The detergent brand that started out of Karsanbhai Patel's 100 sq ft workshop in 1969 continues to be popular in middle-class homes. Nirma's TVC story dates back to 1982, a year that witnessed the birth of the first film for the brand, with the effervescent jingle, 'Washing Powder Nirma' (created by composer Vedpal).
There had been the occasional experimentation in the past, like the food fight ad conceptualised and directed by Prasoon Pandey of Corcoise Films a few years ago, but the brand promptly went back to its jingle dominated, formulaic ads as that seemed to work.
But when Nirma decided to look at things differently, the change was startling. 2009 saw some bold experimentation from the Nirma factory with the 'Underwater' and 'Projector' ad films. 'Underwater' showed a sea world of sorts with ballet dancers and clothes 'swimming' around instead of sea creatures in an artistic manner. This was followed up by the 'projector' film that had a young girl use a white sari, drying on a clothesline, as the 'screen' for the village to project a movie onto it as it is whiter than the actual screen.
In January, 2010, arrived the Splash film (vehicle hitting a puddle and a wave of slush that is arrested mid-air - just before it is about to fall on a woman who is passing by - after she spouts the Nirma jingle in a curt, commanding tone). The idea was to do something radical with the jingle, its strongest brand property, without veering too far away. Each of the jingle's words were accentuated in speaking it out, not singing. It made Nirma aggressive, from being the feel-good 'brand next door'. However, the attempt in 2011 will be to tone this aggressiveness down a notch, as it may have become a case of 'too much, too soon'. Nirma is also gearing up for a logo and packaging change in 2011.