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Powerful stereotype

Reviewer: KS Chakravarthy

K.S. Chakravarthy (Chax), national creative director, Draftfcb Ulka Advertising, has two decades of experience in advertising, and has worked with a range of clients such as Airtel, Tata Sky, DNA, Bajaj and Thums Up.


The ad for Wild Stone Red men’s deodorant, by Soho Square Advertising and Marketing Pvt. Ltd, shows actor Dia Mirza coming out after a shower, getting dressed and applying make-up, aware that she is being watched by a man next door. She is apparently mesmerized by the fragrance of his deodorant. Tag line: It Happens.

K S Chakravarthy
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K S Chakravarthy

I have always been a fan of Wild Stone’s advertising. Not because it is, creatively speaking, anything special, but because it has been single-minded and sharply focused on the specific area the brand has decided to make its own—the sexy, usually older, woman next door, often obviously married. It is a powerful stereotype.

Wild Stone campaigns or men’s deodorant campaigns in the past have been noticed by the Advertising Standards Council of India for supposedly being explicit. Is a sensual overtone an important part of selling these products?

I don’t know what exactly got the earlier ad into trouble: Was it the overt sexual portrayal or was it the forbidden fruit angle? If it was the former, the agency probably needlessly lost the soul in this execution. If the earlier brouhaha was because the woman was clearly portrayed as “married", then we have bigger questions to ponder and debate.

Does the overall category of men’s grooming products rely overtly on the element of ‘seduction’?

It is pointless to ask if sexual attractiveness—and its endless manifestations—is the only motivation that can sell male grooming products. The answer is a resounding yes. Why else do men spend time and money on grooming?

Does that leave any space for differentiation between one campaign and the other?

Axe has built a formidable international franchise around hopelessly aroused women drawn inexorably to the Axe-anointed, unlikely hero. What Wild Stone did was to take Axe’s generic, hiply brash promise of sexual attractiveness and it found a powerful Indian narrative framework to make it come alive to small-town India.

What would you have done differently?

In terms of creative execution, the stories could have been cheekier, lighter.

Any other ads in this category that caught your fancy?

Axe, or Lynx as it is known in some countries, has consistently done this well.

As told to Suneera Tandon.

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