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Unpopular opinion on the new Fevicol film

Fevicol’s new film is meant to commemorate 60 years of the brand in India. Let me start with the good - It is heartbreakingly beautifully made. The film’s U-shaped script is brilliant – starts with the sofa’s early days, moves to the latest (most modern) owner… and then goes back in time to the early days, to showcase vignettes of the sofa’s life itself, till it goes back to the point when it was being made by the carpenter!

It’s a lovely film worth watching multiple times, almost like enjoying a good feature film. As always, this hand-crafted, lived-in attention to detail and the expressions used are outstanding – only expected from Ogilvy.

But, I had a more fundamental disconnect with the film.

Fevicol’s earlier communication (and its positioning, always) has been around ‘mazboot jod’ (literally ‘strong joint/bond’). And that positioning helped the brand up their storytelling ante significantly, to move away from wood-based storylines to anything that involves any bond’s strength. So, the brand explored a whole spectrum of bond strength, from unbreakable eggs… to the famous fishing ad.

As a normal user/consumer, I seem to observe more the longevity of wood in the film, than the quality of adhesive used. My reaction is, ‘Wow, where did they get this sofa, man? It just seems to last so long!’.

Yes, I can counter-argue with myself that the film also showcases our, multi-generational bond with a specific piece of furniture and that is the larger (emotional) bond symbolically being depicted in the film as a way to extend it to our bond with Fevicol, over 60 years.

Karthik Srinivasan, independent communications consultant
Karthik Srinivasan, independent communications consultant

Agreed – but, there are enough shots where there is no bond with the sofa too, in the same film. Like the one where it is abandoned in a dilapidated post-earthquake’ish scene.

No… wait, I’m not at all nitpicking.

Because, this crux—furniture that transcends time and generations—seems to fit perfectly for wood brands. If the adhesive claims that the piece of furniture lasts long because of the quality of adhesive, that is not entirely misplaced, but it probably fails to first acknowledge the original claimant of that achievement – the wood that was used. That the wood withstood rain, river, sun, flood, termite, borer etc. and lasted that long is a story that is seen upfront in the film before we get to incidental credits – the carpenter’s craft, the adhesive used etc.

And wood brands have used this script very well. For instance, Greenply has used the theme very, very effectively with superb humor, more than once. Here’s Greenply’s memorable ‘Courtroom’ ad, from 2007 (As far as I know, it was by Lowe Lintas).

And even the other film by Greenply, called Janam Janam Ke Saathi from 2005 was also on a similar thought, and a whole lot funnier! (It’s truly hilarious...)

Going beyond wood brands, another ad I had shared recently also makes the same point very beautifully. The ‘Chair’ ad by insurance brand Travelers.

The Chair acts as the crux, being the silent presence across a person’s life, from childhood to when he becomes an adult and more, including being in an accident (to bring in the insurance angle, of course). In this film, the chair is visibly loved (the last shot is more than obvious), unlike the sofa that is being passed on between generations owing to more perfunctory reasons (the more emotional ones don’t feature in the Fevicol ad). The sofa just happens to be passed on, not necessarily because another person/family sought it by choice, while the people in the chair ad are shown to have realized that they have a deep bond with it.

Incidentally, Travelers is not in the business of making chairs. But the brand beautifully connects the film’s theme in the end with, “We don’t just protect things, we help protect the life you’ve built around them."

In case of Fevicol, the focus on sofa, and not the ‘mazboot jod’ that the product promises (promised… over 60 years), makes me look with awe the quality of wood used in the sofa. And the lack of any visible sign of people-level bond with the sofa (it just is, as a piece of furniture – pun totally unintended) doesn’t in any way accentuate the ‘jod’.

This is bound to sound like an unpopular opinion because I only see one kind of reaction to the film. But this is my opinion after I have seen the film many, many times and questioned myself adequately (I do that very often). I’m not here to change your opinion at all, but merely to offer another point of view. I’m sure both views could exist at the same time, peacefully.

The author, Karthik Srinivasan is an independent communications consultant. He is also the author of the book - Be Social: Building Brand YOU online.

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