James C. Collins says that 'companies that change best over time know first and foremost what should not change'. Not always, Mr. Collins. Brands that remain unchanged and preserve their core idea and values understand their consumer best and know that how their age-old idea can be used best as an asset. They are best only with their original, age-old formulas.
And in the world of advertising, along with many other key factors, recall value and trust are things that keeps brands on their toes all the time. One of the major tasks for advertisers is to create a strong recall value and win the trust of the consumers.
The iconic Hema, Rekha, Jaya aur Sushma advertisement by Nirma Washing Powder changed the washing powder market 40 years back and made a strong impression in the minds of consumers. The brand successfully re-introduced the idea in 2011 with the same lyrics and an instant brand recall.
Similarly, Nirma Beauty Soap's advertisement featuring bollywood star Sonali Bendre recreated the magic when the brand re-launched the idea featuring Hansika Motwani. The new ad carried the same theme, jingle and lyrics - Tum Husn Pari, Tum Jaane Jahan....
Complan can be considered as another example in the category. The powdered milk energy drink brand commenced its 'I am a Complan Boy, I am a Complan Girl' theme decades back featuring Shahid Kapoor and Ayesha Takia as kids. The charm of this idea is still intact and various new TVCs have been launched around the theme since then.
Not only Nirma and Complan but various other brands like Vicco Turmeric, Santoor, Nerolac, Lux and Liril preferred to retain the core idea of their ads instead of adapting anything new. However, all these brands, whenever reinvented the same old idea, kept in mind to make it look fresh and engaging.
Sharing views on why these brands never thought of moving on, Santosh Padhi, aka Paddy, Chief Creative Officer & Co-Founder, Taproot Dentsu, says, "With time, these ideas turn into properties for brands, a property that brands prefer to retain because it has built a relationship with the consumers."
Taproot Dentsu is also the creative agency behind the new Nirma washing power advertisement. Padhi, while narrating the whole idea and redesigning of the new Hema, Rekha, Jaya aur Sushma ad, says, "With the new ad, we wanted to put across a modern context with a strong message and we realised that we already have a strong property, the Hema, Rekha.... So here we showed the modern woman who is also a strong mother, wife and individual. And all this resonated well with Nirma's Hema, Rekha, Jaya Aur Sushma jingle."
K.V Sridhar, aka Pops, Chief Creative Officer, SapientNitro India, opines, "Every brand has certain unique idea. However if you talk about product differentiation, that might not be there."
"Advertising in last few years for these brands has become a benefiting thing. Lots of advertising 20 years back was all about how a product benefits you. Santoor is about beauty and how you remain young. They have been successful with the concept and hence don't want to change," he went on to say.
MG Parameswaran, aka Ambi, Former CEO and Executive Director, FCB Ulka, currently, Founder, Brand-Building.com echoes the same sentiment and says, "Many large FMCG brands have stayed on the same platform because it works. Some brands have had to change track since their theme stopped resonating with the audience." Mentioning various brand campaigns, Ambi says, "Brands that succeed manage to tweak their core message with the changing consumer habits and societal dynamics. Santoor did that well. So did Fair & Lovely. Brands like Vicco seem to have got totally stuck in a groove. Brands like Lux, while staying with the Beauty Secret of Film Stars, has not moved the needle much, though their films are becoming more and more glossy. Same could be said of many other brands."
Liril, the soap brand, rolled out a campaign over four decades back where a bikini-clad girl is shown frolicking under the waterfall with the trademark la la la la la laaa tune. The brand came back with its Liril Girl in 2015.
Pops, while commenting on Liril's strategy, says, "Liril was a rage in the 80s when everyone used to connect to it but now the younger generation considers it to be the mother's brand. You need to contemporize yourself and that's why the focus of Liril on the youth."
Paddy, however, strongly believes that the formula can only work when done in an interesting way. "If you fail to use it in a right way, it might become a blind spot." Paddy feels that brands are like buddies. To back his idea, he says, "If they'll (brands) bore me with the same old idea I won't hang around with them. If they have something interesting, some memories to share with me, I would love to be with them."
Though change is the law of nature and people often say that one should change with time, Ambi seems to have a different opinion here. He says, "A brand should change its tune only if it gets a strong signal that the message is not working. Don't change for the sake of change. Ever."