Parcel: Did HarperCollins take a risk with an 8-minute ad film?

HarperCollins India Parcel

HarperCollins India put forth an 8-minute long digital film, Parcel, to promote its crime genre offerings, Social Samosa explores if it were gripping enough.

HarperCollins is a publishing house with an eclectic mix of fiction among its offerings. Crime is one of the most-watched as well as the most-read genre, making it a fine choice for the brand to target when making a digital ad film.

“Parcel is a film that puts a spotlight on the power of the mind of a reader, how it escapes and creates its own visuals, ideas, and conclusions,” says Titus Upputuru, National Creative Director, Taproot Dentsu.

The idea was to draw attention to the power of a book by saluting the mind of its reader. The real power lies not with the author but with the reader. Parcel by HarperCollins features actors Riyaa Arora, Hurmat Ali Khan, and Vyom Yadav. In the film, two friends discuss the possibilities of what happened to the girl who died in the evening after she received a parcel.

Giving a glimpse into the worlds of the characters, Upputuru tells us, “Ved symbolizes a voracious reader whose mind is racing to solve a murder mystery. Ali symbolizes an author who teases the mind of the reader constantly through this journey. Zareena plays a character within this journey.”

When asked whether putting forth a long film is a risk for a brand, he says, “Marketers are rightfully worried that they may lose the audience with every passing second. Some of them want to put the logo right on top of the frame so that at least consumers register the brand if not anything else. Some feel that people may like the content but they may not remember the brand. That’s where one starts becoming insecure. However, I am beginning to believe that consumers never think about the length of a video.”

“The question we must ask ourselves is — is the content we put up out there, is that engaging enough? The logo can come right at the end, but if the content is interesting and compelling, the consumers will remember the brand,” he further explains.

On a personal note, he adds that any duration is good for him, as long as it is interesting.

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Does the risk pay off?

“It’s true that brands are increasingly opting for shorter videos even on digital. However, I personally think that duration does not matter. If it is interesting and keeps me engaged, why would I mind watching it?” says Rakesh Menon, ECD, FCB Interface.

He adds, “Having said that, I think the brand in question has not made the most of this particular opportunity. The film started intriguingly enough to keep me hooked. But it was a real let-down towards the end. Simplicity is the key. The creators tried to be too clever here and got tangled in their own tale!”

Sumanto Chattopadhyay

“When we make up rules about what works in advertising — such as recommended durations — we are talking about what works for the average advertisement or piece of content. I usually switch off after the first 20-30 seconds, or even earlier, if I am watching a video that doesn’t seem to be going anywhere. However, in the case of Parcel, I was engaged until the end. It is one of those films that remind you that at the end of the day, advertising is an art. If you get the artistry right, you can make up your own rules and succeed. I think this was the right kind of creative for a brand like HarperCollins,” says Sumanto Chattopadhyay, Chairman & Chief Creative Officer, 82.5 Communications.

Ashish Makani

“HarperCollins has created an interesting campaign and portrayed a different take on promotional films with Parcel. The current trend is to do extremely short videos and quick bytes to engage the digital-savvy new-age audiences with a short attention span. Parcel is an 8-minute long video which makes it imperative for the content to be engaging enough for a viewer to stay hooked until the end. The video does a good job of keeping the audience hooked. The end too is worth the wait, leaving them with a good aftertaste. What I liked most about the campaign is how they portrayed the power of story-telling and in-turn resonating with the brand’s business i.e. books seamlessly, says Ashish Makani, Co-Founder and Managing Director, Makani Creatives.


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