Abid Hussain Barlaskar

‘Dabangg’ star Salman Khan dances to new ‘Fevicol Se’ tune for Emami’s Navratna Oil

This summer’s ‘Thanda Thanda Cool Cool’ ad comes with a ‘Chamatkaari Champi’ proposition. Emami Navratna's new TVC seems like an item number straight of a Salman Khan movie.

Rahaat Raja, the icon of Emami’s hair oil brand Navratna, literally translates to ‘relief king’. The brand just replaced its last Rahaat Raja (Amitabh Bachchan) with Salman Khan. The Emami team suggests that the Navratna-Sallu combo will help it take its messaging to not just cities, but also the deeper pockets of the country.

Crafted by Publicis India, the TVC is as Salman-like as it gets. Shot in a very Dabangg-ish set, the musical is laden with Salman’s quirky dance moves, and has an iteration of the hit track ‘Fevicol Se’ from ‘Dabangg 2’ as the background score. Unsurprisingly, the moves have been choreographed by Mudassar Khan, the choreographer for Salman starrers like ‘Dabangg’, ‘Ready’, ‘Bodyguard’, etc. The ad film has been directed by Nitesh Tiwari. Salman’s other big-ticket endorsements in recent times include Pepsi and realme smartphones.

"It was a like a carnival during the shoot.”
Ajay Gahlaut

“Salman brought alive his full star power and we got full bang for our our buck. It was a like a carnival during the shoot,” says Ajay Gahlaut, CCO and MD, Publicis Worldwide India.

Ajay Gahlaut
Ajay Gahlaut

With this, Salman joins the long list of Navratna’s celeb endorsers. The list includes Amitabh Bachchan, Shilpa Shetty, Shahrukh Khan, Govinda, Rambha, Shruti Haasan, Chiranjeevi and Jr NTR. Some of these endorsements were for Navratna’s brand extensions, like talcum powder and almond hair oil.

In a previous interview with afaqs!, Emami’s director Harsh Vardhan Agarwal had talked about the cool oil market in India being dominated by unorganised local players. By involving celebrities, Emami was able to carve out a national brand in the space.

Although primarily a hair oil brand, Navratna has also been highlighted as a remedy for bodyache, stress, etc., in the ad. Apart from the ‘relief’ proposition, it also drives home ‘Chamatkari Champi’, Emami’s own version of the ‘champi’ head massage – a traditional practice heavily marketed by one of Navratna’s indirect rivals, Parachute coconut oil from Marico. Among Marico’s most recent ‘champi’ initiatives include Parachute’s #ChampiBeats campaign on TikTok.

Gahlaut says that the idea of ‘Chamatkari Champi’ came first, followed by the song choice. “We needed something peppy which would complement Salman’s star power.”

Now, turning to the background score, Emami’s riding the ‘Dabangg’ wave is interesting. In 2010, the company had sued Dabangg’s producers for using the pain relief balm’s brand name ‘Zandu Balm’ in the film’s popular item number ‘Munni Badnaam Hui’. The matter was amicably settled in 2013. Also, it’s worth noting that the song in question for the new Navratna commercial (‘Fevicol Se’) was part of a marketing deal between Fevicol’s owner Pidilite Industries and Dabangg’s production company Arbaaz Khan Productions.

The ad was obviously produced before the lockdown and the song and dance might seem untimely in the times of social distancing. However, it is worth noting that the ad film is a summer-focused communication, and so is the product.

“It was crafted much before the lockdown and the launch has been waiting for a while. It is something really unprecedented, and everyone was trying to understand the situation and work a way around it. Summer is a larger season for a cooling product. Although it was done well in time, if people can’t step out of homes, it becomes difficult to sell, and so the client (Emami) decided to hold the release till now,” Gahlaut signs off.

Experts speak:

Pradyumna Chauhan, creative consultant

Overall, the ad delivers on the brand promise and is well made, too. Today, Salman is probably the only celebrity who reaches the optimum number of people. He makes the brand younger.

Pradyumna Chauhan
Pradyumna Chauhan

Despite being in the same landscape, brands sometimes have different tonality and language. Say, when Parachute, which is also a hair oil brand, does a campaign, it’s reaching out with a very different tonality. Emami is continuing what has, perhaps, worked for it in terms of marketing. This is more of a continuation of the tone of a brand. Both are very different and distinctive tones.

Parachute’s ‘champi’ is more intimate and individual in nature. Although Parachute has its own interesting narrative, ‘champi’ is synonymous with the Indian way of applying oil and can’t be appropriated by one brand alone. Parachute’s ‘1 Hour Champi’ is more directed towards people who’re running late for work. The ‘champi’ in Navratna’s case is more about getting relief and coolness from the oil, and is just a practice. Both are different formulas.

Also, both these brands are reaching out to a different target audiences, who might vary socially and economically. Given the population, social strata and economic sections that we have, another brand, with its own formula of connecting with people, can mention it as a part of its own communication.

Songs need familiarity in advertising and it is better to not rely on an original track. The track (‘Fevicol Se’ from ‘Dabangg 2’) in a way is already part of popular culture. Crafting an all original track is risky and could be either a hit or miss.

Karthik Srinivasan, communication consultant

The new ad is much more in character and better framed than some of the earlier 'Thanda Thanda Cool Cool' films. For the intended target audience, the choice of Salman and the dhinchak song it appropriates, works very well – the brand reaps instant familiarity. It's just that it is unusual to see an ad with no social distancing and face masks, even as many brands and agencies are producing the new-normal ad films shot inside homes, amidst extreme constraints. I'm assuming this was shot before the lockdown.

Karthik Srinivasan
Karthik Srinivasan

That's one of the biggest problems with the ad film, as I see it. We have all changed a bit/lot in the past 40-50 days of lockdown and the issues associated with it. To release a new film that doesn't take any cognizance whatsoever to that, as if it just jumped off another planet... seems really odd and out of place.

Navratna’s use of ‘champi’ isn’t out of place. The brand has been harping on ‘champi’, too, to a different audience and with a different framing. For instance, it did have the Bachchan-led ‘champi’ song two years ago.

Parachute's 'champi' has a very feminine outlook, while Navratna's evokes a very barbershop, rural male outlook. Both play to very different audiences, and very successfully.