I think we don't necessarily need to feature your audience in your communication for them to like it. So in terms of interests and mindset, couples will relate with it, no matter what age group they are. I do think one of the intentions is to have greater likeability and affiliation with a female group. And I feel sure we’ll see that happen,” shared Hola.

OYO will roll out a unified view across 45+ OTTs and apps programmatically. This includes platforms such as Inshorts, Sharechat, OTT platforms (Hotstar, MX Player, Sony Liv, Voot), music streaming apps (Gaana, Spotify, JioSaavn,) and dating apps (Tinder, Bumble, OkCupid).

It will further amplify the films through an influencer campaign based on the theme #RishtaThodaKhiskaHai via a mix of celebrity and lifestyle influencers such as Smriti Khanna, Meeth Miri, Natasha Singh, and Siddhi MahaJankati, among others.

As a brand that caters to a large audience, OYO is also making a conscious effort to be more inclusive in their advertising and marketing campaigns.

On whether we will see more sections and communities of our societies in OYO’s campaign, Hola said, “Absolutely, We’re a brand that is adopted by the world’s middle class. And we will look to do work that appeals to a large mass.”