Sumita Vaid

Happydent White: Guaranteeing a 1,000 watt smile

The Happydent ad by McCann-Erickson takes brand positioning to new heights

Imagine, what all sparkling-like-diamonds teeth can do? Attract the opposite sex. Now, that is such a jaded idea. Attract the same sex? That's a bright idea but politically dangerous. Never mind. Let McCann-Erickson, which created the new Happydent White ad, have its say. How 'bout teeth working as a camera flash?

Now, that's quirky, very quirky. Happydent White's brand positioning is different from its peer group “ to say the least. Here is how the ad goes: A cameraman with handle-bar moustache and a red bow asks a village belle to pose before the camera in his studio. It is one of those cameras of yesteryears where the photographer's head disappears under the black cloth and the flash had an existence independent of the camera.

As the shoot progresses, the model, who is by now tired of striking different poses, requests the cameraman to stop. "Ab bas ji (please, it is enough), she says. He, however, requests her for one more picture. Before taking his last shot, the cameraman, tilts the face of a man, standing beside the camera. This man, who looks like an assistant, pops something in his mouth and starts chewing with a deadpan expression.

As the photographer shouts "Ismile, the assistant skins his teeth, to unleash a glare. It was this brightness of his teeth that was working as the flash for the camera all this while! The ad ends with the voice-over saying "Happydent White. Smile please.

Absurdity, according to the agency, had to be at the heart of the communication to make the whole act of cleaning teeth a fun activity. And, on a scale of 10, Happydent scores 13.3. Just being absurd!

"India is not a country of oral dental hygiene. It is a land of pan-eaters. So people here believe more in the act of purging, like rinsing the mouth, doing kullas, but not in the act of cleaning. Therefore, the primary task was to make cleaning teeth an involving and interesting activity and not therapeutic in nature, explains Prasoon Joshi, regional CD, South & South East Asia, McCann-Erickson.

However, given the fact that most adult Indians have their own set of dental care habits, suggesting an alternative to shining teeth besides a tooth-paste/tooth-powder did not seem very agreeable.

But the makers of Happydent White, Perfetti Van Melle, sensed an affinity between Indian youth and the gum. That, coupled with the fact that by virtue of being a gum, Happydent White conveyed 'energy' and 'fun'.

While several creative ideas were considered, the 'idea bulb' flashed during the shoot of another commercial. "We were struggling to get just the right idea that will work with the youth. And, it happened to me during the shooting of another commercial, says Joshi.

The good part was the idea was so quirky that it got instant approval from the client. And in just two days, the entire film was shot.

Execution of the ad, in particular, needed attention for the absurdity to surface well. "Special attention was paid to the execution. We stayed away from the clichéd urban imagery, the exotica that most Indian ads are inundated with, Joshi points out.

The ad marks a deliberate departure from the 'I -love-my-country' kind of ads because of palpable fatigue among the youth about such ads. Therefore while quirkiness had to be youthful, it had to be in sync with the grammar of the youth's language.

"In this ad, we have developed a distinct style of rendition. The ad has fewer dialogues, no loud music, but yet loaded with the Indian metaphor. The cut-outs of the Bollywood actors and the whole setting of the ad is very Indian in a youthful way, stresses Joshi.

The marketer is certainly banking on the quirkiness of the ad to push the product in the consideration set. Company executives claim that Happydent White has been tested in the University of Zurich and its regular consumption can actually reduce dental plaque. Perhaps, this functional aspect packaged with dollops of quirkiness may get the youth smiling.

© 2005 agencyfaqs!

Have news to share? Write to us