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Surf Excel: The puddle war is back on television screens

By , agencyfaqs! | In Advertising | April 09, 2007
Lowe is back with its second thematic campaign on Surf Excel, which revolves round the thought 'Daag Achhe Hain'. A puddle situation has been leveraged once again, but in a different setting and using a different storyline


Following & #BANNER1 & # up on 2005's successful commercial, 'Daag Achhe Hain', for Surf Excel couldn't have been easy for Lowe. Two years and some tactical ads later, the agency is back with a thematic campaign for the brand.

"We were under a lot of pressure," admits Priti Nair Chakravarthy, executive creative director, Lowe. "As the earlier brand campaign was so well accepted, we knew that the second one better have an equally strong insight."

As most of you may know, 2005's award winning commercial for Surf Excel, titled 'Puddle War', had a school boy leaping into a puddle and 'beating' it up to pacify his sister, who had fallen into it and hurt herself. Towards the end, the boy gets up proudly and tells his sister, "Sorry bola (The puddle apologised to you)", adding the cute factor. By showing kids emulating adult behaviour, the central idea was that if one gets dirty and learns something in the process, then dirt is good.

Two cars collide into each other, resulting in a fight between its owners

The fight continues amidst peak traffic

The kids of the car owners look at each other, coming up with a silent plan to break the fight

One kid hurls orange juice on the other...

...while the other spatters muck all over him

The two wrestle in mud, in a fist fight

When their fathers finally break the fight, the kids smile at each other

Voice-over on 'Daag Achhe Hain', along with pack shot
The strategy this time around was the same - showing children learning/experiencing something good while getting dirty. Therefore, Lowe is out with a film that has another stain story to tell. The puddle factor is once again an integral part of the film.

The ad opens on the shot of a car crashing into another in peak traffic. The owners of the two cars step out and begin bickering angrily, blaming each other for the accident. As the wrangling stretches on, their kids (dressed in school uniforms, signifying that their fathers were dropping them to school), look bored. Each boy tries to get his father's attention in order to break the fight, but to no avail.

The two boys then look at each other, and come up with a plan. One kid hurls orange juice from his bottle onto the other's shirt. In retaliation, the other kid spatters muck all over the first boy. The two then fall into a puddle nearby, rolling over in a fist fight. When onlookers point out what they are doing, their fathers are finally distracted from their fight. After some struggle, each father-son pair walks away in a huff. The two children turn and wink at each other, exchanging knowing smiles. A female voice-over concludes, "Agar kuch achha karne mein daag lag jaate hain, to daag achha hain, na? Surf Excel. Daag Achhe Hain (If, by doing something good, your clothes get dirty, then dirt is good, isn't it? Surf Excel. Dirt is Good)."

According to Chakravarthy of Lowe, even in real-life situations, children possess the innate power to defuse tense situations with their ready wit. The question before the agency was what situation they should defuse in the first place. "We wanted an outdoor setting for sure," she says. "And then we realised that road rage is the commonest of all adult fights out of home."

So, situations were reversed as the adults actually bickered like kids, while their children had the presence of mind to behave like adults. Chakravarthy hopes that dialogues in the ad, such as "Chaddi chod" ("Let go of my underwear", which one kid yells during the fight), will hook the viewers, just like "Sorry Bola" did the last time around.

Vishal Gupta, regional marketing manager, fabrics cleaning division, Hindustan Unilever, points out an interesting facet to the communication: While in 'Puddle War', the issue in question was more personal, this ad, with road rage as its theme, addresses society at large. "Like the Surf Excel 'Two Buckets' ad, this one has a point of view on society, while delivering the brand message," he says.

The earlier ad's voice-over stressed that if stains lead to something good, then stains are good, but this ad reverses that. It says that if something good leads to stains, then stains are good. This clearly shows a subtle shift in the brand message. "Earlier, the ad was more educational, making people warm up to the concept of 'Daag Achhe Hain'; this one is more focused on doing good in society at large," Gupta states.

The ad has been directed by Abhinay Deo of Ramesh Deo Productions. It was Deo who directed 'Puddle War' as well. The new ad film was shot over two days in Karjat, Maharashtra, with handheld cameras. "While 'Puddle War' was more of a mushy, cute film, we wanted to give this one a real-life feel," says Deo, "as the traffic fight situation in the film is quite real."

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