Rashmi Menon

Nerolac's larger than life protection

The recent campaign unveiled by Kansai Nerolac Paints creates awareness about its exterior paint brand Excel with humorous metaphors for protecting homes from nature's harsh elements.

Exaggeration has been a staple ingredient in the making of advertisements. However, the latest campaign of Kansai Nerolac Paints, which shows the "larger than life" avatar of the umbrella, is amusing and absurd in its appeal. However, it clearly makes its point.

Nerolac's larger than life protection
Shot in Jodhpur and a village in Kerala, the television commercial (TVC) shows two house owners going at lengths to ensure their houses are protected from the extreme weather conditions in the two regions. Accompanied by a catchy background song, the TVC shows 60 feet long red and blue umbrellas being taken by large groups of people, while the passers-by watch with surprise and curiosity.

Negotiating the challenging terrain, the people lift the giant umbrella, carefully transporting the object from one rooftop to another in Jodhpur. In Kerala, the umbrella gets a ride on a long river boat. When the umbrellas are safely delivered, they are unfolded and placed above the houses they are meant to shelter from the harsh sun (in Jodhpur) and wet, humid weather (in Kerala) while the owners proudly look on. The comical song with its slow phonetics lingers in the mind and leaves a smile.

Towards the end, the brand's ambassador Shah Rukh Khan says, "Jo bahar ki dewaro pe Nerolac Excel nahi lagayenge, unhe kuch toh lagana padega" (those who have not painted the exterior walls with Nerolac Excel will have to protect their houses in some way).

The campaign, which is Kansai Nerolac's flagship campaign of the year, aims to create awareness about Nerolac Excel's 'weather defence formula' created by its Japanese partner, Kansai.

Nerolac's larger than life protection
Nerolac's larger than life protection
Sukhpreet Singh, vice-president, marketing and sales (decorative), Kansai Nerolac Paints, says the objective of the campaign was to communicate the benefits of the exterior paint with the key aspect being that it protects homes from the vagaries of weather. "When you ask consumers, the main enemies they feel are rain and harsh sunlight. So, the task was that if these two were the main enemies and the paint was the primary defence mechanism, how do we communicate that to the consumers?," Singh says, adding that humour was a value addition with the commercial presenting itself in a pleasing and charming way. "Most shots were candid and you can see the surprised look on people's faces," he reveals.

Ashish Khazanchi, former national creative director, Publicis Ambience (the agency that has created the campaign) adds that the intention was to have a differentiated point of view and message. "We had to come up with an idea that was distinct and also had an element of child like curiosity," Khazanchi says.

The team designed a 60 feet umbrella and in some parts of the film, it was enhanced in the post production stage. However, for most parts of the film, the actual shots were retained. While the actual shooting of the film took just a day-and-a-half, the pre production stage took a lot of time for obvious reasons. "It took 15 days to construct the umbrellas and then send them to two locations. The umbrellas were heavy considering they were made of solid wood with a huge amount of cloth. Due to this, we had to make alterations at the location. For instance, there were houses in Jodhpur, which couldn't have taken the umbrella's weight. In Kerala, we had to revise and change the boat to ensure it could carry the weight," recalls Khazanchi.

Using SRK sparingly was also intentional. Khazanchi explains that SRK was used judiciously only to bring in a voice of sanity and make Nerolac's point of view.

As for the background song, it was written by Khazanchi, who says he wanted a sufi kind of soundtrack to the ridiculous song that was an ode to the umbrella. Bollywood composer Pankaj Awasthi composed and lent his voice to the commercial.

While the campaign will run for the entire year, an edited version of the TVC will be shown in different regions. In fact, the film, which is in Hindi, is being dubbed in Malayalam, Tamil, Telugu and Bengali. The TVC has been directed by Eric Morales and produced by Earlyman Film.

Besides television, the campaign is being supported by print and radio. The brand has also invested in digital, where it launched the campaign's teasers first before taking it on TV. "We used digital to crate anticipation for the campaign. It's a great medium to leverage curiosity and build interest in your campaign. Also, once the campaign begins, you get reactions to it online, especially the social medium," Singh says.

Digital also sustains the campaign when the TVCs are reduced and helps the brand get actual leads. According to Singh, besides consumers, the online campaign reaches influencers like painters, contractors, architects and designers.

Kansai Nerolac is a 90-year-old brand that has pan India presence but enjoys higher market share in the North and eastern part of India. It is the second largest paint company in the country and a leader in the industrial segment.

Discussing some of the brand's challenges, Singh says, "Our first challenge is to be a step ahead of the evolving consumers; not to react but to predict and do something before the consumer feels the lack of it. Secondly, being a heritage brand, we need to remain young, vibrant and relevant for today's crowd. Thirdly, the business challenge of reach and rural level penetration."

Guarded appeal

Nerolac's larger than life protection
Nerolac's larger than life protection
Manish Bhatt, founder director, Scarecrow Communications, believes that the execution and the music makes the campaign clutter breaking despite a basic idea that is simplistic, playing on the metaphor of the umbrella being used for protection. "Ten years ago, no one would have thought of making such kind of ads but nowadays, ambient ideas are being converted into ad films. This is one of those efforts," he says. Bhatt also stresses that in order for people to remember the ad, the brand will have to leverage the TVC idea by doing other activities that complement the commercial.

For Nima Namchu, executive creative director, Cheil Worldwide, the first half of the film is quite intriguing and does arouse some interest. "When I saw the umbrella being transported, I sort of had the inkling that the message would have something to do with protection from the elements. It's a visually strong film, different from other brands in terms of execution and will be remembered," Namchu says.

While he admits that the music does stand out, he would have preferred the brand's signature tune. "In a category in which the communication is not very differentiated, the old jingle worked to make sure that the commercial was not mistaken to be that of another high spending competitor. So, my thought was, 'Why drop something that works?' Also, I think the signature refrain in this jingle comes in rather clumsily," Namchu opines.