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Tuesday, February 24, 2004

Favourite Ad Campaigns of Shunu Sen

Nice Article .... Marketing ... Advertising ... what not & what not ...
some Gyan ....

My favourite campaigns - Shunu Sen

My favourite brands with which I have had a close acquaintance include Liril, a brand that was conceived by a group of young managers from Hindustan Lever and Lintas nearly 30 years ago. The advertisement created history. The brand became the market leader in its category within a year of its launch.

"You answer so many questions on branding and advertising. Could you tell us about a few of your favourite Indian brands and why you think they are good? What makes them tick and what is their future? And, could you also tell us about brands that you didn't like or you thought were flops?"
- K. Sunita, on e-mail


WHAT an interesting question! And, not very easy to answer. However, let me try and answer this question to the best of my ability.

Let me divide the favourite Indian brands, which I have had something to do with and those which I have admired from afar. My favourite brands with which I have had a close acquaintance include Liril, a brand that was conceived by a group of young managers from Hindustan Lever and Lintas nearly 30 years ago. We were a team appointed by the then Marketing Director, Jagdish Chopra, to create a freshness soap in the premium price segment. Our first attempt was a blue soap with the promise of fresh mountain breeze. This idea did not work too well in research, so, under the guidance of a young British marketing head, we developed and created a green marbled soap with a lemon fragrance. The advertisement, created by Neena Merchant, under the able guidance of Alyque Padamsee, who was then the Creative Director of Lintas, made history, creating the unforgettable image of a bikini-clad girl in green frolicking in a waterfall. No wonder, the brand became the market leader in its category within a year of its launch, overtaking brands such as Cinthol and Mysore Sandal.

My next most favourite brands are market leaders in their respective categories today. Fair and Lovely is one of the largest selling creams in the world, Close Up in the dental gel market, Rin a very successful detergent bar brand and Surf, whose Lalitaji campaign reversed a declining brand share trend. Each of these brands is built on a successful product benefit and a big advertising idea. More importantly, they are all profitable brands which make a significant contribution to the corporate profits.

If I now mention some of the brands with which I have been involved but have not been successful, the name on top of the list would be Le Sancy. This was a brand created on a very successful South American model and offered the consumer great value for money. We launched the brand with an international brand mix, but created an outstanding advertising campaign which was developed by Piyush Pande of O&M. However, the brand mix did not work and in spite of award-winning advertising, it crashed and never recovered. To the best of my knowledge, the brand has now been decently buried.

Now let us consider some of my favourite campaigns with which I have had nothing to do, but wished that I did. Two of my favourite campaigns, which spring to my mind are actually campaigns created for the hoardings. I am sure all of you have guessed the brand names - Amul and Air-India. Amul Butter is a campaign which continues to be topical, funny and yet, adds to the brand values of Amul as a butter brand. I prefer the `Utterly Butterly' line to the more pretentious and less meaningful corporate base line `The taste of India'.

Air-India, particularly in the days of Bobby Kooka, who was the Commercial Director, was an outstanding piece of advertising. Not only was the advertising full of style and panache, but it also gave the brand a unique, attractive and stylish brand image. What is more, in those days, the brand was in congruence with its image. Today, in comparison, the brand advertising is dull as ditchwater, as is the brand itself.

Some of my favourite press advertising is now many years old and I have to search memory hard. Ivan Arthur, now the seniormost creative person in HTA, wrote some wonderful copy for Hamdard in a corporate campaign. I have never seen such good copywriting ever since. Then there was the legendary Frank Simoes who wrote great advertising copy. I remember the immortal campaign for Liberty Shirts and his advertising for BOAC (now BA) that started with the line `Peel me a grape, treat me good, the BOAC way'.

Other outstanding copywriters who did the best advertising in press were people such as Kersey Katrak, who wrote some great copy for an agency called MCM, now long dead (the agency, not Kersey) and Mohammed Khan, who is now the boss at Enterprise Nexus. Mohammed created the Charms brand and the advertising idea behind the brand, making it the last successful cigarette brand launched in the country by a company other than ITC.

Indeed, The Brief, the Bombay magazine for the advertising fraternity has brought out a book on great advertising campaigns. Priced at Rs 1,500, this book showcases some of the best Indian advertising. I suggest this book be recommended reading for all those people who want to see the best in Indian advertising.

So, I would like to end this answer to a question which I really enjoyed receiving by mentioning some of the campaigns currently on air which I really enjoy. If I take liquor advertising, which is currently off air, my favourites were Smirnoff and Bacardi. Both campaigns popularised new product categories besides establishing the brands as category leaders. I like the current Pantene advertising (in spite of the fact that it is a P&G brand!) as also some of the earlier Siyaram campaigns. Last, but not the least, I shall mention that the Maruti advertisement shot in Leh, advertising the width of their service network is good advertising, as were some of the great automobile campaigns created by Equus for Daewoo, alas, another good company which went down the drain.

Why don't you readers send me details of your favourites campaigns? I will publish some of the most popular ones in this column by and by.

(The author is CEO, Quadra Advisory, a strategic marketing consultancy)