HUL’s : Surf excel new ad Viral Controversy

In Indian FMCG industry HUL & Surf Excel brand is the biggest spenders on promotions, has been in the focal point of controversy  last  week  Hindustan Unilever (HUL), India’s pioneer advertiser and perhaps one of the nation’s biggest spenders on publicity, has been in the midst  point of discussions all of a week ago.

First it was the Father-son  Kumbh Mela advertisement for Brooke Bond Red Label tea that kicked up a veritable storm in a tea-cup.

Presently it is the new Surf Excel advertisement where a Hindu young girl, wearing a white shirt, gets colored in Holi so as to save her young Muslim friend who needs to go to the nearest mosque for pray.

HUL has been trolled in the  couple of days. #BoycottHindustanUnilever and #BoycottSurfExcel have been trending on Twitter. What’s more, there have been few supports too with this campaign,  particularly for the Surf Excel one, however the  majority of the kinder words have truly originated from brand ‘specialists’ and creative folks who have really appreciated the brand’s endeavors to put out publicizing that is ‘dynamic’, ‘positive’, ‘comprehensive’ and ‘secular’.

In any case, to the general population everywhere, the universe of HUL’s buyers, both Red Label and Surf Excel’s new promoting movies are somewhat of a selling out and belittlement, difficult to appreciate, comprehend or identify with.

Much has just been written  on both the advertisements in few days. In this piece today, my endeavor truly is search for issues and intentions-  reasons why a mature, mass publicist with such a humongous shopper base like Hindustan Lever would need to court debates, and that too without a convincing reason or provocation.

HUL has a great deal a lot in question to need to so truly raise some rock the  boat  on purchaser loyalty and obviously piece of the overall industry. Give us initial a chance to inspect what are the issues fomenting the twittered, and whether they are extremely substantial.

  1. In the Kumbh advertisement, the issues at the center of the controversy are: – The Kumbh is a Hindu assemblage… truly, the world’s biggest events. Be that as it may, for HUL to recommend in its tweet that, “Kumbh Mela is a place where old people get abandoned, would it say it isn’t tragic that we couldn’t care less for our older folks?
  2. Red Label urges us to hold the hands of the individuals who made us our identity,” and request that viewers to watch the video which is “an eye opener to a brutal the truth” is seen by numerous individuals to be a conscious attack against Hindu qualities and Hindu culture. As a matter of fact, the disdain is focused at one dimension at the way that the story is rotated on the Kumbh, subsequently Hindu, yet in addition that the endeavor to ‘lose’ the dad intentionally in the processing swarm is portrayed as though all Hindu youngsters take their folks to the blessed plunge just to dispose of them. Of course, there may have been genuine past occasions of such disgraceful occurrences yet to tom-tom them as the standard of the Kumbh and Hindu . Must be there, subsequently is there. The whole story is being viewed as a issue on how Hindu posterity have no affection or worry for their folks and need to off-load these badly designed older folks. That might not have been the message being conveyed, yet that is what is by and large generally gotten.
  3. The Surf Excel subject is all the more expressly a Hindu-Muslim harmony, advertisement being seen precisely as the inverse: – The shades of Holi being called ‘daags’ is being viewed as hostile. – The Hindu young lady taking every one of the hits of the Holi colors to ensure her Muslim friend can get to his namaz in whites supposedly is an endeavor to depict that the Muslim supplication is hallowed.

Namaz is more important in compare to Holi. – The greatest complaint obviously is that the whole ‘sacrifice’ is being made by the Hindu young girls.

I would commonly will in general concur with the analysis of the Kumbh advertisement that it sums up the purposeful ‘losing’ of guardians dependent on an extrapolation of information that isn’t generally all inclusive.

On Surf Excel, I would be additionally lenient. It is a sensible depiction of the brand’s theory, Agar kuch achha karne mein daag lag jaaye toh daag achhe hain (Stains that come as a piece of a decent deed are great stains). Back now to our discourse on inspirations.

  1. There is a pro-active attempt at HUL to make brands more contemporary and real. Real in the sense, embedded in the lives, hopes, aspirations and realities of consumers. You see that happening in the murti-maker story of Red Label. You see that happening again with Red Label in the old lady with Alzheimer story where the nice neighbor gets mistaken by her for her son who lives overseas. Yes, there is a distinct effort at connecting at more levels with consumers than just merely transnational. Well, to be fair, some attempts go well, some don’t.
  1. There is perhaps a belief at the new-age HUL that controversy is not bad for brands. Twitter tsunamis rise and abate equally quickly. Trending, even negative trending, is transient. #BoycottSurfExcel was trending up, up, and up all day till the Chief Election Commissioner held a press conference to announce the election schedule, and bingo Surf Excel just vanished from the top trends. So, HUL know that Twitter is a one-day or two-day backlash at best (or worst), no more. The company, perhaps as a strategy, is learning to ignore this blip of negativity.
  1. Controversy actually makes the brand famous, forces consumers to sit up and take notice. Close-Up as a brand has been in active decline, both in market share and mind-space. From a time in the late 1990s and early 2000s when it was giving Colgate a run for its money, today it is no longer a brand in the forefront of consumer consciousness. Last year, the CloseUp #FreeToLove controversy on the Hindu-Muslim live-in couple and the same-sex lovers ignited a controversy that pushed the Lever brand into the shining limelight once again. Good thinking, smart strategy most would say.
  1. There seems also a belief at HUL that those who tweet are perhaps not those who buy. So, twitter controversies are just a side-show. The likes of Baba Ramdev fanning the controversy are actually not bad optics. The mass of consumers stay unaffected and untouched by the negativity. This may not necessarily be true. But who am I to question the beliefs of a multinational that knows it all.
  1. HUL seem to think that Hindu-Muslim themes most ignite controversy. And that as long as Muslim sentiments are not provoked, right wing Hindu reactions can be ignored or papered over. In these times of Hindutva aggression this may not altogether be a safe assumption. But then HUL surely knows what it is doing.
  1. There is a visible trend in evidence on ‘story-telling’ that ‘involves’ consumers. That is a big change from the USP driven advertising of the past. HUL is trying hard to ‘engage’ with its constituencies. Sometimes the scripts may tend to meander and ‘provoke’ but obviously the powers-that-be at Lever feel that is okay. Provocation is just a more extreme form of engagement.
  1. There is also a visible attempt to appear more ‘cerebral’. Old Lever advertising was based on simple formula of brand problem, brand promise, brand window and brand logo. The new norm seems to be to make more compelling (and intelligent) communication. Some may see it as succumbing to peer-pressure. I don’t know.
  1. There is surely an eye out for advertising awards at Lever. Once the controversy abates, all of this will become the stuff case-studies and management school presentations are made of

They would accomplish a greater amount of what Tata Tea does with its Jaago Re subject. Or on the other hand the sort of stuff Pidilite did with its Kumbh Mela ‘Inseparable’ vests. ‘Conservatizing’ with reason, without controversy. HUL has clearly picked an alternate way. All things considered, the reality of the situation will become eventually. is a sharp onlooker of patterns, and remarks on what he sees around him without preference or fear..

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