The detergent brand that started out of Karsanbhai Patel's 100 square feet workshop in 1969 continues to be popular in middle-class homes of the country.
In the recent past, Nirma appointed TapRoot India as its AoR, with the aim to revitalise its communication. The result was the 'underwater' commercial, which showed dancers moving with flowing fabric - a metaphor for clothes being washed in a bucket.
An important point in the ad was that it did not use the iconic Nirma jingle. This was a first since 1982, when the first Nirma ad was made.
This task was given to ThoughtShop, the creative agency founded by Vipin Dhyani on a project basis. The brief to ThoughtShop was to create a clutter breaking commercial, but retain the values of Nirma. The brand was firm that it did not want to carry on with the montage film route; it needed a different take on dirt removal.
The ad opens on the shot of a vehicle rolling into a puddle. A large amount of slush is about to fall onto a woman who is passing by. But just as the slush is ready to land on the woman, she sternly turns towards the puddle. Pointing her index finger at the slush, she says, "Nirma. Washing powder."
The slush pauses, surprised at the woman's words. She continues with the words of the jingle, in a firm tone and without any music, and the slush begins to feel threatened. Finally, she walks away untouched by the slush, which plops back into the puddle, much to the surprise of the onlookers.
The film has been shot by Amit Sharma of Chrome Pictures.
Without any change to the product itself, the TVC conveys the fact that dirt had better stay away from Nirma. Though Dhyani was skeptical about whether the big bosses at Nirma would like the firmness of tone in the jingle, he was pleasantly surprised when they were glad with the strict stand.
The special effects of the puddle were created by Joseph, who is a Singapore based VFX artist. The film was shot in Pushkar, Rajasthan and the puddle was added later.
The puddle was first created of a wire frame. However, in order to create the wire mesh, water balloons hanging from a rod were burst with nails and studied, so that the correct mesh could be made. Given that water doesn't have shape or form, it was more difficult to animate water; and the process took about a month.
What adlanders say
Vinay Kanchan, an independent strategic consultant, thinks that by personifying dirt, there is a change in the old way of showing muscular hands in a bucket trying to get rid of dirt. Personifying dirt is a method also used by Surf (Daag Acche hain); though the ways in which both detergent brands have done so is different. "I liked the way Nirma has total control of dirt and sort of tames it into doing what it wants the dirt to do," says Kanchan.
However, he doubts if this drastic change from the earlier montage films would go down well with Nirma's core target audience. "It's a huge risk that the brand is taking, but probably one that they need to take," he points out.
Manan Soni, director, Purnima Advertising agrees, saying that the brand has been around for 40 years; and a degree of fatigue is bound to set in. In order to avoid that, the brand seeks to renew its communication.
Purnima Advertising was the first creative and media agency for Nirma, and continues to handle the media duties.
Soni says that though all the legs of the communication mix are yet being worked on; the current campaign will heavily be skewed towards theatre and outdoor.