Shreyas Kulkarni

Asian Paints' new ad lures the price-conscious middle class…

… To make their walls shine at an affordable price.

When you’re a 78-year-old company, you tend to branch out from your core offering. Asian Paints is primarily known for manufacturing, selling and distributing paints. But, it’s also in the business of home decor, bath fittings, waterproofing, sanitisation, among other offerings.

A Rs 19,000-crore business, Asian Paints today caters to not only different sectors, but also different consumers as and when the need arises. Let’s take two recent examples.

When the Coronavirus pandemic-induced lockdown raged across India, hygiene and sanitisation were on everybody’s mind. Asian Paints entered the hand and surface sanitiser category in May with Viroprotek. Speaking about it, MD and CEO Amit Syngle told us (afaqs!) in June, “It came at the behest of the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Chemicals.”

He continued, “It (the ministry) requested Asian Paints to do something, apart from contributing to the Chief Minister’s and Prime Minister’s relief funds, to aid the government, NGOs and hospitals, in terms of getting products like sanitisers into the market. That was the trigger – the ministries getting after us. This was around April 18, 2020.”

More recently, in August, we saw the launch of Asian Paints Beautiful Homes Service, “an exclusive end-to-end solution that provides consumers a personalised interior design service with professional execution to create their dream home their way.” This was also when India was in `unlock’ mode.

A new ad campaign for Asian Paints’ Ace Shyne range of paints, made by Ogilvy, is aimed at India’s middle class, who believe in being seen as ‘doing good in life’, but is very price-conscious. Poor `Chintu’, the ad’s protagonist, has to make up stories to explain why his house’s walls shine so much. It’s because of Ace Shyne that offers splendid shine for walls at an affordable price.

The campaign’s release date is close to Diwali, which signals the start of the country’s festival period that goes on till the year-end. Consumers are more liberal with their purses at this time than at any other time of the year.

But, this is not an ordinary year. The Coronavirus and the subsequent lockdowns crippled consumer demand and worsened the already weak economy. According to the Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE), "India’s real GDP declined y-o-y by 23.9 per cent in the quarter ended June 2020, reversing the economy back to its 2014 quarterly level of less than Rs 27 trillion."

We wondered if the ad campaign would move the consumers to invest in painting their walls or home, especially in the present economic scene.

Lloyd Mathias, a business strategist and former marketer at HP, Motorola and PepsiCo, said, “While the pandemic may have taken a toll on the economy, it is not as if everyone will put their home painting plans off.” He added that he doesn’t see an issue with either the timing or the messaging of this ad.

Lloyd Mathias
Lloyd Mathias

“As a market leader, it is natural for Asian Paints to take the lead in cueing usage,” remarked Mathias. He says it’s a great ad that demonstrates the value proposition of Ace Shyne emulsion– that is meant to look good, but is not as expensive as you thought it would.

“It is timed with the pre-festive and post-monsoon season, when many middle class homes think about redecorating their homes with a fresh coat of paint.”

Neeraj Sharma, planning head, Rediffusion, says that the pandemic divided the world into haves and have nots, across strata and class. The haves brought the automobile sector almost back to where it was.

Neeraj Sharma
Neeraj Sharma

And, with government's intervention, good monsoon and less affliction of COVID, “the rural sector, for the first time in many years, is doing better than urban centres. With disposable income at hand, it makes sense to target them.”

With Diwali around the corner, a “sizeable population will try to instil hope through the colours of their walls.” Sharma found nothing new about the ad’s message and “the shine in this category always works anyway.”

“With just 15 seconds at hand, it (Asian Paints) wanted to be focused with a single message and it makes sense. I trust the brand and agency team to deliver what was the business need at this hour,” Sharma signed off.

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