Ever since the luckless elephant was involved in a futile tug-of-war with that Fevicol-bonded piece of wood, Fevicol advertising has revolved around the brand's core property of physical strength and stickiness. However, over the past five years or so, brand communication has moved away from pure end-user benefit - which, in the case of Fevicol, is a superior adhesive for wooden furniture - and taken a more lateral approach to physical strength. So the last five commercials for the brand ('hen', 'cliffhanger', 'shadow', 'bus' and 'train journey') have been less about wood and furniture, and more about the rub-off that Fevicol's stickiness has on people and objects in its close proximity.
With the new television commercial, the wood and furniture is back in Fevicol advertising. Dished out in patented Fevicol style humour, of course.
The ad opens on a bathing ghaat in Benares, where an assortment of pious souls are performing their ablutions. The tranquility of the ghaat is shattered when a small boy runs down the steps, sounding some sort of an alarm. His frenzied shouting results in a commotion, with the entire waterfront stampeding towards a shuttered house in the middle of a busy market. People throng the house, pushing and shoving to get a better view of the goings on.
Cut to the inside of the house where a young man is standing on a chair, tightening a noose. The townsfolk holler at him through the barred windows, begging him not to do the unthinkable. Their entreaties appear to fall on deaf ears. Clearly enjoying all the attention he is being lavished with, the man calmly goes about giving the final touches to his dramatic exit.
He tightens the noose one last time. He then leans forward, cranes his neck and pulls the noose around his head. He looks in the direction of the crowd, searching their faces for reactions. Suddenly, he teeters. Cut to the chair that is supporting him. Unable to bear his weight, the chair twists slowly, then gives in. As the chair smashes, the man comes crashing down and falls amidst the wreckage - stunned by the fall, but otherwise unhurt. Cut to an old man at one of the windows. 'Fevicol nahi lagaayo toh saale ka kaam nahi hoyo,' he grunts, unable to hide the disgust in his voice. 'Nahi hoyo,' the crowd commiserates, almost heartbroken with the way the suicide bid came undone.
Just then, the rafter that the man had used to tie the noose to creaks… then gives way. It plunges down and crashes into the man lying beside the wrecked chair. Wide-eyed, he stares for a second, then passes out. 'Fevicol nahi lagaayo toh saale ka kaam ho gayo,' the old man now remarks, eyes twinkling. 'Ho gayo,' the onlookers agree and start filing away, having had their fill of the day's quota of entertainment.
"For the last four or five years, we have done a lot of lateral advertising around Fevicol's strength, but none of it focused on wood and furniture," agrees Abhijit Avasthi, creative director, O&M. "Sometime this year, the client and agency team agreed that the physical strength of Fevicol and its effect on furniture should be the strategic direction that we should explore for Fevicol this time. The basic thought was to make the advertising more product centric, with a direct reference of the brand's usage on wood and furniture."
According to the agency, the reason for bringing a reference to wood and furniture back into brand communication is "keeping new consumers in mind". The rationale is that new consumers are coming into the market, and for the brand to stay relevant to them, keeping the end benefit and the product story alive is critical. However, the agency insists that while the objective was to go back to the brand's basic properties, "we had to do it without losing the edge and the creative values that the brand has acquired over time".
Which is why, Avasthi informs, the agency came out with many scripts for the commercial. " The focus was on physical strength, and the communication had to be built around wood and furniture. Some of the scripts were strong on physical strength but didn't build a convincing story around wood, so we had to drop them." Finally, this script (written by Piyush Pandey, group president & national creative director, O&M) happened, and Avasthi says it went down well with everyone, "as it was true to the communication objective, plus it had the typical Fevicol flavour".
An interesting aspect of the commercial is the manner in which Fevicol has been pitched. While all previous communication for the brand showcased situations where things occurred because Fevicol happened to be around, the situation in this one unfolds and reaches a climax only due to the absence of Fevicol. It must be added that the background score - by Ehsaan and Zubin, supported excellently with vocals by Chetan Shashital - is integral to the buildup in the ad.
Interestingly, this is the second commercial in as many years that looks at durability in furniture - or the lack of it - from the 'suicide point of view'. Last year, a little-seen film for Peacock Chairs (created by Manish Bhatt and B Raghu of Ambience-Publicis) used the noir genre to sell the brand's 'long-lasting chairs' proposition. That ad was about this man who uses a Peacock chair as a prop to hang himself. Even as the man's convulsions set in, the super goes: 'Use them till you die.'
Returning to the Fevicol 'suicide' ad, in the final analysis, it is the intrigue and irony in the ad - captured wonderfully on film by Prasoon Pandey - that makes it watchable. The intrigue stems from the reaction that the townspeople display, first when the suicide bid is foiled, then when the man is knocked cold by the falling rafter. Despite appearing to implore the man not to commit suicide, their disappointment at his failure, and subsequently, their matter-of-fact acceptance of his (implied) death makes engaging viewing. "It's almost as if the man has been crying wolf all the time, and the people have come to look at it only as a tamasha," says Avasthi.
And the irony? Ah, it lies in the way the man is first saved by 'no Fevicol'. Then gets done in by it. Â© 2003 agencyfaqs!