Suraj Ramnath

Yet again, Lowe Mumbai creates Ramadan ad for Surf Excel Pakistan

The broad theme is the same as last year's. This time, though, it's called #NekiEkIbadat.

Remember the 2016 Ramadan ad by Surf Excel Pakistan that crossed a million views in less than a week? This Ramadan too, Arun Iyer's team at Lowe Lintas, Mumbai, has created a campaign for the brand. Titled #NekiEkIbadat, the ad is along very similar lines as last year's ad - a little boy goes out of his way to help someone and of course, soils his kurta in the bargain.

Yet again, Lowe Mumbai creates Ramadan ad for Surf Excel Pakistan
The ad was published on YouTube on May 27 and crossed a million views in less than two days. It has been directed by Vasan Bala (who directed last year's Ramadan film too) and produced by Absolute Productions.
Yet again, Lowe Mumbai creates Ramadan ad for Surf Excel Pakistan
Talking about the challenges, Arun Iyer, chairman and chief creative officer, Lowe Lintas, says, "Last year was the first time we did the Ramzan ad campaign, so there were no expectations then. This time around, there was pressure and a certain expectation because of what last year's campaign had become and the fact that it went viral. So we decided to park all that pressure aside and thought... let's do justice to the festival and the brand, and the rest is something that is serendipity. If it happens, great, and if it doesn't then we can't do much about it."
Yet again, Lowe Mumbai creates Ramadan ad for Surf Excel Pakistan
The brand's tagline for the last few years has been, 'Daag Ache Hain' and both the Ramadan ads have also focused on goodness. We asked Iyer if the tagline itself barricades creativity since words like 'madad' and 'neki' come under a similar zone.

He says, "No, nothing like that. See, 'Daag Ache Hain' is a broad enough platform. We are doing 'goodness to others' through this campaign, we have done 'learnings of life' and we have done 'demonstrating of great values'. So it's a broad enough platform. We have to keep the brand, the essence of the brand and the cultural truth about the festival in mind, so it is the combination of all three that leads us to do something like this. There is a cultural reality to Pakistan and to the festival and to what people think around the festival and we had to keep all those things in mind."

We asked our digital experts to compare Surf Excel's 2016 and 2017 ads. This is what they had to say...

Yet again, Lowe Mumbai creates Ramadan ad for Surf Excel Pakistan
Yet again, Lowe Mumbai creates Ramadan ad for Surf Excel Pakistan
Carlton D'Silva, chief executive officer and chief creative officer, Hungama Digital Services, says, "Although both the ads are very similar, I prefer the execution and storyline of this ad... it's sweet... tugs at your heart strings and speaks about the true nature of the festival."

Mark McDonald, head of creative - Mumbai, DigitasLBi India, a digital agency from the house of Publicis Sapient, says, "It's always tough to do a follow up of a popular, well liked ad, but I think Surf Excel has done a decent job. Keep in mind that for consumers, it's been be year since they saw the last ad, so I'd evaluate it on its own merits first. And I think the new commercial presses all the right buttons in terms of execution and casting and holds its own."

He adds, "Personally, I think the original edges out the new commercial, purely from the perspective of the situation chosen. I think helping out the samosa cart vendor in the manner in which the kids did, was a nice, relatable way to bring in the aspect of stains. But there's not much difference between the two. I think this is a good follow-up."

The idea and insight are pretty much the same across both films. It's almost like flogging the same theme - 'madad', 'neki' - both are in a very similar zone, feel some experts. Is this inevitable? Is it a case of being bound by the brief? Does the tagline itself barricade creativity or could the team have stretched the envelope more?

D'Silva says, "Well it is but another interpretation of the topic... when you listen to a song, you don't like it because it's a love song, you do because it's a unique expression of a love song... the same is the case here."

McDonald says, "Given the context and occasion, you're bound to play within the same areas creatively, and that's not necessarily a bad thing. With Surf's overall positioning of 'Daag Acche Hain', I don't think the brief would be limiting in that respect. Of course, if I see something very similar next year, then I would start to question the need for a fresh perspective. But as of now, I think the second rendition of Surf Excel's Ramzan ad is a good follow-up and does the job."

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