Did we just see a desi ad with a kiss in it?

By Ashee Sharma , afaqs!, New Delhi | In Advertising | October 26, 2016
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This adorable new ad by Wrigley's Doublemint is BBDO India's desi rendition of Energy BBDO's American ad for Wrigley Extra.

How difficult could it be to tell a love story...a usual boy-meets-girl, they fall in love, distance for a while, and reunite later forever. While one may presume that it's quite simple, the task at hand for BBDO India was not that easy. On the one hand, the agency had to replicate the successful and universally loved Wrigley's Sarah and Juan love story, while on the other, it had to launch Wrigley's Doublemint Mints in India.

Wrigley India's brief to BBDO was to 'Indianise' Sarah and Juan to convey Doublemint's freshness proposition and to make the brand stand for connections. Thus was created the short, delightful, and near cinematic tale of Naira and Adi by popular filmmaker Shoojit Sircar and the agency team including Josy Paul, Ritu Sharda, and Ajitesh Verma.

Doublemint India ad #StartSomethingFresh

Doublemint India ad #StartSomethingFresh

The ad '#StartSomethingFresh' is the love story of a young couple, who shed their inhibitions to bond over moments of freshness enabled by Doublemint. Complementing the video is singer Gaurav Dagaonkar's contemporary rendition of the delightful number "Ek Ajnabee Hasina Se", originally sung by legendary singer Kishore Kumar.

Doublemint India ad #StartSomethingFresh

Doublemint India ad #StartSomethingFresh

M V Natarajan, managing director, Wrigley India, tells us that mint, as a category, is still nascent in India, and constitutes only 20 per cent of the Rs 1,000 crore gum market.

Commenting on the brand's expectations from this campaign, he says, "The Indian consumer now understands mint a lot better than what it did five years back. However, there's still a mindset that the only purpose of mint is to combat foul breath. That's something we want to change. With this product and campaign launch, we want our consumers - the youth - to view Doublemint as a conversation starter, confidence booster, and something which helps them break the ice and build new connections."

Adapting an international campaign

Josy Paul, chairman and chief creative officer, BBDO India, tells us that the challenge of 'Indian-ising' Sarah and Juan went much beyond the casting, location, or the soundtrack.

One of the ways in which the agency tried to localise the content was by reflecting the change with respect to women and their status in society that we are witnessing in the country today.

In the ad, one sees the girl make all the first moves towards the boy, be it the first kiss or the escape from the room by climbing down the pipe, to fight and apologise thereafter, smear the guy's face with colour on Holi, or go abroad to work, the film has many such instances of role reversal.

Josy Paul

Ritu Sharda

Also, this is probably the first time that a young couple has been shown kissing in an Indian ad. "(Shoojit) Sircar was absolutely clear that for it to be a modern love story, we had to show them kiss, and this resonated with each one of us since we knew we were talking to a younger audience," says Paul.

The brand custodians, though, are still mulling over the kissing sequence being a part of the TVCs which will go live in November. While the YouTube version is a longer three-and-a-half minute video, the TVCs will be shorter edits of 60 and 15 seconds.

Yet another big task for the team was that of integrating the brand in the ad. Ritu Sharda, senior executive creative director - Delhi, BBDO India, says, "The Sarah and Juan ad was for Wrigley's classic gum, even the wrapper of which has an iconic status. So, in that case, there was no need to show the product. But, since this was a product launch, we had to create a device of the Doublemint box and integrate it in the story."

Ajitesh Verma, senior creative director, BBDO India, who co-wrote the script along with Sharda, came up with the Doublemint box-domino idea for the proposal sequence. Steve Price, an American 'chain reaction artist' (as his Facebook status describes him) was flown down from the US to execute it.

Indian-ising Sarah and Juan

Conceptualised by Energy BBDO, Wrigley's Extra Gum - The Story of Sarah and Juan, was an instant hit that got over a million views on YouTube within a week of its release.

"That being a tall order", says Sharda, "the challenge for us was doubled because we had to better it."

There was, therefore, a lot of importance given to the execution. As Paul puts it, "It was not about 'what', but about 'how' we do it. It was about how to recreate the magic of pure and innocent love."

Paul tells us that the team was quite clear that the song had to be a classic. It was Sircar who recommended Dagaonkar's contemporarised version of 'Ek Ajnabee Hasina Se'. "The melody of the song is such that it worked then, it works now, and will work even 20-30 years hence. While many would have forgotten the song, and the youth may have probably only heard their parents humming it, it has the 'forever' factor, something that we have also iterated towards the end of the film," he points out.

The cast, Banita and Shubham, come from two different parts of the world. While Shubham is from Delhi, Banita is a second generation Indian-Sikh from London.

"It was part of the brief to find fresh faces for the campaign. They were the first recommendations, and we instinctively knew they were just right. Banita has the most expressive eyes that draw you in. Shubham, with his shy innocence, is her perfect match," shares Sharda.

The film was shot in Old Delhi, Connaught place, India Gate, and Paharganj. It was released on YouTube on October 21 and has since got over seven lakh views.

Thumbs-up?

Ramya Nagesh

Ayan Banik

Ramya Nagesh, planning - director, The Glitch, says that the ad is a "cute, romantic story which is bound to connect with the audience". According to her, the look, feel, and the execution contribute greatly in bringing alive the story in an Indian context.

However, Nagesh finds the brand connect of 'start something fresh' somewhat tenuous. "Overall, while it's a good attempt, it doesn't match up to the freshness of the original ad," she rues.

Ayan Banik, head-brand strategy, Cheil India, shares a similar sentiment. While he thinks that the ad is well-executed and makes for a nice, mushy love story, it lacks the freshness of the Sarah and Juan film.

"The freshness quotient of the ad could have been increased, if say, they showed people of different ethnicities or nationalities. This is a regular boy-meets-girl romance," he notes, adding that "even portraying the girl as the man is a clichéd way of being progressive. It was fresh when Fastrack did it many years ago."

According to Banik, yet another problem with the ad is that the brand integration lacks personalisation. "In the original film, the guy would doodle every moment that transpired between the couple on the gum wrap. It was their story; it was personal, while in this case, the brand integration is more like a lover's quirk -- like lovers collect old bus tickets or tissue papers with lipstick marks, this guy also collects the empty mint boxes," he states.

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