ZEITLINES | 04.18.19
What makes a household name? Is it a delicious product like McDonalds, a viral dance like Shiggy, a babyface like Bieber, or a powerful position like Obama? To go even further, what makes a household name globally recognized?
The world is filled with fascinating stories, people, and brands, existing in their own pockets of culture, and others pervading across borders. This week, the whole world felt the grief and shock to see the historic and beautiful Notre Dame Cathedral ablaze in Paris, a tourist destination and sacred religious site visited by millions of people from across the globe every year. In this case, its beauty and significance in history, regardless of a person’s religion, heritage, or language, makes Notre Dame a household name that everyone understands and cherishes. But not all household names are built alike, and some find their ways into culture in fortuitous and charming ways. On this week’s Zeitlines, Account Manager Genevieve Raveau zeros in on how a carpenter’s glue became a household name in India, and the power of advertising shaping a brand’s position in Indian culture.
Enjoy the long weekend and happy reading.
Dum Laga Ke Haisha
Genevieve Raveau, Account Manager
How an Indian white glue brand became a household name
As I turn a year older this week, I looked back at my nostalgic memories as a kid growing up in India. Amidst all the culture, trends and all things 90s, I remembered Fevicol! While this name might be unfamiliar to you, back in India, everyone – both in rural and urban regions – recognizes the name. A simple white adhesive, Fevicol became so famous over the years that Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi referred to it while commenting on the strong bond between Japan and India on his tour to Japan in 2014, and Bollywood released a famous song titled ‘Fevicol Se’ (With Fevicol) in one of its blockbuster movies. So, how did a brand traditionally targeted at carpenters, make its way into the Indian vocabulary as a generic word for bonding?
While advertising has evolved immensely over the past few decades, there was a time when TV ads had the power to transform a brand into a household name, igniting tremendous brand recall. Ogilvy & Mather (South Asia) had been working with Fevicol since the 70s, but it was in 1989 when Piyush Pandey took over the creative direction of the account that Fevicol was propelled to the centre stage with the ‘Dum laga ke haisha’ (Put your strength, like this) ad. The ad depicted two groups of people and then an elephant trying and failing to separate two pieces of wood, which were stuck by Fevicol. From here, Fevicol’s ads took a creative turn and its slogan became so famous that an Indian movie was named after it.
In a span of 20 years, O&M and Fevicol won 99 awards (Abby, Cannes, Clio, Asian Ad Awards) for their creative ads. These ads have made their way into my fond childhood memories and they continue to fascinate me. So, I delved a little deeper to see what elements made them stand out.
Brand Name: Fevicol, a product of Pidilite Industries Limited, was first launched and marketed in India in 1959. Few brands enjoy the status of being synonymous with the category of product they represent. Fevicol is one such brand.
Brand Logo: The logo of Fevicol, taken from its elephant advert, has become so famous in India that Fevicol doesn’t have to display its name on screen to be recognized.
Target Audience: Initially, Fevicol was targeted towards carpenters, becoming famous through word of mouth publicity due to the product’s consistent focus on quality. The first ads centred on the use of the glue to stick wooden items. They later extended their target audience to include middle-class urban families.
The Concept: Fevicol obtains its ideas from simple, day to day observations. For example, take their Cannes Lion-winning bus ad. The ad shows an overcrowded rickety bus on a bumpy road with people precariously perched from every nook and corner of the bus. There is no loud music, no melodious jingle, no dialogues and no witty one liner. Just ‘Fevicol’ is advertised on the back of the bus.
Prasoon Pandey of Corcoise Films who shot this ad tells us, “The campaign was a true representation of observation method delivering consumer insights. When in school, we used to travel through Jaisalmer in the bus crushed between people and their trunks, and at times even their poultry. The insight was this strange human bonding. The ad clicked and the rest is history.“
Creativity: As all successful ad campaigns, Fevicol’s was well-known for its creativity. The hen and the egg advertisement was so creative that it not only made its viewers laugh but also won an award at Cannes.
Taglines: Products or brands usually stick to just one tag line that endorses them. For example, Nike (Just Do It), Apple (Think different), M & M Candies (Melts in your mouth, not in your hands). Fevicol uses numerous tag lines, all with the same idea of creating a strong bond. These taglines are witty and written in Hindi, thereby showing the world that Fevicol is an Indian product.
Characters: O&M stayed true to creating videos from spontaneous ideas that pop up during a common day in India. These included using local characters such as a rural fisherman, Rajasthani bus travelers, pundits, middle-class school girls and even animals and birds, as compared to other brands who used celebrities. The audience related more to these people who seemed just like them.
Humour: A common element in every Fevicol ad was the use of humour. “The earthy humour in Fevicol ads brings a smile to everyone’s face. The ads have even made our other clients think of life beyond selling products and ending up connecting with the audience better,” notes Pandey. Fevicol’s witty ads succeeded in winning many hearts over the years.
Pidilite Managing Director Madhukar B Parekh states, “Ads don’t increase usage, they mainly generate demand. The habit of using the product increases with other activities. We made the products available to anyone who wanted to stock them, and not just our distributors, as it gained popularity.”
Pidilite not only succeeded in creating a pull for the white glue in hardware stores, but also took the brand into stationery shops and schools. 60 years later, Fevicol still holds the title of No. 1 adhesive in Asia.
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