Spot Light | Birla Cement
With about 13 years’ experience in advertising, Raghu Bhat and Manish Bhatt, founder-directors of Scarecrow Communications Ltd, have worked on brands such as Asian Paints, Religare Broking, Future Capital, Nestlé, Wonderbra and Vaseline.
Original: Raghu Bhat and Manish Bhatt.
The new advertisement for Birla Cement’s wall-care putty by Lowe India shows a family discovering that their pet parrot has dandruff. The phenomenon creates a lot of excitement and curiosity, with people pouring in to see the parrot and news channels covering the event. It’s only towards the end that the parrot draws everyone’s attention to the flaky ceiling.
What did you think of the ad?
This ad plot is like Peepli [Live] applied to cement advertising. The ad seeks to highlight a basic functional benefit—Birla putty eliminates papdi or flaking. Strategically, this is not a new premise. Many paint and distemper brands have already made this claim earlier. But creatively, the plot of a parrot shedding dandruff is original enough. The brand name is introduced at a point when the intrigue is at the maximum— which leads to strong brand recall. The production has the requisite scale and authenticity, though the casting could have featured more memorable faces. Overall, it looks like it will break clutter and be effective.
Effective: The dandruff-shedding parrot will stand the test of time.
Does this ad work for the brand?
Wall putty is not an impulse purchase. The audience, we presume, would comprise building contractors, masons and also, to some extent, the end-user. One of the tasks would be to make the audience remember the ad whenever the product need arises. Enduring recall can be created either by a hard-to-forget visual or audio mnemonic. To that extent, the theme of a “dandruff-wallah popat” will stand the test of time.
Which non-consumer-facing brand has done an excellent job of it?
If you analyse the successful brands in the cements to adhesives space, from Fevicol to Greenlam to Ambuja, you discern a pattern. There seem to be many category codes operating, some of them might be self-imposed. For instance, most brands make generic claims. The proposition is always a functional benefit. Humour seems to be the preferred tone of voice. This is a me-too trap. For any brand that seeks to differentiate itself, it might pay to go against the grain. Explore positioning based on the insights of the target audience, for instance. Or even an alternative emotional tone of voice. Also, there is a tendency to dumb down non-consumer-facing communication. So maybe, we ought to remember two things: 1) Masons and contractors are also human beings first; and 2) Cement isn’t really a “low-involvement” product for them.
As told to Gouri Shah.