Park Avenue: Recycling countenance

By Shibani Gharat , afaqs!, Mumbai | In Advertising
Last updated : October 03, 2012
Created by Publicis Ambience, the campaign for Park Avenue Sliver face wash uses a paper or a mask as a metaphor for the face that combats dirt and pollution daily and establishes the need to 'recycle' the face.

Recycle, a term known to have associations with plastic, paper, glass and electronic gadgets, has a new found application, courtesy Park Avenue Sliver face wash. The first ever television commercial for the product uses a mask/paper as a metaphor to bring out the daily grind that one's face goes through and establishes the need to 'recycle' it.

Created by Publicis Ambience, the ad film begins with a crumpled piece of paper bearing a man's face, flying out of the window. The paper flies through dust and filth to finally land in a fountain of water. Suddenly, the creases are eliminated and the face emerges on the paper. The paper then finds its way to the same window and lands on the face of the man whose image is there on it. As this happens, the voiceover narrates, "Only we can make this scarce resource blossom with vitality."

The ad likens facial skin to recyclable resources and ends with the recycle triangle. The earlier ads featured a man wearing a mask. These two TV commercials are extensions of the same film but are of shorter duration.

Ashish Khazanchi

Suraja Kishore

Unlike the original recycle symbol, which is in plain green without any copy, Park Avenue's recycle symbol is accompanied by the words refresh, replenish and rehydrate. It may be noted that the recycling symbol can be used or modified without paying royalty charges.

Park Avenue claims that the product range has a lot of natural ingredients. According to Ashish Khazanchi, national creative director, Publicis Ambience, these natural ingredients refresh, replenish and rehydrate the face. "With this ad, we wanted to provide a differentiation for the brand that is missing in the category," he adds.

Along with the TVC, print, outdoor campaigns and activation will be used to strengthen the message.

Incidentally, this is the brand's foray into the skin care category and it is doing so with the face wash that aims to tap 'young executives'. "Grooming starts when a boy gets his first job. He feels he has to look good while going to work and he has the money for it," says Suraja Kishore, national planning director, Publicis Ambience. The company plans to target men from metros with this particular offering.

Kishore adds, "Face wash is not a big category and face wash for men is a much smaller market." Hence, according to Kishore, they decided to keep premium targeting because a boy using a face wash is not a 'regular joe'. "This man is a little upmarket not in terms of money, but in terms of his habit."

Kishore also mentions how the ad and the recycle angle build a ritual. "Refresh, replenish and rehydrate is the routine that you really want for your face," he says.

Khazanchi adds that since it was a premium product, they wanted to make it as lush as possible. "In terms of execution, there needed to be a basic feel of freshness around the product. The TVC demanded visual poetry."

The ad was shot in Prague and the production house was 7 Films; it was directed by Lloyd Baptista.


The industry opines that this campaign is unique as compared to many others in the category.

Prathap Suthan

Raghu Bhat

Prathap Suthan, managing partner and chief creative officer, Bang in the Middle feels that the film by itself is distinct. "It is away from the category and has been well executed, intriguingly so, and the words have been written well. Overall, it's a good film, unlike category parameters, and certainly differentiated," he adds.

But Suthan also senses that the average viewer may take too far away from the eventual product. "Hopefully, and as the film plays, I suppose the metro audience might get more out of it. However, relevance would be a question. Great to also see that women aren't falling out of trees and popping out of drains," he remarks.

According to Suthan, the campaign does have a global sheen as compared to the others in the category, and it's required. "Enough and more global brands to stalk and snatch the same audience. It is high time that India's aspirational brands give up the boring yet expected product windows and lab approach. Maybe men really don't want 'an international clinic' to endorse it as their baby."

Raghu Bhat, founder and director, Scarecrow Communications feels that the execution for this TVC is outstanding. "Focusing on the 'face' is a nice strategic and creative take. It's the most distinct face wash ad. The creative idea seems to have two layers to it. One is that your face is a scarce resource. So recycle it. The second - your face has been 'neglected/abused' for ages. It's time to correct that." But, at the same time, Bhat also feels that it would have been better if the ad had focused only on one of the two thoughts and both the thoughts are not the same. "Also, it would have helped improve the comprehension," he clarifies.

Bhat also likes the use of recycle for the skin. "Normally you hear of recycling messages for paper and wood. Using the same word with 'face' leads to a disruptive and memorable brand idea. Like many categories, skin care advertising also has its codes. This idea creates a differentiation, without breaking those codes," he says.

The use of a mask as a metaphor for torture is also unique, says Bhat. "It is smart as you can't show the face getting ravaged. It might look too 'un-cosmetic' and might leave a strong negative residual imagery. However, the mask may not accurately capture the 'scarce resource' bit," he adds.

He further adds that all face wash ads have an aspirational look. "That is because it's an aspirational wash product compared to soap. The product commands a premium and advertising has to do the same," he notes.

Bhat explains how most of the face wash ads look like they have been shot by foreign DOPs, using semi-foreign faces in a foreign land. "This is the result of an anxiety to be 'aspirational'. If you shoot the ad in a dust-laden ambience, you will achieve realism but that might compromise on the imagery and impact premium-ness." He also rationalises the execution by saying how face wash is a not a problem-solution product; it sells the promise of ever-lasting youth and beauty. "So imagery over realism, any day," he concludes.

First Published : October 03, 2012
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