Diyas, rangolis, gifts, greetings, food, and family - the right ingredients to make Diwali celebrations truly special, isn't it? However, we often fail to include in our festivities those who make our lives easy, happy, and safe, our support staff such as our domestic help, the 'istriwala' (laundryman), and the watchman in our building.
Highlighting the thought of sharing the Diwali festivities and bringing joy in the lives of the lesser privileged is Surf Excel, the detergent brand from Hindustan Unilever (HUL), in its recently launched ad film '#AbLagRahiDiwali'. The new campaign is an extension of Surf Excel's take on the theme 'Daag Achhe Hain (stains are good)'.
The background score in Urdu, "noor se uske hai jagmag zameen... beshak hai sajde may utri labon pe hanseen... megho se ho jaise barqat giri...", touches an emotional chord and is meticulously woven into the ad film. In the end, the poetic narrative concludes with "agar daag lagne se kisi ki diwali may rang aur roshni bhar jaaye toh daag acche hai", thus amplifying the theme 'Daag Achhe Hain'.
Speaking about the ad campaign, Iyer says, "The thought behind the campaign is to express how children can live and enjoy their childhood through stains. In this particular instance, if you were to see the world from the child's point of view, which is rather innocent, when he (the child) notices that somebody around him is unable to celebrate Diwali due to certain reasons, he decides to put 'rangoli' himself. So, in a way, this is a very child-like interpretation of the world."
However, "while #MadadEkIbadat campaign highlighted a child's emotion of helping out someone in need, #AbLagRahiDiwali campaign highlights the child's emotion of including someone in the festivities, someone who visits his home every day, but is not a relative," says Iyer.
The 'Daag Achhe Hain' theme has been a kingpin for the brand Surf Excel for over a decade, and Lowe Lintas has worked upon various campaigns centred upon the thought. "The 'Daag Achhe Hain' theme has lived a life of more than 10 years and I am sure that it has a life going forward as well. I have worked upon this from the very first day and it has been a wonderful experience because it kept evolving with
time," says Iyer.
We asked our experts if the ad succeeds in conveying the message by creating an emotional bond with the audience. And, was it well executed?
According to Sameer Aasht, founder director, Alma Mater Biz Solutions, although the plot for both the ads done for the same brand is around kids who help others and in the process, dirty their clothes, be it Ramzan or Diwali, the former is a lot more true for a single-minded audience. The Diwali ad, in contrast, adds a rather unnecessary layer of an unreal attempt to bridge class divides and force fits goodness.
Nimesh Shah, head maven, Windchimes Communications, says, "The role of kids in the South Asian market is far more accepted and better received than the US, European, or the Australian society. So, to see Surf Excel use them in their communication that is rooted in emotion is understandable. Kids add to the sweetness factor and build bonds just like they have done in this film. The issue for me is that it is very typical and predictable, so the ad will find it difficult to hold attention for a span of 2.4 minutes, especially in the online space."
Shah feels that the core thought of 'Daag Achche Hai' still holds merit, but in order to retain attention, the brand will either have to show unconventional situations or innovative solutions to problems that the protagonist deploys in order to hold the viewer's attention. "It is much like the Fevicol ad, in which the thought of 'Fevicol Ka Majbut Jod Hai' is manifested in a creative manner in every ad to have a captive audience. It would also be exciting to see if the brand could go beyond religious festivals and pick up other occasions to smartly convey the core thought," says Shah.
According to Sudhir Nair, managing director, digital, Omnicom Media Group, the idea captures the essence of both festivals and also acts as a reality check. "Kids enhance the softness and innocence of the ads. Kids may help the needy much more than grown-ups do, and kids do have a universal appeal. If it can lead to some social good it would be awesome. The ad has been shot well, and I liked the casting too, as it looks real. However, there is some amount of exaggeration, like the 'rangoli' patterns coming on the clothes, but it does the job. I would have liked to see more colours/lights and people added to some frames; else it's great," says Nair.