The channel is Star World.
The background is white.
A metrosexual type man, a foreign looking woman.
She has a blood red mirchi in her mouth.
He is licking drops of water off her back.
Instinctively, I finger-flick to another channel. It could be an ad for some fancy perfume. On the other hand, it could be a condom.
My five year old daughter Nivedita is sitting right next to me and if it's the latter I really don't want to deal with her never-ending questions.
Sex education is essential but but I don't want a child prodigy in that particular area.
A few seconds later I flick back and to my shock, it's an ad for LIRIL soap. Um, what exactly were they thinking???
So, the girl and the waterfall became repetitive and boring. The success of the brand became a millstone around its neck.
They tried girls dancing in deserts, on glaciers and even an orange variant. It must not have worked, so they decided to do something drastic.
"The new Liril Soft Aloe Vera and Lemon campaign will focus on naughty intimacies among married couples instead of the erstwhile iconic `waterfall' campaigns, " notes Hindu Businessline.
Why this won't work
A brand - like a city - is built on a certain heritage.
Yes, it can be tweaked to a certain extent but if you want to simply throw it ALL away, why not just launch a new brand. Why use the name Liril at all?
a) The ad look/ feel/ jingle is not Liril. There is some la la la going on in the background (I think) but not evocative of the original tune at all.
b) Selling point is no longer freshness but lemon + aloe vera ie freshness plus soft, supple skin.
As a soap, it may be quite nice actually (the packaging and shape look interesting) but it's not LIRIL.
Secondly, the 'married' couple bit does not come across. Which married couple in India looks/ behaves like THAT?
Thirdly, what is this obsession with fair skinned/ light eyed models? How is the Indian consumer supposedto identify with the situation??
Lastly, the red mirchi makes absolutely no sense. Is the soap fresh, or hot?
For all these reasons, I think the ad will bomb. Reminds me of the classic 'new Coke' fiasco which actually led to the old Coke being brought back with a vengeance! Bet the old girl under the waterfall will make a similar comeback in 6 months time...
I must however commend Hindustan Lever for taking the risk of doing something different. This particular attempt may fail but some of their other advertising experiments are worth noting.
The 'do bucket paani hai bachaana' campaign for Surf and the Lifebuoy ad where kids clean up their neighbourhood are both very bold departures from conventional soap/ detergent advertising. They're in fact what you might call 'socially relevant'.
These ads are being noticed - and achieving a positive impact. An impact which should, eventually, get reflected in sales figures. But probably won't - in the short run.
Which means things will soon be back to 'safedi ki jhankaar' type advertising.
Sometimes I wonder what would happen if soap/ detergent advertising was banned from television for a year. Would we stop buying and become filthy/ unhygienic cretins?