Gillette salutes the Indian cricket fan

By Sohini Sen , afaqs!, Mumbai | In Advertising | February 23, 2015
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In its new brand film, Gillette tells the story of a blind man and his undying love for the game of cricket.

Cricket is a religion we often say; a religion that almost every Indian follows. Procter & Gamble's Gillette has come up with a campaign to show exactly how immersive and inclusive the game can be. Created by Grey Worldwide, 'The best a fan can get' is a digital film which salutes the true fans of the game.

"If cricket is a religion in India, the fans are the ones who put the game on a pedestal. Gillette understands the passion of fans, as well as respects the colours of the Indian jersey. When we made the film, we didn't want to just leave it at that. We are, therefore, relaunching a special edition razor in the jersey colours," says Rajeev Sathyesh, country marketing manager, Gillette India.

The best a fan can get digital film

Gillette also has a tactical TVC

Gillette's print campaign

Rajeev Sathyesh

Malvika Mehra

The four-minute long film shows a man telling the audience about his love for cricket. The film goes into a flashback to reveal that, even after he lost his eyesight while playing the game, he managed to live the memorable moments of Indian cricket by listening to his son's commentary. However, after his son's marriage the man has been left alone in the house with no one to watch cricket with. He is relieved and given new hope when Rahul Dravid - also the Gillette brand ambassador - enters his house and starts to watch the match with him. The film ends with the brand thought being tweaked a bit to suit the situation - 'the best a 'fan' can get'.

"Some stories cannot be told in 30 seconds. Though not a true story, it is told in an evocative manner," says Malvika Mehra, national creative director, Grey India.

What it also points towards is the rise of stories about the less-abled. Be it the autistic child or the stuttering comedian, the cancer survivor or the blind photographer - ad agencies seem to have suddenly woken up to telling stories which have been ignored previously. While many experts feel that it is because there is more scope to talk about sensitive topics in a long film, others see it as a selfish ploy to get more likes.

"It is a strange coincidence that so many brands are doing it at the same time. But, it is certainly not intended to manipulate and get likes. But maybe, these stories do touch the core the most and that is why a lot of these films are being watched more and more," Mehra adds.

Gillette has been involved in sporting activities for long. Internationally, its brand ambassadors have been sporting legends such as Lionel Messi, Tiger Woods and Roger Federer. While Dravid does come in the last few frames of the film, one is left to wonder if his appearance was required - given that long-format films seldom have to take the support of a celebrity endorser. But according to Mehra, Dravid was required to bring in the sense of elegance and make the brand humane by saluting the fan himself. Additionally, when viewers see Dravid in the campaign, there will be higher brand recall and payoff.

For Sathyesh too, the length of the film was never a concern; nor was the risk of the brand being overshadowed by the story, especially when the brand names don't get mentioned till right at the end and at the beginning. "Connecting with the audience is important. Sometimes we appeal to the mind and sometimes to the heart. This is one of the latter," Sathyesh states.

It is probably with this thought that Gillette also released a tactical campaign for its special edition India razor. While a TVC (originally crafted by BBDO India, adapted this year with minor tweaks by Grey Worldwide) is doing the rounds on TV during matches, a print campaign announced the launch of the razor.

Does the brand connect?

Anuraag Khandelwal

Shradha Joshi

Sachin Das Burma

Anuraag Khandelwal, ECD and creative head, Soho Square, believes that 'the best a fan can get' is a big idea. "This ad is a sweet thought, although, it could have been directed better. In my humble opinion, it could have been much sharper had they ended with just the Gillette logo and the 'Gillette salutes the fan in you'. Ending with a multi-coloured razor and connecting it with the colours of Indian passion seems a bit forced to me," he points out.

According to Shradha Joshi, creative director, Enormous Brands, this is somewhere in-between being derided as a tearjerker and praised for plumbing the depths of human emotion, in context to cricket in India.

She says, "Occasional bits of humour and incidents of everyday life help to make the story wholesome. And, the time it takes up is required. The inclusion of Dravid lends a note of dignified respect to the exemplary fan. Overall, the choice of characters in a typical middle-class house, coupled with historical milestones in Indian cricket, is a masterstroke. As every Indian will not just relate, but remember this vividly."

However, she adds that Gillette doesn't exactly fit the bill. "The special product with the Indian colours seems to be made for the ad, rather than it being the other way. All in all, kudos for bringing out so much emotion in such a beautiful story," Joshi says.

Sachin Das Burma, group creative director, FCB Ulka, sees some glaring flaws in the film.

"It started off well and I thought it is going somewhere. How did the young boy keep his passion or love for the game alive till the time his son was born? And, the most disastrous, what kind of a son leaves his blind father alone after he gets married? Forget the brand connect, I think the writer is blind to basic human truths. It is good to ride on the cricket wave, but please be sensitive to human emotions," advises Burma.

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