afaqs!

Park Avenue Deo: Spray, Smell, Love

By Ashwini Gangal , afaqs!, Mumbai | In Advertising | April 23, 2013
The latest film for Park Avenue deodorant takes viewers back to the basics of product selection in the category.

Logic and reality aside, the message that most men's deodorant brands convey in their films is: 'Spray the product and sit back as the women swoon'. Park Avenue, in its latest ad for its deodorant range, says something quite different: 'Spray the product and well, love the smell enough to take the bottle with you everywhere you go'.

Ashish Khazanchi

While it sounds simple enough, the television commercial for the brand is not a literal execution. Rather, the ad shows a man taking the product along with him to various locations, like he would a romantic companion. The tagline, 'Zara Soonghke Toh Dekho', was coined to resonate with what the brand believes is actual retail-level behaviour as far as deodorant-shopping goes - that is, smelling a few bottles belonging to different brands before making a purchase decision.

Ashish Khazanchi, national creative director and vice-chairperson, Publicis Ambience (the agency behind this campaign), tells afaqs!, "Fact is, when a consumer is finally at the retail level shopping for a new fragrance, he checks out a couple of brands before making a choice."

The objective is to get consumers loyal to other brands to smell the product at the retail-level once and consequently change their brand preference. "All we want is for the new guys to check us out because we're confident of conversions if they smell it for themselves," he adds.

Was it a conscious move to ditch the swooning women? "Swooning girls-kind of advertising has become parity. It has become virtually impossible to distinguish one deo ad from the other with that kind of advertising," Khazanchi responds, saying it was indeed a conscious decision to speak about Park Avenue's actual product delivery instead.

Fragrant insight?

Priti Nair

Naresh Gupta

Priti Nair, founder, Curry-Nation, found the ad odd at first glance. "It's a strange one," she says, "It breaks almost every tried-and-tested category code, be it the story or the casting. The humour is very 'English'. Even the ad has been produced in a very 'firangi' style, not just the cast but also the look-and-feel. The Hindi line suddenly comes from nowhere." The ad reminds her of Old Spice films sans women. However, Old Spice ads are addressed to women. Here, as Nair points out, the ad shows how the product can take over the woman's role.

"Good move or not - time will tell but yes, it is very different from the stuff you see on the box. Do I like it? No. Does it stick in your head? Yes, in a weird kind of way. My gut tells me it will not work for the target group on many different levels but Ashok from Amrapur and Geeta from Gorakhpur might just prove me wrong yet again," Nair says.

Naresh Gupta, managing partner and chief strategy officer, Bang in the Middle, feels the men's deo segment may as well be a non-existent one, given Axe's category domination. "The category may well be called 'Axe and brands' -- labelled as 'Axe1', 'Axe2', and so on! The consumer, I guess, also buys it blindly, hoping to experience 'the effect'," he says, adding about the current campaign, "Finally a brand that breaks the code and, in my opinion, positions the brand as a true alternative."

Concurring with Nair though, Gupta too finds the combination of "international English voiceover" and "a very Indian brand promise" befuddling. "It has a very nice premise -- that you will fall in love with the deo and take it everywhere -- but brings it many notches down with the brand line," he says. "The brand line is funny and colloquial while the rest of the commercial is too 'proper'. May be this is just what may work for the brand: Don't think too much, just carry it everywhere," he concludes.

Interestingly, Publicis' Khazanchi tells afaqs! that the Hindi-English mix was a calculated move. "We deliberately kept the landing line in Hindi because of the disruptiveness. 'Check it out' or 'Smell it to believe it'- kind of lines just wouldn't cut it," he insists.

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