Every year, it's got to be good. Actually, every year, it's got to be better. Because too many precedents have been set and expectations are that much higher every time. It's a destiny every brand built on the back of iconic advertising battles, be it a Budweiser, a Nike, an Absolut…
…or the homegrown Fevicol.
Ever since Mister Carpenter reached up and plucked that unbreakable egg out of the basket, it's been a continuous challenge creating new Fevicol commercials - a fact O&M will readily attest. For every new commercial must outshine past creativity or at the least, match the previous year's effort. So the 'egg' was followed by the 'cliffhanger' ('pakde rehna, chhodna nahin'). Then came the fantastically lateral 'shadow' film, followed by last year's 'bus'. That the 'cliffhanger' spot won a bronze Lion at Cannes in 2000 and 'bus' fetched a silver Lion this year says a thing or two about the standards set by the advertising on itself.
It's heartening to see that Fevicol has lived up to its promise yet again with this year's commercial, which is scheduled to break later today. The ad opens in an 'unreserved' railway compartment. As the train moves along in train-like monotony, sleepy heads loll. It soon becomes evident that a typical, middle-class north Indian baraat (marriage party, with brass band in tow) is occupying much of the compartment. Interestingly, a young woman - distinctly urban, from her looks - is also seated in the compartment, reading a book. Seated opposite her are the bride and groom, the bride asleep on the groom's shoulder. The groom (actor Virendra Saxena) stares at the woman for a while, before nodding off.
Cut to the train at a station. The baraat disembarks, to be welcomed by an extended family of aunts, grand aunts and sundry relatives. Even as the groom is being showered with attention, his eyes seek out the woman on the train… now standing at the far end of the platform. Staring at him. And smiling coyly.
As the brass band picks up a few stray notes in the background, the woman motions with her hands, beckoning the groom to her side. The groom's face lights up, the band breaks into a song, and he breaks into a run… A run that doesn't take him one bit forward. A run as if on a treadmill, the legs moving furiously, body stuck in one place.
At first flummoxed, then frantic, the groom reaches out for the woman… desperate.
Suddenly, there is a jolt - and the groom opens his eyes and senses his wife on his shoulder, the dingy compartment, the rattling of the train. Trying to make sense of his shattered dream, he groggily looks around and notices that his head was lolling against a cardboard box. He peers at the box. 'Fevicol. The Ultimate Adhesive' it says. The penny drops. He looks across at the woman, who gives him a friendly smile. The groom quickly picks the box up, dumps it at a distance well away from his head, settles down, looks at the woman one more time and determinedly shuts his eyes…
"The challenge is to find newer expressions that reinforce Fevicol's brand values of being the ultimate adhesive," agrees Abhijit Awasthi, creative director, O&M. "It's not easy, and we had to really push ourselves." He believes that the biggest breakthrough with this commercial is the move from "the physical relevance of stickiness to stickiness that works on the mind". Till this moment, Fevicol advertising always talked about stickiness in the physical sense. The hen that ate out of a Fevicol tub; a Fevicol tub perched atop a television set that helped an actor on television to hang on for dear life; a shadow stuck on a Fevicol-painted shutter… "With this ad, we are saying that Fevicol's adhesive qualities work even in your dreams," says Awasthi.
It wasn't a conscious move, however. "We weren't saying 'enough of physical stickiness' or any such thing - it just happened, very unintentionally," Awasthi reveals, adding that the germ of the idea came from Sonal Dabral. "Sonal gave us the idea about something happening in a dream, and Piyush (Pandey) and I evolved the idea and crafted this one. And in the context of this ad, it made perfect sense because dreams are very surreal and the 'running but not moving' feeling is common in dreams."
The highlights of the film - directed by Prasoon Pandey - are the casting (getting the ageing Saxena to portray the dulha is most unexpected and welcome) and the performances, (especially Saxena's). The way he hunkers down after putting the killjoy Fevicol box aside is a treat to watch. As the city-bred woman, Katrina Kaif is good. With oomph and innocence perfectly matched, she comes across as a woman one might meet on trains and about whom men might mildly fantasize. Not just Kaif, everything in the ad looks very natural.
A word for the music too. When the groom first notices the woman looking at him in the station, the music is tentative. A few notes here and there, as if the musician is finding his feet. As the groom gains in confidence, the music gains in strength and when he breaks into his run, the band runs riot. Layering…
Incidentally, the band is playing a typically 'yokelized' version of 'Main nikla, gaddi le ke' from Hindi movie, Gadar. Here's how it happened. "During the shoot, one of the musicians in the band was playing the tune," Awasthi recounts. "Prasoon heard it and immediately figured this would go very well with the ad. So Corcoise (Films) bought the required rights of the song from Zee (the producers of Gadar), gave it a 'besura' pitch and put it in." Â© 2002 agencyfaqs!