Rebtel tackles American stereotypes of Indians in tongue-in-cheek campaign

International calling company Rebtel is hoping that its latest campaign will resonate with Indians living in the US who are tired of being stereotyped by Americans.

The campaign falls under Rebtel’s ‘Speak Freely’ tagline, which the company unveiled earlier this year when it launched its 'Calling' app that lets users make international calls without an internet connection at a low cost.

In the ads, Indians are shown “speaking freely” in the face of stereotypes. One spot shows a Sikh man who pretends to be shocked when he finds out he’s been “randomly selected” for an extra security screening at the airport.

“Oh wow, it’s my lucky day! Did you hear that?” he sarcastically says to the line forming behind him. “You know, I never win anything, but every time I’m about to fly, I always hit the jackpot.”

Another ad features a young Indian woman who explains to an older American woman that Western imperialism is the reason why she can speak English so well.

The campaign is running across TV, Facebook, YouTube, and out-of-home, with a strong focus on California since a large number of Indian-Americans live there, Rebtel’s marketing manager Varun Atrey said.

According to Atrey, Sweden-based Rebtel wanted to create a campaign that had a bit of a rebellious streak to it since the company considers itself to be a bit of a challenger brand in the international calling marketplace, competing with well-established rivals like Skype.

“It was very important to us to not do a campaign that pleases everyone,” he said.

David Olson, Rebtel’s creative director, said that the company wanted to put a political and social spin on the campaign since a number of prominent Indians, including actor Aziz Anzari, have spoken out against the ways that Indians are often portrayed in US media.

“We didn’t want to take the safe approach and have everyone applaud us for saying something easy,” said Olson. “Rebel is in our name but it’s also in the strategy of the company. We want to challenge the norm. The reason that our logo is upside down is because we want to turn the telecom industry upside down, and in our creative we want to reflect that.”

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