It shows the relationship a woman shares with her hair in long-form Hindi poetry which is a change from the usual short and snappy English ads.
Parachute Advansed, the premium hair oil brand from Marico, has released a new ad titled 'Mere Baal, Meri Jaan'. But, it doesn't look like a regular hair oil ad. For starters, there's no demonstration of the product being used. Second, we don't have anyone, or any voice, in the end, telling us about its benefits.
'Yeh joh toot ke gira hai, yeh zameen pe mera dil pada hai. Inhe baal mat kehna.'
This is the line that greets us when the ad starts. And, for the next two minutes, we get to listen to a poem which describes the complex and deep connect a woman has with her hair.
The entire ad is filled with scenes which depict this complex, yet indescribable relationship. We see a woman smiling as her hair flutters in front of her face due to the wind. Then, we see another woman dancing without a care in the world in the rain, with her open hair all drenched. There's a woman with curly hair bouncing on her shoulders as she climbs up the stairs. And, there's a cancer survivor whose face begins to light up when she touches her hair regrowth for the first time.
The ad depicts diverse women who share one common bond - their hair is their identity.
A scene in the ad that stands out is the one involving the cancer survivor. We see this woman in blue hospital robes, a cancer survivor by the looks of it, who's touching her short hair. Her expression reveals her surprise when her hand touches her new hair for the first time. Of all the joyful scenes in the ad, this one was a bit serious, but made an interesting point.
This scene took us back to the middle of the previous decade when Dabur had come out with its 'Brave and Beautiful' campaign. That ad showed a woman who's returning to normal life after cancer and is concerned about her baldness. The campaign was a tribute to female cancer survivors. In both the ads, hair is the protagonist.
There is another compelling aspect of the Parachute Advansed ad: The poem. Long-form Hindi copywriting has been missing from today's ads because urban audiences tend to consume their content in English. Ad lengths have shortened and so has the attention span of viewers.
Rohit Devgun, ECD, Team WPP, which created the ad, says his team created the ad in such a way that it could be cut into shorter versions. The team is doing shorter versions for TV and Instagram, and those who want to enjoy the complete poetry can watch the longer version.
Devgun also thinks it's not about the language of the ad, but the idea and thought. "We should connect to her in her own language, Hindi, English or whichever," he said. When probed about the writing, he said, "Everything stemmed from the strategy. We realised that hair is also what makes a woman who she is. Her hair defines her. They are part of her identity. So, we wanted to tell her that in the simplest possible manner."
"In doing so, we refrained from two things. One, we thought it would be nice to show hair and beauty in a more real manner, as against done up and cosmetic or brushed up way. The idea required that."
Devgun continued, "Second, we wanted to look at beauty from a woman’s point of view. When we talk about beauty, it's mostly from a male POV (Bollywood songs, for instance) and that is not always cool. So, we got into her shoes and wrote it that way. We are all brought up on a heavy dosage of male POV when it comes to beauty descriptions, but if we are saying hair defines her, we have to vibe with her own thoughts."
That being said, it was refreshing to see an ad with long-form Hindi copywriting after quite a while.
The last time we saw such an ad was for Britannia Good Day. It depicted the life of a Royal Indian guard at India Gate (New Delhi) and his observations of the life around him.
Another ad, of course, belongs to Amul and its classic 'The Taste of India' copy. It's a song that is still enshrined in many people's minds.
All these ads are memorable because of their copywriting, which effectively drills the messaging into our minds. In the case of Parachute Advansed, the last line, 'Yeh baal nahi hai, yeh main hu', says it all.