Aquaguard: Owning the high ground of purity

By , agencyfaqs! | In | June 07, 2004
Water treatment brand Aquaguard makes a departure from its traditional problem-solution advertising format by focusing on the spiritual significance of pure water

Aquaguard advertising, since its inception, has perpetually focused on spelling out the functional benefits of water purification, using the classic problem-solution-happiness format that is routine to Eureka Forbes. And true to most Eureka Forbes communication, the advertising for Aquaguard has always revolved around the affable Eureka Forbes salesman's knock on a prospective customer's door. So much so that the Eureka Forbes salesman and the problem-solution format have virtually become intrinsic to Aquaguard advertising.

Which is why the latest television commercial for the home water treatment system brand comes as something of a surprise. For although the ubiquitous salesman still has a token presence at the end of the ad (he serves as a "response mechanism" for potential consumers, Eureka Forbes reasons), the new Aquaguard film marks a distinct departure from the company's tried-and-trusted problem-solution format - by moving into the broader, quasi-philosophical sphere of the life-enriching connotations of water.

At the surface level, the montage commercial - created by Triton Communications and directed by BharatBala Productions - is about the ceremonial role that clean water plays in religious ritual. So you have shots of pure water being distilled from an Aquaguard, interspaced with images of the devout engaging in various rituals linked to water. A child being baptized; a mother and daughter pouring water on a tulsi plant; people from different faiths performing ablutions and drinking sacred water… Everything linked to the symbolism of pure water in religion.

However, at a deeper level, the communication is about the sanctity of pure water itself - as a cleanser of the mind, body and soul, and as a giver of life. In fact, the austere and evocative soundtrack (beautifully composed by Vishal Bharadwaj, and rendered brilliantly by Sanjeev Abhyankar) that runs all through the commercial underscores the spiritual significance of water, embodied in the line, 'Yeh jal amrut hai. Dhan hai. Jeevan hai.' So, in some ways, the actual leap that Aquaguard advertising has taken is not so much in terms of execution or treatment, but in going beyond just purity, and focusing on the sanctity of water.

The reasons for Aquaguard taking its communication to the next level are not hard to fathom. Having pioneered the concept of water treatment systems in India some 20 years ago, Aquaguard today enjoys the distinction of being near generic to the category, and is freely equated with safe, potable water. The idea, in the words of Jayesh Ravindranath, executive director, Triton Communications, is to "now own the high ground of safety and purity in people's minds, not subliminally, but in a lucid and overt manner".

While Aquaguard is clearly in a position to appropriate the category promise of purity in as broad a manner as possible, the communication objective here is also to fortify the brand's leadership position in the market by putting some distance between Aquaguard and the competition. "While Aquaguard had the vision and created the category out of thin air, the brand's success has spawned quite a few me-toos," Ravindranath points out. Competition for Aquaguard primarily exists in the form of one large national-level brand (KenStar), a couple of regional brands and a handful of local players. Aquaguard, for the record, has a 65 per cent market share in the Rs 350-crore top-end online electric water purifier market.

"The need was to keep Aquaguard as distinct from the competition, and advertising is a huge factor in creating differentiation," Ravindranath points out. "The brief that evolved from the communication review we had with the client was that we had to take advantage of Aquaguard being synonymous with safe water to own the category. The task also involved establishing a distinction in the consumer's mind, and seeing if we could bring out the 'water is life' association in a vivid manner."

Eureka Forbes' decision to do away with the problem-solution format and appropriate the category by doing 'feel-based advertising' is rooted in the fact that the concept of water purifiers has been sold to a considerable extent, making 'educative communication' less imperative. But, perhaps more importantly for the company, the basic purpose of advertising is only to generate awareness. "In our system of selling directly to the consumer, the focus is on customization, as per consumer needs," says SK (Bal) Palekar, senior vice-president, marketing & knowledge management, Eureka Forbes. "So when I advertise on television, I can't be specific about models, as I can't say which product of mine will talk to which consumer. Also, Aquaguard no longer needs to display its credentials while talking to the consumer. So we said, why not go away from feature-based communication, as this is something the salesman can deliver. Instead, through advertising, we are looking at owning the category at the highest level - water so pure, it's fit for the gods."

The creative linkage between Aquaguard and religion came from the knowledge that water has strong spiritual and religious connotations, especially in Asia, Ravindranath explains. "Pure, clean water is equated with purification, life, wealth and nature's bounty, and the challenge was to put this thought into effective words and images," he says.

Speaking about the creative idea, Renton D'Sousa, executive creative director, Triton Communications, who scripted the film, says, "The idea of doing this film for Aquaguard has been with me for the past two years, and I was dying to do it. The creative idea of water being fit for the gods fitted in very well, as the innermost cleansing part of any religion has to do with water. Also, going to the Aquaguard every morning is in some ways like visiting a temple. Aquaguard is a giver and we are the receivers of purity. The basic advantage of owning the high ground of purity is that it forces the competition to speak rationally, which will suddenly make them look quite pedestrian."

Interestingly, Eureka Forbes' Palekar reveals that the new film will be followed by a "rational film" that would talk about features such as 'e-boiling'. "For many consumers, boiling water continues to be a rational argument, and we want to communicate the superior speed, convenience and safety guarantee of e-boiling that Aquaguard offers," he says. He adds that the feature-driven film will run in tandem with the new 'feel' film. "The rational approach, a feel-based communication and the customization push by the salesman will constitute the three components of our marketing efforts," Palekar concludes. © 2004 agencyfaqs!

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