Devina Joshi

And now, Amitabh Bachchan to go the Aamir Khan way

Himani Navratna oil’s TVC features the Big B in the avatar of a UP-ite, and future campaigns may see him in the role of a Tamilian, a Bengali, and other regional characters. Coke, anyone?

Brands can never get enough of the Big B. Take Himani Navratna oil, for example. The brand has resurrected Amitabh Bachchan for a second stint in a TVC that has him acting as a quintessential UP-ite.

Himani Navratna was launched in 1991, positioned from the very beginning as a cool oil meant to be a stress-buster. The mid-1990s saw actors Govinda and Rambha endorse the brand (the ‘Thanda Thanda, Cool Cool’ commercials), which enjoyed a high media presence. However, in 2004, Himani executives decided to lend stature and salience to the brand, and roped in the Big B, in the hope that he would break geographical barriers for them and appeal to the masses. Thus followed a commercial which had Bachchan talking into the camera about how the ‘cool’ oil helped him counter stress and headaches in his days of struggle.

And now, Amitabh Bachchan to go the Aamir Khan way
Bachchan shows his boss
the new workplace...
And now, Amitabh Bachchan to go the Aamir Khan way
…scaring him with thoughts
of the workload
And now, Amitabh Bachchan to go the Aamir Khan way
The manager imagines an
ambulance scenario
And now, Amitabh Bachchan to go the Aamir Khan way
Himani Navratna to the rescue
And now, Amitabh Bachchan to go the Aamir Khan way
Product shot
And now, Amitabh Bachchan to go the Aamir Khan way
All’s well that ends well
“That ad did quite well for us,” says Probal Bhattacharya, senior brand manager, Himani Navratna. So, it came as a surprise to watch actor Shah Rukh Khan endorse the brand next in 2006, cast in an ad that mirrored the Bachchan one. “This was done to make the brand even more relevant and full of life to the younger lot,” Bhattacharya remarks. Sadly, the replica communication didn’t work; King Khan failed to appeal to Himani Navratna’s TG: 25-45 year old males.

Having learnt their lesson, the Himani Navratna executives have revived Big B in their communication, as “people still largely associate him with the brand”. However, the company clearly didn’t want another round of Amitabh Bachchan preaching into the camera, which is rampant on television screens these days. “Save for Cadbury’s, few brands have Bachchan actually doing what he is best known for: acting,” asserts Bhattacharya.

In order to bring out the ‘stress buster’ quotient of the brand, Publicis India has conceived an ad that has Bachchan donning the avatar of a personal assistant. The ad opens on a newly-appointed manager entering the office on his first day. Amidst elaborate photo sessions and warm welcomes from his colleagues, the manager is shown to his cabin by his PA (played by Bachchan). Next, Bachchan introduces him to his workplace, showing him his chair and desk. He then asks his boss to look up towards the ceiling, where a telephone number is scribbled. Bachchan introduces that as the number for the ambulance.

Confused, the boss demands an explanation. Speaking in true UP fashion, Bachchan explains that with the big cabin come huge responsibilities. This will lead to a greater workload, which, in turn, will result in high tension (All this while, the files and cupboards in the room are shown to be multiplying at an alarming rate). The manager is then made to understand that such tremendous tension will require him to be admitted into a hospital, hence the ambulance number. Just as the frightened manager imagines himself being taken to the hospital in an ambulance, Bachchan saves the day by offering him a quick-fix relief from day-to-day worries: a bottle of Navratna oil. In a fitting end to the story, the manager is shown relaxing on a makeshift hammock in his office.

The ad has been directed by Rajkumar Hirani of ‘Munnabhai’ fame, and created by Ramanuj Shastry, the agency’s NCD. The Himani Navratna executives expect the ad to fetch a 40 per cent year-on-year increase in sales growth (by the end of the financial year), as opposed to the current 33 per cent.

What’s interesting is that future adverts from Himani Navratna will have Bachchan donning different regional avatars to promote the product. For instance, he is likely to play a Tamilian and a Bengali in the next two commercials. This sounds suspiciously similar to what actor Aamir Khan did for Coca-Cola.

“In a way, our ads are inspired from the Coke series,” admits Bhattacharya. “But I must say, such local flavours give a lot of entertainment value to the masses.” So will we hear the Big B say, ‘Thanda matlab Himani Navratna?’ It’s the ‘thanda thanda, cool cool’ brand, after all.

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