afaqs!

Bourbon: The sweet taste of deception

By Neha Kalra , afaqs!, New Delhi | In Advertising | August 17, 2009
Britannia Bourbon has finally taken to television, with its first ever commercial after 55 years in India. afaqs! digs into the many firsts for the brand in this communication attempt

For a biscuit brand that has abstained from advertising in the 55 years of its presence in India, Bourbon has done a good job of making inroads into Indian homes. Betting on its affinity with consumers built by a product story, it probably found no reason good enough to advertise so far. Now, the brand makes its first concerted foray on television.

afaqs! explores what it is like for the brand to go on a mass medium such as television for the first time and its direct focus on the youth, in spite of being a sweet bite for all members of the household.

The creative 'bite'

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The TV commercial opens on a girl ringing the doorbell outside her boyfriend's house. As he opens the door, she excitedly shows him the DVDs she bought for what she assumes will be a cosy night for the two of them. A look from the corner of her eye tells her that he's spending the evening with his friends watching a match. Grumpily, she enters the house.

The girl takes a seat at the dining table, where she catches sight of a packet of Bourbon. She picks up a biscuit and the first bite gives her an idea - she begins to moan sensually in order to grab the attention of the males around. With each bite, her moans get louder, while the men eye her with lust.

Disgusted, the boyfriend kicks his friends out of his house, spelling sweet victory for her. The girl asks innocently, "Tere dost kyun chale gaye? (Why did your friends leave?)". The film closes on the voiceover 'Baahar se kuchch, andar se kuchch aur (Something on the outside, something else on the inside).

Clearly, youth are the TG (target group) for Britannia's Bourbon now, even though the product was perceived as a general one for the family. Research conducted by Britannia reveals that Bourbon is highly consumed by the youth, and this segment of the target audience forms a major portion of the brand's pie. "We were insistent that if it is they who love our product, well, they got to love our brand, too," says Shalini Degan, category director, delight and lifestyle, Britannia.

The creative has been put in place by McCann Erickson, Bengaluru. Anil Thomas, senior creative director, McCann Erickson, was looking to bring out the reality of the youth as a set of people. "When the brand talks about 'Andar se kuchch aur', it's about bringing out what's inside the youth, which probably does not reflect on the outside."

The 55 year walk

Bourbon carved a place for itself in homes, most importantly, without much advertising since its launch 55 years ago - a feat which few brands have been able to accomplish. One of the strongest reasons for this, Degan of Britannia explains, could be that probably not many chocolate biscuit brands existed back then. "There was nothing that even came close to Bourbon. Preparing that kind of product needed technology and expertise, which came to other brands much later," she claims, stating that Bourbon was among the first biscuit brands to talk chocolate. So, very little competition and Bourbon's distribution strategy paved the way for what the brand attained.

McCann Bengaluru won the creative duties of Bourbon two years ago, when Britannia took the decision to split the duties for its entire portfolio amongst two agencies - Lowe and McCann. Prior to that, Lowe was handling the entire Britannia gamut, which it had been doing for a very long time.

'Opinion' time

afaqs! took the commercial through a few creative and planning people in the industry, and they had a lot to say on Bourbon's first comprehensive communication attempt.

On Bourbon taking up advertising finally, Mani Jayaram, vice-president, creative, Euro RSCG Delhi says that over time, it is extremely critical to be in the consumer's mind. "Yes, it is a household name by now, not advertised, no competition and all that. But thinking of all the new consumers (children and youth, who are coming in by the loads every day) the need to advertise is necessary. Also, for the existing customer base, one feels good to see the brand on the tube," he says.

The first spontaneous reaction of Atishi Pradhan, senior vice-president and executive planning director, Contract Advertising, is a smile. "Nice entertaining ad," she says, and, after a pause, adds, "But what was it for? Bourbon? That's not the Bourbon we know." She is of the opinion that it has no concern for what one assumes is the value/core of Bourbon biscuits.

N Padmakumar, national creative director, Everest Brand Solutions, understands that the TVC addresses just a sliver of the audience young adults, aged 22-30 years. It leads him to think that they must have thought about this long and hard.

"It is a bit disconcerting to see moaning women all over TV these days, what with the male deodorant category having hit upon one big, clichéd idea 'use this and the women will salivate'. So here's more moaning on TV, this time for chocolates, I guess," he observes. "For chocolate biscuits, traditionally, it has always been about sensual pleasure for the taste buds, and this ad sticks to tradition."

Though Jayaram of Euro finds it to be a nice commercial in terms of the creative idea, he does not consider it too lucrative.

When Pradhan of Contract ponders on it further, she wonders if it is about taste at all. "Or is it about a clever young girl who pretends that the taste is so sensuous? And if she is pretending, then are you trying to imply that it's not such a great taste?"

Bourbon is a Rs 120 crore brand. The brand claims to command a 72 per cent share of the bourbon category, and Bourbon grew by 29 per cent last year. According to industry observers, the chocolate biscuit market forms 4 per cent of the total biscuit category.

The bourbon biscuits market has other players such as ITC, Parle and even local players who have their brand names 'inspired' by the names of other established players. The overall chocolate biscuits market, which includes bourbon brands, has players such as Hide 'n' Seek, Hide 'n' Seek Milano, Good Day Chocolate and Pure Magic - which are the brands that Bourbon competes with in the overall chocolate biscuit category.