Mumbai: Lux’s new ad will feature Bollywood’s first couple Abhishek Bachchan and Aishwarya Rai Bachchan—the first time the husband and wife will appear in an ad together.
“We could have put them both in a bathtub and said, lets go for the eyeballs, but we really wanted to show them in a way that they had never been seen before,” says Tista Sen, executive creative director and senior vice-president at JWT India, the agency handling the account for the soap from Hindustan Unilever Ltd.
The ad, which is for Lux’s new range of soaps with beauty oils, gives viewers a peek into the very private lives of the stars, says Sen.
Joint package: Abhishek Bachchan and Aishwarya Rai will jointly endorse a new range of Lux soaps containing beauty oils. Manoj Patil / Hindustan Times
It starts with Rai Bachchan blindfolding Bachchan. He then tries to catch her, but she keeps getting away because her skin is very soft. He eventually grabs her, only to realize that he’s caught hold of the maid.
“It’s a side of the couple that has never been seen before; it’s young, fun and in keeping with their real characters,” adds Sen.
Bachchan becomes the third man to appear in Lux ads after Paul Newman and Shah Rukh Khan.
The ad is an attempt by Lux to stay relevant, says an expert.
“The problem with Lux, is that they were the ones who invented the concept of celebrity endorsements and that was what gave them a highly differential positioning, it was their only calling card,” says Santosh Desai, managing director and chief executive of Future Brands, a brand consultancy. “Now everyone has a celebrity endorser. So, they really need to up the ante on their product and find an essence that goes beyond the whole ‘soap of the film stars’ positioning.”
And it won’t work, he adds. “They’ve tried everything from putting SRK into a bathtub to launching chocolate variants, which could infuse some news-ness into a brand that time has been unkind to. So while this new campaign will bring some short-lived hype and attention, the company is still not answering a fundamental question dogging the brand.”
Rai Bachchan, who is the brand ambassador for Lux, L’Oreal and Nakshatra diamond jewellery, charges anywhere between Rs2 crore and Rs5crore for an ad; Bachchan, who endorses brands such as Idea, Big Radio and Omega, is known to charge approximately Rs2-4crore. While both have not had any film releases lately, they will appear together in Mani Ratnam’s Ravana early next year.
This isn’t the first time a Bollywood couple is appearing in an ad.
The husband and wife team of Ajay Devgan and Kajol have appeared in ads for Whirlpool and Tata Indicom.
Couples Saif Ali Khan and Kareena Kapoor (most notably, Airtel), John Abraham and Bipasha Basu (Clinic All Clear), and Ranbir Kapoor and Deepika Padukone (Pepsi), too, have appeared in ads.
Still, Rai Bachchan and Bachchan are Bollywood royalty. He is from the first family of Bollywood, she is a Miss World.
There are no discounts for signing the pair; like most young celebrity couples in Bollywood, the contracts are always drawn separately and individual rates apply, says Vivek Kamath of Matrix India Entertainment Consultants Pvt. Ltd. So signing Bachchan and Rai Bachchan could set a brand back by Rs6-7 crore.
Celebrity endorsement: Rai Bachchan already has a contract with Hindustan Unilever, while Bachchan becomes the third man to appear in Lux ads after Paul Newman and Shah Rukh Khan.
Saif Ali Khan and Kareena Kapoor would come at Rs6 crore, while Abraham and Basu, together, would cost a brand Rs3 crore.
The costs notwithstanding, advertising that can capture real-life relationships in a realistic way minus cheesy ad-libbing can go a long way in grabbing consumer attention, says an expert. “Everyone wants an insight into the personal and private lives of these stars. It’s almost a voyeuristic kind of advertising which people can believe is real,” says K.V. Sridhar, national creative director at Leo Burnett India.
Using Rai Bachchan and Bachchan is better than using “unrelated celebrity endorsers”, says Anirban Das Blah, former chief executive officer of Globosport India Pvt. Ltd, a celebrity management firm.
However, he adds that “the couples of the moment are Saif and Kareena, and Deepika and Ranbir, and brands like Airtel have used that association quite effectively.”
According to Blah, the Lux campaign could help Bachchan, who hasn’t signed too many endorsement deals lately. “It definitely helps to be associated with one of the biggest brands in India.”
The new Lux ad has been conceptualized by JWT Mumbai and shot by director Stephen Meads of the London-based ad film production house Short Films.