Ad: Emami Ltd’s “Fair and Handsome” (F&H) cream for men
Agency: Situations Advertising & Marketing Pvt. Ltd
Kumar Subramaniam, president of Meridian Communications Pvt. Ltd, picks the latest spot for Emami Ltd’s “Fair and Handsome” (F&H) cream for men.
A guy with a dusky complexion is wooing a beautiful woman, when his sister tells him off for finishing her fairness cream. The embarrassed protagonist flees, but is cornered by brand ambassador Shahrukh Khan (SRK) who tells him why he should pick Emami’s F&H.
What happens when you mix a dodgy product proposition with an insipid brief, some mediocre creativity and add a superstar to the mix? Emami’s F&H commercial with SRK.
The spot is actually a brief (and a bad brief, at that) masquerading as an ad. It says too many things, and fails to take the product story beyond the banal. There are no emotional layers, no personality for the brand, and nothing left to the viewer’s imagination.
The argument frequently trotted out for such work is that it is targeted at small-town India which isn’t “evolved” enough. That’s rubbish.
First, there are enough examples in advertising and outside which illustrate how pan-Indian connections can be made. You just need to look at a Hutch or a Cadbury ad. And, ironically, you can also look at SRK who does it with greater élan than most brands.
Secondly, it’s a lazy argument for not being able to truly understand your audience—nobody has taken the trouble to get under the skin (sorry for the pun) of this audience and uncover their human truths. So, men using their wives’ or sisters’ fairness creams—a general behavioural observation—poses as a great insight.
What’s worse, that observation gets played back to the consumers in the ad. And all this is justified condescendingly as LCD or lowest common denominator advertising.
To top it all, the ad is shoddily executed—complete with plastic sets and a forced jingle.
One possible approach could have been to spoof the needs that drive a man to use fairness cream. Or what happens when all the men in town start looking fair.
Also, we are finally talking about a grooming product. So I would certainly have given it superior production values. There are so many interesting ways to tell this story—once you decide to treat your consumers with greater respect and not bludgeon them into buying your product.
Unfortunately, not everybody thinks so.As told to Gouri Shah