As is the case with many an anecdote, this one too is apocryphal, but interesting. Apparently, once cricket commentator Henry Blofield's fascination for 'earrings' became known to camera crews covering cricket matches, cameramen used to scour the stands for women wearing earrings (the more outlandish the earrings, the better). And once a suitable subject had been identified, the camera crew would make every effort to draw Blofield's attention to the woman and her earrings, so that he could provide some incremental entertainment to television audiences with his funny observations.
Apocryphal, let it be said again.
The point is, television cameramen who cover live events - especially live events that have breaks at regular intervals, like cricket and tennis matches - are known to spend a good part of their time focusing on people in the stands. People guzzling beer. People dancing. People with bizarre earrings.
Which is why the situation in the latest television commercial for Lakme lipsticks is so natural and associateable for the average 'live match coverage' viewer.
The commercial itself has a fairly simple storyline. Break in tennis match. Cameraman scouts audience for variety. Finds attractive woman touching up her lips. Zooms in on lips. Shot is beamed on to giant-sized screen. Unaware of these developments, woman puckers lips and blows a kiss. Crowd goes ooh and aah… Eventually, the woman realizes that she is at the center of all this attention. Wondering why, she looks up at the screen to see her lips in the frame. Of course, she is just mildly bashful (not shy or indignant, mind you) and takes the interlude in her stride. 'Lakme woman' confidence at work, naturally.
Said like this, the commercial may sound a bit ordinary. But in film, the idea takes a nice little sparkling leap and comes across as a charming and refreshing piece of communication, such is the execution. And, of course, the jingle 'You never know who's watching your lips today' rounds up the idea. The creative idea here is interesting purely because of the manner in which the otherwise banal sight of someone touching up her lips has been dramatized. Yes, it is an exaggeration, but a relevant and plausible one. And one that ties in well with the core thought of 'Who's watching your lips today.'
Obviously, the lips are in focus for Lakme too. "The client brief for us was how do we make lipsticks a product of everyday usage," reveals Anurita Malik Ghoshal, client servicing director, Ambience D'Arcy. Apparently, Lakme's problem is not the competition as much as it is that of low usage. Incidentally, lipsticks enjoy a very high level of penetration in this country - about 82 per cent, which is marginally lower than that of nail enamel (at 84 per cent).
"Category penetration was not a problem," Ghoshal continues. "It was just that the frequency of usage of lipstick in India is very low, some 12.5 times a month. Apart from a small 'office-going' base, the usage of lipstick is limited to 'special occasions' like weddings and parties. The objective of this campaign is to increase consumption of lipsticks."
Lakme, incidentally, has over 50 per cent market share in lipsticks, while rivals Revlon and Maybelline account for approximately 15 per cent. Competition from Revlon and Maybelline is, however, confined more to the metros. The domestic lipstick market also has a number of unorganized players - smuggled Chinese and Taiwanese brands accounting for a huge share. "As the market leader, it is Lakme's job to grow the category by increasing usage," adds Ghoshal.
What this campaign attempts to do is kind of 'de-niche' lipsticks, whereby lipsticks are seen as everyday wear, as opposed to occasion-specific wear. Also, that lipsticks are for day wear, as opposed to night wear. "This is actually the beginning of a habit-changing exercise," says Yvonne Sheikhawat, creative director, Ambience D'Arcy. "The fact that lipsticks are enhancers is something that our target group knows. They admit that the lipstick completes their makeup. But there is also this perception that if I wear lipstick everyday, how will I look special on special occasions. Now this is a real problem that we have to battle."
Speaking about the evolution of the campaign idea ('Who's watching your lips today'), Rubita Gidwani, creative director, Ambience D'Arcy, says, "Once we got the brief, we worked our way backwards to why a woman wears lipstick. Yes, to look nice and attractive, but also because the lips are a focal point. In India, traditionally, it's the hair, the skin and the eyes that are seen as focal points. So women regularly apply oils for their hair, cremes and bleaches for their skin and kajal or surma for their eyes. What we decided was to show the usage of lipstick as being a part of everyday grooming."
"In the ad, the woman is someone who is willing to touch up her lips in broad daylight, in public, unselfconsciously," Sheikhawat takes up. "And she is not necessarily wearing the lipstick for others but for herself, although we say 'Who's watching your lips today'. The fact that she is not wearing the lipstick for someone special - even the stadium is full of men, women and kids, and not just men - suggests that lipsticks are for more than 'special occasion' use."
"All we want to say is the lips too are the focal point, so think lip," adds Gidwani. "The thought that it's not just people watching your lips, but people watching your lips on screen adds a dynamic to the idea. And the line 'Who's watching your lips today' is essentially a call for action."
Ghoshal adds that the line is currently being leveraged for ground-level promos for the brand. For instance, mobile television units - called the Lakme Lip Watching Team - stationed at thoroughfares identify women wearing lipsticks, interview them and inform them about the 'Who's watching your lips' campaign, and follow it up with offers from Lakme. "The idea is to activate as many media as possible and make the idea more tangible to the consumer," says Ghoshal. She adds that the tagline will continue to be the thought for all Lakme lipstick communication "for some time".
Agency : Ambience D'Arcy
The Team :
Client's Representative : Anand Chopra
Creative : Yvonne Sheikhawat, Rubita Gidwani
Servicing : Subhash Kamath, Anurita Malik Ghoshal, Jyoti Arora
Filmmaker : Sneha Iype, Prakash Varma
Production House : Nirvana Films/Shabbir Motiwala
Model : Yana Gupta
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