NEW DELHI :
Think of Knorr and images of mothers serving hearty bowls of soups to their kids come alive. However, the Hindustan Unilever (HUL) owned soup brand is breaking this imagery to feature Bollywood actor and director Karan Johar in a new campaign.
Titled ‘One Night with Karan’ the ad is created by advertising agency Lowe Lintas which seems straight out of a typical Bollywood flick. The ad shows Johar preparing a hot bowl of soup for a friend who arrives at his doorstep drenched and cold. It almost seems like the campaign banks upon not just Johar's popularity but also the immense interest around his sexual orientation. The ad ends with its proposition ‘Restaurant like soup at home’.
According to HUL, the ad is a way of breaking stereotypes of food advertising which typically feature the homemaker as the preparer and server of food for the family. The company said there are single person households and households without kids which needs to brought into mainstream food advertising.
Shiva Krishnamurthy, vice-president, tea and foods at HUL said “Knorr is a progressive and inspirational global food brand, which promises “restaurant-like taste at home". Our new campaign attempts to communicate this promise by ‘unstereotyping’ food advertising. We could not think of anyone but Karan Johar to help us do this and we are delighted to have him on board as our brand ambassador."
Knorr advertising has always hinged on mothers providing restaurant like taste at home for almost a decade. The brand has leveraged celebrities such as Kajol playing doting mother in campaigns with tagline 'Tummy bhi khush, Mummy bhi khush'. Around 2015, it was also positioned the product as a quick remedy for untimely hunger in kids with the tagline – 'Choti bhook bye bye!’.
Sagar Kapoor, chief creative officer, Lowe Lintas, said “The idea was to tell newer stories, explore fresher characters and situations in the category. While doing these, the focus was to land our promise of ‘restaurant like soup’. Hence, the story focussed on an occasion when it would be impossible to get ‘restaurant soup’ and yet, Karan manages it with Knorr."
The film, which was first launched on Karan Johar’s Instagram page, has garnered over one million views. Apart from social media platforms it is also being promoted across television channels.
According to Pratik Gupta, founder of digital advertising agency Foxymoron with the young millennials having hectic schedules and living away from their families, the category lends itself to a larger audience than before (mothers).
“I believe that the ad works in making the brand stand out by getting a non-female protagonist and a never seen before story format in the category. The almost-undertone of homosexual attraction is something this generation is comfortable discussing, and therefore makes the brand stand out and get noticed," he said.
However, he is quick to add that the chemistry and the subtle suggestions between the two characters was overdone and the story seemed a little too stretched. “While using Karan Johar and broaching the attraction between two men is a fresh take, the relevance to the category is questionable and the story could have been a lot more compact," he noted.