Antara Ghosal

Surf Excel Matic: Offering a helping hand

The brand's new campaign shows a boy creating hands for the washing machine, in an effort to relieve his mother of the trouble of removing stains manually

Marrying the brand thought of 'Stains are good if they're for a worthwhile cause' to the product proposition of Surf Excel Matic, the brand's new TVC aims to establish it as a machine specialist detergent, which will remove tough stains in the washing machine itself.

The TVC shows a boy engrossed in creating hands out of sponge for the washing machine at home. He is trying to help his mother, whom he has seen struggling to remove tough stains manually. In the process of creating the hands, the boy stains his clothes and gets very messy. The kid's effort brings a smile on his mother's face, who, however, explains that the machine wouldn't need hands anymore, as she would switch to using Surf Excel Matic. The commercial ends with the tagline -- Surf Excel, daag achchhe hain -- and the logo.

The campaign targets Indian consumers' belief that washing machines are unable to remove tough stains, which require separate pre-treatment or spot treatment. Thus, it aims to establish Surf Excel Matic as a detergent that would guarantee removal of such stains during the regular wash cycle, without needing any manual scrubbing.

Sudhanshu Vats, vice-president -- skin cleansing & homecare, Hindustan Unilever Limited explains, "In India, the concept of special washing powder for machines is not popular. People tend to believe that regular washing powder works well for machines as well. The idea was to address this barrier and educate consumer about special washing powders for washing machines, designed to deliver best results."

The target audience for the brand comprises households in SEC A and B categories who own washing machines, in the top 35 towns with a population of more than 1 million.

The campaign has been created by Lowe Lintas Mumbai. The team that worked on the campaign includes Virat Tandon, executive vice-president; Satish Ramanathan, AVP; Deepali Sharma, senior BSM at client servicing; Devika Sharma and Abhishek Hariharan in planning and Sushant Joshi in creative.

Explaining the creative concept, Arun Iyer, national creative director, Lowe Lintas says, "The thinking was to communicate the functional benefit of the washing machine variant, in a way that it matches the brand idea of 'daag achchhe hain'. It's a simple, child's logic -- the kid feels that my mother uses hands to wash clothes, since the machine doesn't have hands; hence, the solution."

Both the client and the agency hope that this time too, the campaign would generate a favourable response, just like the earlier campaigns of Surf Excel.

Ad achchhi hai?

The ad has generated mixed responses from the fraternity. Some find it entertaining because of its simplicity and innocence; while for others, it appears a little contrived.

"It is an endearing commercial, taking the idea of 'daag achchhe hain' forward. I love it because it reminds me of the innocent mischief my daughter keeps doing," says Sanjib Dey, president, Saatchi & Saatchi, India.

For Sagar Mahabaleshwarkar, NCD at Bates 141, the ad does hold attention, especially at the beginning, when one wonders what the kid is up to. But at the end, the idea doesn't appear very convincing.

"Giving hands to a washing machine can be a nice emotion for a child, but the way the story has been crafted looks a little unbelievable. The situation itself is not natural enough. I feel this is a great brand with great insights. It has done far better films before this; but somehow, I'm not too convinced with this one," he adds.

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