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Polo is back with a whistle

By , agencyfaqs! | In | December 20, 2004
Call it lateral brand extension or plain bizarre, Polo's new campaign is certainly trying to make a point


The minty hole is back with a tuneful vengeance. The hugely popular Polo's mint-with-a-hole campaign has just found a voice, or rather a melodious whistle after a decade of indifferent advertisements. & #BANNER1 & # If you popped in a Polo years ago for its enigmatic hole, now your incentive is getting to whistle through that same hole.

Call it lateral brand extension, or plain bizarre, Polo's campaign is certainly trying to make a point.

The ad opens on a shepherd boy with curly hair. The boy lazily strolls on the pastures, as his obedient milky-white woolly lambs forage for their breakfast in picturesque Gulmarg. On the same hill, a yoga instructor is addressing a bunch of corporate executives, in search of tranquility and fresh air. Our shepherd, who looks completely bored with his current job profile, pops in a Polo.

As the guru says, "Upar le jaiye” to his disciples, the boy lifts up the Polo with his tongue. Following the guru's instruction, he takes the Polo first to the right and then to the left of his mouth. Nodding at the guru's question, "Koyi tazgi mehsoos huyi?” (Did you feel any freshness?), he breathes out. When fresh air flows through the minty hole, a whistle comes out.

At the whistle, the sheep unexpectedly start running towards the group, ultimately displacing them. Our hero has the last word, "Polo khao, seeti bajao.” (Have a Polo, blow a whistle). (Comment on the Polo ad)

Lowe, the agency, and Nestle see a crystal-clear logic in the whistling Polo. The whistle, in fact, was born out of the need to bring back the famed 'hole' in the limelight. "When we discussed the strategy with the client, it was clear that the hole had to be brought back to the communication. After all, Polo has been always associated with that hole,” explains Ashwin Jacob Varkey, Lowe's creative head on the Polo account.

Nestle had its reasons for highlighting the hole. Between the first and current campaign, there have been quite a few but indistinct campaigns. The only one with a reasonable recall is "Beta Sweater Pehno” (Son, wear a sweater) campaign. However, the sad part is, while some people do remember the ad, the brand name seems to have got lost in the nasal overtones.

Therefore, when the agency was being briefed this time, the hole had to find its rightful place in the communication. Now the hole couldn't just appear in the message like a prop in a play. It had to have some intelligent functionality as well.

"The only differentiator to Polo is the hole, so we decided to give this cosmetic feature a benefit, a value addition. The whistle was born from this idea. In fact, if you try, you can actually whistle with the mint.”

Also, the whistle seems to be the right fit with the target group. "We whistle when we are happy, or generally in a cheerful mood. And, whistling is associated with youth,” Varkey explains.

While the youth comprise Polo's prospective customers, the rustic tune of the whistle suggests Nestle's keen interest in rural consumers as well.

The connection between Polo and the whistle is rather oblique, but for all its incidental eccentricity, the ad registers.

A section of agencyfaqs! readers tend to agree. "What more can we say about a mint? Here's a clutter breaker, which doesn't mean anything but makes you want to make some sense out of it. The objective of the ad is met,” Anoop writes. "This ad is good in humour and, also has a nice background music and location,” feels Nikhil Parekh.

And then, there are others who couldn't help but wonder what the ad was all about. Their reactions: "I think the ad looks good. Like the idea of minty polo on hill slopes, where it is already cool and fresh. But there are certain parts of the ad, which do not make much sense,” feels Shukrita. Anas Khan too cannot contain his confusion. "I can't understand the thinking behind the campaign. The only thing, I can assume it is trying to do, is give new reasons for the consumer to try the product. The ad, however, is fine visually and is kind of catchy.”

Some like it; some hate it; the reactions are extreme. But everybody agrees that the ad is catchy for two reasons: The whistle and the natural curls of the shepherd. So, as far as recall is concerned, the ad has done its job. The shepherd in the ad, by the way, is Imaad Shah, actor Nasserudin Shah's son.

Now, whether or not the ad spurs the Polo sales, one thing is certain: Kashmir's tourism is certainly going to get a boost. Those green undulating carpets of Gulmarg definitely look Swiss! © 2004 agencyfaqs!

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