Pond's: An ad 'film', quite literally

By Devina Joshi , afaqs!, Mumbai | In Advertising | June 05, 2008
The plot thickens. To announce the launch of Pond's White Beauty, a whitening cream, HUL has gone the Bollywood way in India. The advertising is made to be a slick Bollywood movie trailer, except that the only story in sight is the Pond's one

You may & #BANNER1 & # have caught the movie trailer of Kabhi Kabhi Pyar Mein on television recently - a film starring Priyanka Chopra, Saif Ali Khan and Neha Dhupia. But as most would have now guessed, the movie itself is just a smokescreen; it is actually a mode of advertising to announce the launch of Pond's' new skin whitening cream.

Once upon a time
Pond's recently announced the appointment of actor Priyanka Chopra as its brand ambassador, and therein started this journey. Pond's White Beauty, as the product is called, has been launched in various markets by Unilever. The brief given to Pond's' agency in India, O&M, was to adapt to the Indian market the global episodic TVC created by Ogilvy in the Southeast Asian region. The story revolves around a man cheating on his girlfriend, with the latter deciding to woo him back with the help of the product.

"The storyline of the original seemed so Bollywoodish, we decided to treat it that way," says Zenobia Pithawalla, senior creative director, Ogilvy & Mather. Hence, an idea was developed to give the advertising story a Bollywood twist. A fictitious film - Kabhi Kabhi Pyar Mein - was created, with Chopra, Khan and Dhupia in the lead roles. Incidentally, this is the first time that the trio have been seen together on screen, which lends the freshness factor. The whole tale is about Khan and Chopra dating each other seriously before Khan becomes a celebrity and moves away from the city. Having acquired fame, Khan changes totally, and despite his girlfriend waiting for him back home, takes up with another woman (Dhupia).

The plot thickens

One of the 'film' posters
Chopra sees a magazine cover featuring the two and decides to have it out with Khan. She lands up in the same city and spots Khan with Dhupia. The story is about how Chopra woos Khan back by using Pond's White Beauty, a cream that enhances dull fairness with a much needed glow.

The Pond's activity is being conducted in phases. Firstly, there was a write-up in Filmfare magazine about this supposed love triangle to create buzz around the film. Next, a short trailer was unleashed on television channels (including music channels and GECs featuring movie trailer based programmes), which showed clippings from the "upcoming film" (with the super, 'Sometimes life gives you a second chance, but are you ready?').

Next, five mini-episodes are being unleashed on TV, each one revealing parts of the story bit by bit. The first one was released on June 1, and it reveals the story up till the point where Chopra catches her man with the sultry Dhupia. Just then, she sees an LCD screen in a shop, wherein there is a product display shot of Pond's White Beauty, with a voiceover on how it can change lives. What happens next will be revealed in the next episode, leading to the ultimate revealer (the fifth episode).

Each episode will air after an interval of 15 days, thereby wrapping up the whole story in a little over two months. All the episodes, according to sources, were shot with a budget of Rs 3 crore.

Apart from the film, a print shoot was done and divided into two parts: the beauty shots and the film posters.

Kabhi Kabhi foreign locations

A shot from the 'film'
The film was shot in Bangkok over seven days by director Shoojit Sircar (of Yahaan fame). The producer was Ronnie Lahiri of Rising Sun Films. "We were told to make it like a short feature film on TV, where the story is gradually revealed in parts," says Sircar.

The print shoot was handled by Farrokh Chothia. "The film posters helped in building the drama of giving it a feature film feel," says Pithawalla. "And as no film is complete without a trailer, we cut a Bollywood style trailer." The highlight of this trailer is the Bangkok airport sequence (showing Khan parting from Chopra in the pursuit of fame), where the shoot coincided with a flight leaving for India. "So, the queue in front of the stars was probably longer than the queue in front of the departure gates!" laughs Pithawalla.

Most of the sets (shots of a bedroom, a house, etc.) were erected. To show the love triangle, the treatment given to the film was totally 'filmi': slick, quick shots, high production values and high emotions. "The ad film is like Mills & Boons meeting Bollywood," sums up Sircar, while adding that the product had to be woven in a subtle manner into the film.

The look
Chopra was given a girl next door kind of look, with dresses dipped in soft pastel shades (including pink, Pond's signature colour). Dhupia, on the other hand, was made to dress up fashionably in bright hues. To lend her the right look of being "the other woman", she was even given black dresses and black under-eye makeup.

Khan has three looks in the film: The first is of a simple boy in love with Chopra. In the middle of the film, he acquires celebrity status, and is seen sporting polished, designer outfits that signify his style icon status. In the third and last part, when Khan comes back to Chopra, he is shown in sober clothes.

The production was handled by Benetone Films, while the post production was done by Phenomena Productions of Bangkok.