A walk through Rajiv Rao's ZooZoo legacy

Social Samosa
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As Rajiv Rao bids adieu to the advertising world, Social Samosa takes a look at the legend called ZooZoos that he carved in the Indian advertising history.

Rajiv Rao, the man who created the popular Vodafone mascot, ZooZoos. recently decided to move on from Ogilvy India to pursue a career in film making.

In a heartfelt letter bidding adieu to Rao, Piyush Pandey, Executive Chairman and Creative Director, Ogilvy South Asia, he mentions, “Whenever the Orange/Hutch/Vodafone history is written, Rajiv Rao’s name will feature in golden letters. Every piece of work on these brands has Rajiv’s personal stamp on it.”

From ZooZoos to the Hutch puppy, Rao has created history time and again and we’re about to take a walk down the memory lane, reliving the phenomenon named ZooZoo that swept over India.

ZooZoos have a huge fan following on social media and the official Facebook page for the character till date has over 18 million likes.

When these characters were first launched, a separate micro-site was created for the audience to engage and interact with. There were quizzes, contests and goodies in the form of wallpaper, screensavers and ringtones for the ZooZoo lovers.

The Making of ZooZoos

ZooZoos were first launched in 2009 during the second season of Indian Premiere League (IPL) to promote the various value-added services of the telecom operator.

Rao once shared with Business Standard that they came up with the name ZooZoo because they wanted something that sounded “cute, lovable and a bit mad like characters”.

ZooZoos are not animated characters, but humans wearing body suits. The ZooZoo outfit is divided in two parts - the body and the head. The body part of the outfit is filled with foam, while the head is attached separately. Simple backdrops are usually created, so that the focus of the audience remains on the characters.

They were given certain characters, like, they are to lead simple lives, speak a language of their own, move in a certain way and emote like humans do.

These white scrawny creatures with giant heads soon became a rage; from official and unofficial merchandise to social fan clubs, the characters were everywhere. According to Wikipedia, there are more than 200 pages on ZooZoos having over 250000 fans, growing daily. The ads were also viewed by thousands of people on YouTube.

ZooZoos soon however, witnessed a fatigue. Anti ZooZoo groups started cropping up on social media. Brand ZooZoo became larger than life, where people loved or hated ZooZoo, detaching it from Vodafone completely.

ZooZoo campaigns were usually launched coinciding with IPL, in 2012 Vodafone decided to take a break.

The Comeback

Vodafone made a comeback with ZooZoos in 2013 and this time there was an army of mini ZooZoos called Zumies. Not to forget that the Zumies had their anthem, Zumi Zumi.

In 2015, Vodafone used ZooZoos to launch their revamped property, ‘My Vodafone App’. During this phase, Siddharth Banerjee of Vodafone shared that the brand used ZooZoos whenever a new offering is in place.

The Social Chapter

On social media, Vodafone waged a creative war with ZooZoos at the forefront. Cute GIFs and cuter creatives, ZooZoos became an extension of everything communication that Vodafone ever created.

For instance, Vodafone’s successful #MakeMostOfNow featuring the Dhananjayans had a ZooZoo extension too. Vodafone created a series of GIFs, each, urging users to tag a friend who needs a break or makes plans but never gets leaves.

Despite the fluctuating popularity of ZooZoos, their Facebook has continued to remain active and engaging.

According to data by Unnmetric, as of now, Vodafone ZooZoos created an Average Engagement of 830, a very active page for a mascon that isn’t active throughout the year.

ZooZoos aren’t mere characters. Rajiv Rao managed to create a universe, wherein the brand and the characters both, had scope to thrive, introduce new services and create a brand recall.

Rao’s ZooZoos reflect highly on India’s advertising community. The silverscreen will deeply miss you!

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