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Parle-G: A testament of popularity, testimonial style

By , agencyfaqs! | In | December 02, 2003
The five-commercial campaign for Parle-G rides on the findings of an ACNielsen study that says the glucose biscuit brand is the world's largest-selling biscuit


Opportunity is always knocking, goes a splinter thought of the popular aphorism. The trick is to open the door every time it knocks.

For confectionery major Parle Products Ltd, the findings of a recent study conducted by ACNielsen afforded the perfect opportunity to set up an interface with Indian consumers and speak to them about the popularity of flagship glucose biscuit brand, Parle-G. An opportunity that Parle Products and Everest Integrated Communications - the agency handling the Parle-G account - grabbed with both hands. The result? A five-commercial 'testimonial' campaign that underlines the findings of the ACNielsen study: that Parle-G has emerged as the world's largest-selling biscuit brand.

A cursory look at the commercials, just to get a hang of the campaign. The first commercial ('boarding school') is about this girl recounting her first experience of boarding school. She talks about the anguish that comes from leaving a big, well-knit family, the alien atmosphere of the boarding school, the tears of distress… 'Phir maine papa ke diye hue jhole ko khola,' she says. 'Pata hai usme kya tha? Parle-G… Wahi pehchaani khushboo, wahi swaad. Aisa laga jaise main ghar par baithke Parle-G kha rahi hoon…' The spot ends with the voiceover: 'Barson se apna sa swaad. Parle-G.'

The second ad ('exam') is about a man harking back to the 'all-night study plans' that he and his friends used to chalk out while preparing for their examinations. The plans, of course, stayed as plans, with the friends rarely ever burning the midnight oil. 'Raat bhar chai pee, raat bhar Parle-G khaayaa, thodi si padhai kar li… aur exams hamesha achhe beet gaye,' he shrugs and smiles. 'Soye dimaag ko jagaaye, Parle-G,' informs the voiceover.

Ad three ('college') has this boy narrating the story of how he gave the very desirable 'Tina' a lift from college one rainy day. It turns out that fussy Tina was prone to a bit of whining, while our narrator was rather stretched for money. 'Meri jeb mein woh das ka phata hua note! Usse paise mangta? Tchk…' the ego kicks in. The solution presents itself in the form of a roadside dhaba. 'Ek cutting chai, ek Parle-G. Uska to mood ban gaya, yaar…' the boy says, thrilled. 'No fuzool, paisa vasool, Parle-G,' the voiceover chuckles.

The remaining two ads ('school' and 'train journey') are about a mother talking about her son tendering excuses for not having his lunch in school, and about a woman recalling a train journey where Parle-G helped assuage hunger when the train was left stranded in the middle of nowhere. All five commercials end with the slug, 'Parle-G. Duniya ka sabse zyaada biknewala biscuit.' (For the records, as per ORG figures, Parle-G enjoys a 69-per cent share of the domestic glucose biscuit market, pegged at close to 2.7 lakh tonnes per annum. Closest competitor Britannia Tiger has a 24 per cent market share.)

"The client told us about the ACNielsen report which said that Parle-G is the world's largest-selling biscuit," explains Prabhakar Mundkur, president, Everest Integrated Communications. "And we saw there was an opportunity to talk to the consumer and make her feel proud of the fact that she was among the millions of Parle-G consumers the world over. It was something that not many brands can boast of, and the opportunity of reassuring the consumer about her choice of the world's most popular biscuit couldn't be missed."

The ACNielsen report might have presented the brand a communication opportunity, but the agency was not content with simply drumming in the largest-selling-biscuit message. It wanted to create a campaign that was befitting "a world champion"; one that would "stand out of the clutter" and "speak to a wide spectrum of users". The agency figured that the best way to achieve all this was to create a campaign featuring 'real people' as brand ambassadors of Parle-G. And, for good measure, layer in Parle-G's five 'driving propositions' (taste, nutrition, meal substitution, mental development/alertness, and affordability/value-for-money) by making them integral to the campaign thought.

"Parle-G's consumer base is unique in the way it cuts across age groups, income groups and SECs," says Shailesh John Khalkho, account group manager at the agency. "So although the core target consumers are young mothers and kids in the 6-to-12 bracket, we can have a campaign that speaks to the entire spectrum of consumers. Also, different people have different reasons for consuming Parle-G. These can be broadly clubbed under the five pillars of taste, nutrition, meal substitute, mental development and price. So we created five stories built around these five different propositions." The 'boarding school' ad is rooted in taste and familiarity, 'exam' highlights mental alertness, 'college' has affordability at its heart, the 'school' ad is about 'poshan' (nutrition) and 'train journey' showcases the brand as a meal substitute.

The most striking feature of the campaign is undoubtedly its 'candid camera testimonial' treatment. Absolutely nothing new about candid camera testimonials, sure. But given the brand's history of doing montage-and-jingle advertising (can anyone think of a Parle-G ad sans the 'swaad bhare, shakti bhare, barson se - Parle-G' chorus?), this is one big departure. "This was a campaign about real consumers, so we wanted to do a 'testimonial' campaign with real people in it," says Khalkho. "But we wanted to do interesting testimonials, and do them in a way that would not only look authentic, but also in a way that the target audience can identify with."

And if the campaign has achieved that end, credit should go to filmmaker Sumantro Ghosal, insists Milind Dhaimade, executive creative director at Everest. "Testimonials can be extremely boring and dry, and it's hard to make them interesting," he says. "But Sumantro did a lot of homework on this campaign. He created scratches, he helped us interview 150 consumers to identify actual Parle-G experiences, he kept the scripts simple, he did some excellent casting and he layered everything beautifully. I cannot take the credit which is rightfully Sumantro's." Interestingly, Dhaimade reveals that the five 'Parle-G situations' in the campaign have been culled out of the interviews the team had with consumers. "These situations helped us make our point about the brand, and we only dramatized them a bit to suit the requirements of a TV commercial," he explains. "The situations came from real life, that's why they're so relatable." © 2003 agencyfaqs!

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