While watching the movie, ‘Cheeni Kum’, I saw an ad on ‘Fair & Lovely Menz Active’ launched recently! That made an instant connection for me and I was nostalgic about an encounter I had with the movie’s director, ‘adman Balky’ during my early days of journalism…
As a business journalist, press meets, seminars and product launches were daily bread for me. After a while, they lulled me into a trance. Day in and day out, it would be – “So and So Pvt. Ltd launches an ultra new product with extra new features; it is so unique that it gives you an out of the world experience!”
In a brand management seminar, various issues like celebrity endorsements, employee referrals, brand dilution, core competency, thinking out of the box, etc, were talked being about. After two drowsy lectures, the third speaker was good enough make me sit up and notice. He was the renowned creative director Mr.Balkrishnan of O&M or ‘adman Balky’ as he was popularly called. He was talking about how to solve a problem in advertising a product. When he said, “If your client has a problem, rejoice, you have business”, everybody straightened their ears.
As a typical example he took out his campaign on ‘Fair & Lovely’ TV commercial, where a dark girl is crying over her fate and after using the cream, life changes dramatically. He said his client HLL came over to him and told about their problem of deteriorating sales, despite a great brand recall. He thought about an idea how dark girl is always cursed by her parents about not being good enough to get a guy. How the so called ‘Jaathak’ of a dark girl never changes.
This concept was very well highlighted and the TV ad was so well received that Fair and Lovely sales zoomed up. But soon all women organisations went up in arms against it and his team had to change the strategy next time. He quoted his ‘Fair & Lovely Dark Circles’ ad (that cute girl saying “matching not matching!”) was brought in to pacify the moralistic hypocrite women’s lib brigade.
After the lecture, I posed him a query, “Does the product live up to the awesome claims of your commercial?” He asked me, “Do you use Fair & Lovely?” I said no. He said “Use it and you will know the difference!” The audience had a good laugh at my expense.
I came back wondering why don’t all dark coloured women in this world use this miracle cure and become fair. I thought i should tell my dusky girlfriend who is worried that my mom doesn’t approve of her colour. Later I learnt that she does use it and believes that it has done some good thing. I told her I loved her since she is dark and I don’t want her to be fair. She tells me that my mom will never like her that way. I am still perplexed about who is unfair in this world, my mom, HLL company, or Mr.Balky or the whole society?
– Factfile –
First published in Businessgyan – February 2004 –