Tuesday, April 12, 2005

La la la la - no more

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???

Goodbye waterfall
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...

Phir bhi
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?


  1. Have to differ with you this time, I don't see anything cool (socially relevancy included) in both of the Ads.

    Ads these days are only about associating meaning to products, there is no way I can with the help of these Ad's ( or otherwise ) associate Surf with Water conservation and Lifebouy with a clean street.

  2. actually the ad made me wonder why is Shabana diluting (no pun intended!) her brand !!

  3. Anonymous5:00 PM

    Interesting, that somebody else has blogged on the new liril ad too.

  4. Anonymous5:41 PM

    oh yes, I was appalled when I first saw the Liril ad... I did think it was an ad for a condom - why so much sweat and steam for a soap? (sweat I can still understabd :)) that too a brand like Liril - where is the 'freshness' associated with the brand - created at a time when USP in Indian advertising was still a novelty - and so carefully cultivated over all these years? I am also surprised that Levers has passes sucha bold ad... is this a sign of desperation?

  5. And what about the New Kwality Walls- Pleasure up! ad. Sheeesh. C'mon man, Ice-cream as phallic symbol is like the oldest cliche in the world. Give us something new, will ya. 'The big F' was still better.

  6. One thing that bugged me was the Pond's ad, in which these guys coolly hijacked the incident in which a girl refused to marry a guy because his parents asked for dowry.
    Ditto with Fair and Lovely, where they unFairly hijacked Mandira Bedi's success(?) by potraying a girl who becomes a successful cricket commentator by using F&L.

  7. Hey MAnish.. your blog gave the liril ad the thumbs up???

    Anyway i think it was pretty cool and i think the ad is gonna do well.

  8. Hey MAnish.. your blog gave the liril ad the thumbs up???

    Anyway i think it was pretty cool and i think the ad is gonna do well.

  9. haven't bothered to go through the comments ,but here's my take--the thing is liril is going for a new image-nothing wrong with that-they are taking the risk-they have to..the sales for this particular product are not growing-they are at the best remaining stagnant-so hindustan lever basically has no choce but to turn the entire lalalala concept on it's head and go forward and do something els+
    i do believe taht the so-called socially relevant ads will work..why,just

  10. Yep, at first i too thought that it's an AD for a condom...but err... only later to realize that it was an ad campaign for a soap.

    Dudes, this ad's gonna hit the rock.. koi dum nahi.. thumbs down for this one!

  11. Anonymous6:16 PM

    "Which married couple in India looks/ behaves like THAT?"

    And what makes you think that indian couples dont like SEX ?

    btw, some cheap sex on tv never hurts. Whats so bad about this ad?

    After all,they arent showing anal sex or something like that ;)

  12. Anonymous5:05 PM

    strange to find a comment like the one on the married cpl on a youth curry blog :S i mean, ok, the ad aint all that great, but some ppl that age do behave that way in india.
    well..to each her own, agree with the condom ad-like look bit tho.

  13. Anonymous1:53 AM

    प्रासंगिक विज्ञापन

  14. Anonymous8:35 PM

    In case anyone cares, the original "La la la" tune is
    You can listen to a bit of this at http://www.moviegrooves.com/shop/popshopping1.htm

    Cheers, Mahesh

  15. Anonymous8:36 PM

    Looks as though the tune was orignally made for a German ad.



  16. The jingle in the bnackground sings.. LA..IRA..ILA...take out all the "A" nad u get LIRIL...the jingle is so nice...yet really youthfull...its nice ..it never depicts them as married couples...why to take them as married, when they could also be otherwise..and why should there be sex only between husband and wife??..I think we need to come out of this mentality.and why not!!. The Liril was never targeted at the typical "Indian" girl too..which Indian Girl used to come out in shorts for a bath... I think more than the reality, ads that capture the virtual(where men(or women) wants to see him/herself would be more successfull)..If Ads had to show reality, then can be no ads for anything..I too agree with the preception that Indian ads are still in the fair skinned, blue eyed females age..but then, as I told, when people are so obsessed with skin colour(think of the reception that Fair and Lovely used to get before the ad bombed)...ad fellows would obviously try to exploit it

  17. Anonymous12:14 PM

    "Secondly, the 'married' couple bit does not come across. Which married couple in India looks/ behaves like THAT?

    hey i am not married but i am sure i will do THAT everyday . ha ha ha ha :p

    now where will i find a girl who looks like THAT?

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