Bisleri fights the 'original mountain water' war

By Devina Joshi , afaqs!, Mumbai | In Advertising | November 04, 2008
Bisleri's new commercial goes beyond its brand values of safety and purity, touches upon spirituality and tries to claim the 'original mountain water from the Himalayas' territory. All this in one commercial

Not too

many months ago, Tata Enterprise's natural mineral water brand, Himalayan, made a splash in the Indian market, hailing itself as '100 per cent pure mountain water from the Himalayas'. The credo there was that as the world is turning towards spirituality and ethnicity, one mustn't forget the purity in what's original and untainted.

Himalayan even rolled out a commercial (made by Rediffusion Y&R) that had the earth ripped off its commercial elements, with everything going back to its natural state (including mountain water, now bottled in the form of Himalayan).

A few months later, things took a rather interesting turn when Himalayan filed a case against Bisleri on an issue regarding "trademark infringement". The latter had even launched a website,, which it had to discontinue.

Now, Bisleri is back with a commercial that has it, quite indirectly, trying to claim the original mountain water territory once again. Shot on a budget of a whopping Rs 1.5 crore, the ad employs special effects and has been created by Red Lion, the Elsie Nanji founded design arm of Publicis India.

The commercial opens on a shot of the Himalayan mountain range "breaking" into a thousand water droplets. Within one such drop, we see a man seated in a meditative pose. The voiceover talks of how mountain water is 'precious water", giving life to earth, while the visual shows trees gaining life from water. Next, the visual depicts metaphors of spiritual significance such as the Mandala art, yogic chakras and poses, and even a meditative dance in progress. Finally, two human beings embrace each other in a celebration of life, encapsulated in a water droplet. The voiceover concludes that Bisleri Mountain Water is "the sweet taste of purity".

Although the ad doesn't openly hail Bisleri as the original mountain water, Elsie Nanji, managing partner, Red Lion, says that the leadership claim is, in fact, strong but subliminal. "Our brief was for Bisleri to 'own mountain water'," says Nanji. "Over the years, Bisleri has become generic to the category and is, in fact, the original mountain water. We had to take the leadership stand in this case." One will have to wait and see what its younger counterpart, Himalayan, wants to say on that.

The ad shows how water touches all our lives and the channel through which it travels in our own bodies. "This is water from the Gods… and it is a vital ingredient in our body," says Nanji, adding that the spiritual layers have been added to give an ethnic, authentic feel to support the original mountain water claim.

The production has been done by White Light, and the whole film took about three months to complete. While some of the production work was done in India, a portion of it (such as the shots showing the mountains breaking into water droplets) has been done in Los Angeles.

Ruchika Desai, senior brand manager, Bisleri, says that the chief problem for the brand was to go beyond the functionality of the product and move into the imagery turf. Over the years, Bisleri has stood for purity and safety (most popular among its ads were the 'Play Safe' campaigns featuring model and actor Dino Morea).

Bisleri revamped its packaging in October 2006, going from blue to green, because "everyone in the category had adopted the colour blue", according to Desai. Back then, Bisleri launched a TVC showing the journey of a Bisleri bottle - how it goes to its origins, the Himalayas, and comes back refreshed and ready to rejuvenate.

"In this commercial too, we have shown how Bisleri water helps celebrate life, rejuvenate people and benefits the human body holistically," says Desai.

Annual ad spends for Bisleri are pegged at Rs 35 crore. The campaign will enjoy a two month burst on air, take a break, and return again early next year.

For the record, Himalayan Natural Mineral Water, the internationally known natural mineral water brand, is now a product of Tata Enterprise. According to the company, the water is endowed with vital organic minerals. Untouched and unprocessed, it has a taste acquired after more than 20 years of percolation, as it makes its way to an underground aquifer located in the Shivalik range of the Himalayas.

Bisleri, on the other hand, has been around for several years. Mineral water under the name, Bisleri, was first introduced in Mumbai in glass bottles in 1965 by Bisleri Ltd, a company of Italian origin.

Parle bought Bisleri (India) in 1969. The company recently introduced Bisleri Natural Mountain Water - water brought from the foothills of the mountains in Himachal Pradesh. Its recent ad campaigns revolve around the thought, 'The Sweet Taste of Purity'.

© 2008 afaqs!