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[Tech Ad-ons] OnePlus 7T: RDJ Plus Dance… and not much else

Just a minute of RDJ dancing...

by: - Last updated on: October 26th, 2019

From not releasing mainstream ads for quite a while to signing high profile celebrities to endorse its products, OnePlus has come a long way. The brand earlier tied up with veteran Bollywood actor Amitabh Bachchan to promote its products and now has a more global celebrity representing them– Robert Downey Jr. The company has launched a few ads (TVC and print), featuring Robert Downey Jr, but with rather mixed results so far. And now there is a new ad featuring the Hollywood actor and the new OnePlus 7T. The earlier ad had ended up being more about RDJ than the phone he was endorsing. Does this new ad dodge that bullet?

Time to dance

The one-minute ad, “90 Hz Smooth Moves” starts with Robert Downey Jr. shooting for a film when a crew member comes in to tell him that they are taking a five-minute break – the scene is entirely in black and white. RDJ steps out of the set and suddenly the world is full of color. He then plugs his OnePlus Bullets Wireless in his OnePlus 7T, selects a track called “90Hz smooth. Hits when you just feel like dancing” checks to see if anyone is watching and starts dancing in an empty lot. And while he is in a world of his own, dancing away like no one is watching (Rumi would approve), he actually catches a group of tourists not just watching him dance but also recording him on their OnePlus smartphones.

RDJ then unplugs his earphones, connects the phone to a loudspeaker and before you know it, a dance party breaks out and all those who were merely spectators earlier, join RDJ and start dancing along with him.

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This little dance session gets interrupted when the same crew member comes out looking for RDJ, to tell him that he is needed back on the set. RDJ asks for five more minutes and asks her to join in the fun. Slightly hesitant at first, she also joins the club and starts dancing with the rest of them. A visual of OnePlus 7T then comes on the screen followed by the brand’s tagline, “Never Settle”. The ad ends with “Amazon Specials” written on screen and the OnePlus logo.

Hello RDJ, OnePlus who?

Imagine having a great product to advertise. A product that is essentially one of the most popular products in its segment. Bundle this with an extremely high profile Hollywood actor? Sounds like a great ad in making? Well, unfortunately, that has not happened with the OnePlus and Robert Downey Jr. The Iron Man star has been associated with the brand for a while now, and while the world had great expectations from this pair, the union has not turned out remotely as well as we hoped it would.

Remember the last TVC from OnePlus featuring Rober Downey Jr? The one where he was performing some sort of martial arts while telling people not to settle? Well this one is not as ineffective as that, as it has given some screen time to the smartphone that it aims to sell as well as another OnePlus accessory, but to call it a OnePlus ad instead of a RDJ ad might not settle (pun intended) well with most people.

Yes, it is an ad by OnePlus and it has hired RDJ to advertise the OnePlus phones but most of the ad was about RDJ’s dancing skills than anything else. The phone makes a guest appearance in the ad every now and then like an NRI cousin who only visits the country on special occasions. There is a pretty visible line which brands often cross when it comes to celebrity endorsements. History has been witness to the fact that celebrities alone cannot sell products. You need to keep your product in the spotlight and the celebrity needs to play a supporting role to highlight the features of the product.

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This equation gets very complicated when you get on board a star as popular as Robert Downey Jr. When you have that big a star sharing the screen with your product, it becomes even more important for you to keep your product above the celebrity. After all you need to sell the smartphone and not add to the fanbase of RDJ. We think OnePlus has failed to do this not just once but twice now. First with their martial arts ad and now with this one.

RDJ has smooth moves, but what about the Never Settler?

The ad hardly says hello to the product. It does not give any information about it, does not highlight any specific feature or talk about why it is special. The OnePlus 7T phone in the ad does not seem any more important than the crew member that we think appeared on the screen just as much as the phone did, if not more. In fact, we think the Bullets Wireless are more visible and have a stronger connect with the ad – there is music playing and people are dancing to it!

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Remove the OnePlus branding from the ad and we do not think people would be able to guess that it is a smartphone ad, let alone a OnePlus ad. Yes, it is fun and great for RDJ fans but it literally fails to tell you anything about the product. Yes, there is zooming in on the OnePlus 7T camera for a split second in the ad and design gets a little attention, but it is a one-minute ad and these seconds tend to get lost in it.

The ad is titled “90 HZ smooth” which is also the song that RDJ picks out on the phone but the irony is that the ad does not seem to highlight the smoothness of the display or its ability that well. The ad also switched from a monochrome setting to a colored one, but we did not get the significance of that because it was not as if the color comes into RDJ’s life as he plugs in his earphones or starts using the smartphone. The scene shifts to color the moment he steps out of the studio, which really did not have anything to do with the phone.

Not really a OnePlus 7T ad

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OnePlus might be the most popular premium smartphone brand in the country at the moment but we do not think these ads have got anything to do with its success. The ad is supposed to be about OnePlus 7T but they might as well call it an ad for “dance classes by Robert Downey Jr., featuring OnePlus” and it would make more sense. The ad is entertaining but we think it fails to give enough attention to the smartphone, let alone highlight it. OnePlus seems to have surely settled for less attention for its own product in ads featuring RDJ. We hope it remembers to Never Settle in this regard! Robert Downey Jr is a great star. But this is an ad, and OnePlus 7T deserves to be a hero. Even if it is next to Iron Man!

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