Khan brothers are also curious about Chlormint

By Neha Kalra , afaqs!, New Delhi | In Advertising | June 15, 2009
Chlormint has finally gone the brand ambassador way, with Salman Khan in a new commercial for the brand

Considering that it is stupidity to question the reason for consumption of Chlormint, it seems to be an even bigger sin to pop the question, knowing what the consequences could be. Thus goes the new commercial for Perfetti Van Melle's Chlormint - and this one's got a familiar face to carry the brand story forward - actor Salman Khan, the brand's first ever endorser.

The brand has gone back to Dobaara Mat Poochhna, which is picking up from where it let off three years ago (in 2006).

Dobaara Mat Poochhna dates back to 2002, when the creative agency on Chlormint, McCann Erickson, inaugurated the positioning with the Paanwala ad. This was followed by Swami (towards the end of 2002), China (in the beginning of 2005) and Lift (beginning of 2006).


The new TV commercial opens in an airplane, where Sohail Khan is playing mirror with brand ambassador Salman Khan (copying his every move), much to the latter's discomfort. In order to get rid of him, Salman picks up a Chlormint offered by the airhostess, and asks the famously inane question, 'Hum Chlormint kyun khate hain bhaala? (Why do we have Chlormint?)'. Predictably, Sohail repeats the same.

Cut to both the Khans being hurled out of the plane by the airhostess. Salman, who has a parachute in his bag, is safe, while Sohail, whose bag is stuffed with books, is soon headed to earth. The ad ends with Salman warning the consumer, 'Chlormint. Bina taiyaari ke, dobaara mat poochhna' (Don't ask again, without preparation).

Prasoon Joshi, executive chairperson, McCann Erickson India, and regional executive creative director, Asia Pacific, McCann Erickson, reveals that the mass market brand is looking at expanding its base. "Taking a step ahead in the creative idea and getting Khan on board serves the purpose," he says.

Thou shalt speak

The creative strategy has taken a step ahead with a 'face' to the brand. afaqs! finds out whether this face-lift works, and how the ad industry rates the attempt.

"I would go with the rooted and Indian Paanwala ad. After a few years, I won't remember this ad at all, though I'm sure the Paanwala and Lift ads would linger on in my mind," states Anil Verma, executive creative director, North and East, Mudra.

The situation is not new and the ad seems to be inspired by 'Andaz Apna Apna', Varma adds. Furthermore, the 'twist' that the duo will be thrown out is predictable.

Siddharth Loyal of the brand strategy department, Wieden+Kennedy, seconds Verma - he personally prefers the earlier strategy of not using any celebrities as "those ads were fun to watch and had a great recall without trying to be too 'in your face'."

"I'm not sure what the brief was, but in my mind, the brand is way ahead of any celebrity and does not require them - no matter how big they are. Completely irrelevant in this case," he declares.

Why a face? Why Salman?

Chlormint, as one is aware, has made inroads into consumer minds through its slapstick, quirky commercials. Considering the kind of brand recall it has gained without a brand ambassador, it's worth questioning whether the brand requires an ambassador.

Nikhil Sharma, senior marketing controller, Perfetti Van Melle, views bringing Khan on board as a strategic decision. He describes it as a two-pronged objective.

The breath freshener category has been growing at a lower rate compared to the entire sugar confectionery business. "So, to shake things up, we took it upon ourselves to rejuvenate the category. Secondly, the use of a celebrity has the ability to impart quantum growth to the brand, rather than just incremental growth," he says.

Joshi of McCann launches into a theory. "A Beautiful Mind would have done well as a story even without Russell Crowe. However, he was there to give a message that people would want to listen only from him," he shrugs. That's star advertising for Joshi. "There's nothing negative about it. I am for it, however, I am not in favour of how it is used by many brands," he explains.

Khan, Joshi says, has been brought in to rope in those people whom the brand's other commercials couldn't reach out to without a familiar face.

The baton passes to opinion bearers. Kiran Khalap, co-founder, chlorophyll brand and communications consultancy, accepts that it would be right to presume that Chlormint has done well in terms of brand recall. Khalap adds that very few brands are able to use the so-called brand ambassadors to advantage - "usually these guys and gals end up 'vampiring' the brand." However, he gives reasons about why marketers approve of their usage - it's a safe strategy.

"Incidentally, some of the biggest Hollywood stars sell everything from pots and pans (Schwarzenegger) to cosmetics (Jodie Foster) in Japan, which is a market obsessed with stars!" he exclaims. "Also, it's a lazy-easy strategy for the creative person: no need to think - just put Hrithik Roshan on some bike and hope like hell it sells!"

Sharma reasons that Khan has been brought on board to give the brand a refreshingly youthful appeal, a distinct sense of humour and most importantly, to leverage on Chlormint's strong male personality.

He also suggests that the brand and Salman Khan make a good pair. "In a country where movies are religion, Salman is a superstar. He embodies qualities such as a machismo, a devil may care attitude and at the same time, charm and light-heartedness," he says.

Khalap is "clueless" on Perfetti's move to get Salman in Chlormint. "The first associations with him are black buck killing, bad driving and pumped-up bare body appeal for middle aged women. I don't understand how any of these associations build on Chlormint's quirky humour in slice-of-Indian-life stance."

Verma of Mudra understands that Salman always needed a partner in feature films - Govinda and Aamir, for example. Due to that, quite contrary to what Khalap and Loyal say, he feels that in that sense, bringing the Khan brothers is a sensible decision.

Loyal of Wieden+Kennedy strongly feels that using celebrities is a tricky business. "Today's consumers are way more evolved than we actually imagine them to be - they need to see relevance in both the product usage and brand positioning before they become active consumers of the brand, and no amount of celebrity endorsements will convince them to buy into the brand unless it is actually relevant."

Resonating Verma and Loyal's sentiments, Khalap has always thought that the brand has attacked the impulse purchase category of breath fresheners cleverly over the years by making the rational 'reason why' almost a throw-away line.

"To its credit, the new line 'Bina taiyyari ke, dobaara mat poochhna' does provide a new pair of legs to the campaign," Khalap opines.

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