VIP Frenchie pokes fun at the pocket billiardist

By Sohini Sen , afaqs!, Mumbai | In Digital | January 28, 2015
  • 101
In a humorous digital film, the brand talks about the Indian habit of 'scratching' in public and shows how to avoid such situations.

The league of extraordinary un-gentle men is what the Indian roads look like. Let alone the hostile behavior of some, several others have a nagging behavior of adjusting their underwear in public. Taking a potshot at this unpleasant and yet extremely Indian habit, VIP Frenchie has come up with a humorous campaign called IPBL.

The pocket billiards league (IPBL) is an imaginary sports league where the players are the regular Indian men. The film begins with an upbeat narration much like a sports commentary from the voiceover. Meant to inspire and enetertain, the film is a satirical take on men and their habit of scratching in public. The first few moments show a man being highly inspired for the 'man sport, contact sport' and then show the different players who walk amidst us, from the 'pant whisperer' to 'the juggler', the 'centre forward' to the 'double de-clutch'. The brand comes into the picture only at the very end; by clarifying that the comfort of Frenchie doesn't make you 'scratch and itch', thereby disqualifying you from the Indian Pocket Billiard League.

Abhishek Paul

"Frenchie has been a symbol for style, innovation and daring for long. But we decided that it was time we highlighted the comfort the brief gives. A lot of consumer interaction, interviews etc led us to the insight that often, uncomfortable underwear is the reason men display displeasing manners in public," explains Abhishek Paul, brand manager, VIP Frenchie.

Frenchie's famous film was about a man, clad in his briefs, flying down to rescue a girl being teased by a hooligan. According to Paul, with Amitabh Bachchan making the angry young man popular in the '80s, VIP was going with the trend. The campaign is remembered till today for the machismo it showed. However, with the times changing and the concept of 'damsel in distress' being unfavoured by most, VIP has decided to change the communication language as well.

VIP Frenchie was launched in 1984 as a unisex brand. With its stylish cuts and bold advertising, it was perceived as a rebel. The mini brief was positioned to appeal to the young urban Indian who was sophisticated, willing to experiment and daring in every sphere of life. The TG remains the same with the 21 -30 years of age making the core TG. But now, the brand speaks more to the A1-A2 segment, youth who are tech savvy and health conscious.

Cyrus Oshidar

"101 India creates a lot of branded content projects aimed at social change through humor. The opportunity to work with VIP and extend their 'adjust maadi' campaign into something funny and relevant was exciting and led to the formation of the IPBL - the Indian Pocket Billiards league. A spoof league complete with players and silly teams. It's just poking fun at men for poking themselves in public," shares Cyrus Oshidar, head of 101 India.

The brand has been almost absent from the regular television advertising space. But it has been regularly interacting with its fan base on Facebook and Twitter.

"It's not that we have not been advertising so far but have just stayed away from TVC'S. We have been advertising in the form of printads, hoardings & BTL activities heavily in specific markets i.e in our top 20 cities. Also, the digital medium is growing drastically and our TG which is the youth has taken to it in a big way. As a brand we need to explore every medium and evolve with changing times," explains Paul.

With the change of interaction medium, the brand has also shaken off the image of the 'international brief' which is how it was promoted back in the 80's. According to Paul, the international brief had already been established by the brand, and in many cases the consumer did not differentiate between the brand and the product category. "So many retailers even today get asked to give a frenchie, much like people ask to 'Xerox' a document and not photocopy it. The frenchie cut was established and we did not need to promote it as an international design any more."

VIP Frenchie enjoys Rs 90 crore market share out of the Rs 10,000 crore men's segment. However, 35 per cent of this segment remains unorganized. This is structured on a pyramid shape with the unorganized at the bottom, then the economy, the mid-premium, the premium and super premium range.

Kartik Ramnathkar

Hemant Kumar Sivan

According to Kartik Ramnathkar, founder of Balls Worldwide the entire subject has been looked at through a different perspective - even the way it is shot.

"I couldn't point out a single shot that looked even remotely gross to me. The Slow-motion shots add to the drama and the entire film flows in a very interesting fashion. To begin with, I really like the concept of Pocket Billards - the way it has been interpreted as a sport and magnified into a league. Our country is currently obsessed with leagues - be it the Indian Premier League for cricket or The Indian Super League for football, and so on. Relating the two is a brilliant and eye-catching idea according to me."

Hemant Kumar Sivan, ECD, Orchard Advertising feels that the idea works. "It voices the frustration of a host of Indians who have to silently watch and bear this disgusting act of Indian men playing pocket billiards In public. VIP Frenchie has read the ball correctly and hit it hard too. Would love to see how this one rolls ahead," he points out.

Ramnathkar further adds that "it's great that VIP Frenchie has adopted such a satirical approach to this subject, something new and fresh for the public to watch. Unlike other underwear brands using half nude, super fit, chiseled men to sell their product, this concept addresses the common man and his common problem - extremely apt for our society!"

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