Grey Thailand's mini-movie for Pantene wins at NYF 2009

By Abhishek Chanda , afaqs!, New Delhi | In Advertising | February 13, 2009
The ad film was scripted by Sajan Raj Kurup, ex-regional creative director, Grey Worldwide, while he was working at the agency two years back. Interestingly, the ad was awarded in the Short Film sub-category

A four-minute ad for Procter & Gamble's shampoo brand, Pantene, created by Grey Thailand has won a Silver World Medal at the New York Festival (NYF) 2009. The metal was won in the Film and Video awards category, under the Short Films sub-category.

The ad was penned by Sajan Raj Kurup, ex-regional creative director, Grey Worldwide, while he was looking after the creative duties of the agency, a good two years back. Kurup is now the chairman and CCO of CreativeLand Asia, an agency he set up after quitting Grey.


film was shot by Thanonchai Sornsriwichai of Phenomena Films, Bangkok, in the outskirts of Thailand, over a period of five to six months. It went on air in various regions of Thailand in September 2008.

The film, titled Chrysalis, is in Thai with English subtitles. It opens on a dejected, deaf and mute girl, walking down a street with a violin in her hand. Her friend mocks her, saying that if the deaf and mute could play the violin, maybe ducks would fly someday. The jealous friend, who herself is a pianist, looks at her scornfully.

The girl finds solace in a street musician, who plays the violin. As the two start conversing through sign language, she breaks down and confesses to him that her friends keep mocking at her ability to play the instrument. The musician consoles her and asserts that music is a visible art form. He promises to help her in mastering the violin.

However, in a stray incident, the girl's jealous friend spots her practising for a classical music concert. Out of sheer envy, she tips off some goons to break her violin.

Next, the film cuts to the concert, where the jealous girl has finished playing her piano piece. Just when the announcer goes to announce that she is the last performer, the deaf and mute girl, with a broken violin, steps in.

The film ends as she plays her heart out and enthrals the audience with her performance, as the envious friend looks on. We see flashbacks of the story thus far, with shots of a butterfly breaking out of its chrysalis as a visual metaphor. The film ends with the Pantene logo and a super, 'You can shine'.

This film has several peculiar features. First, though this is an ad, it has received laurels as a short film. Second, there are no shampoo shots till the very end, nor any mentions of the product's functional benefits, especially considering the product category. Third, it took close to two years for the film to get a nod from the client, P&G, and go on air.

Speaking to afaqs!, Kurup shares some of the interesting stories behind the film. He says that while working on this film, Kurup and his team were sitting in a jazz bar in Malaysia. That's when he noticed a mother and daughter in conversation. The mother, a renowned jazz singer was miffed at her daughter's inability to pick up jazz. "It is from here that I got the idea of a deaf and mute girl fighting against all odds to prove herself, which forms the crux of the film," he says.

He maintains that the film was shot painstakingly by Sornsriwichai and a lot of detailing was done, as far as the shots, cuts and sequences were concerned. What's interesting is that an ad film competed with some of the cutting-edge short films from various parts of the world, and ended up picking a metal in a category it wouldn't typically be entered in.

The background violin score is Johann Pachelbel's Canon in D minor, which has been redone by a Thai musician. The original composition was done around the 17th century, during the Baroque period.

The title, Chrysalis is derived from a term that describes the pupal stage of butterflies. A sequence in the film depicts through a time lapse, the different stages of a butterfly's life till it emerges from it's cocoon and flies out in the open. This sequence in itself functions as an innuendo for the girl's internal struggles and her final victory.

As far as the brief for the film is concerned, Shilpa Swaroop, chief executive officer, Grey Thailand, tells afaqs!, "Pantene Thailand had briefed us to communicate the proposition of 'You can shine' and create an emotional connect between the Thai consumer and the brand, when most ads in this category were communicating stereotypical functional benefits of the product and its properties."

She maintains the brief was specifically to create a short film, devoid of the typical product shots and properties and without the aura of a celebrity.

She adds, "Throughout the film, the product has not been inserted, but instead, facilitated through the girl's journey."

Chrysalis broke in various pockets of Thailand in September 2008. Unsurprisingly, it was aired on TV for a short time, keeping in mind that it is a four-minute long film. The campaign was promoted through the Internet too. The online campaign comprised trailers and clips of the film to start with, which were later followed with the final film. Blogs were also employed to publicise the campaign. The campaign will be aired again in movie halls in Thailand in July 2009.

One wonders at the efficacy of such a film, devoid of product shots or direct benefits - a concept which often has the chance of burning a hole in the client's pocket. Swaroop justifies, "The film was not created to produce hard results. Again, it has been running for only three to four months, which is not enough to measure the outcome. We are glad that P&G took up this unconventional approach and gave a nod to the project."

© 2009 afaqs!