Ponds: breaking new ground

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The Bollywood-film like advertising for Ponds is on to its third installment. Not surprisingly the response to it is mixed – at least among my friends it is seen as bizarre. I for one, think it is ground breaking and deserves kudos. In a category where there are a zillion players all promising virtually the same benefit, it is difficult to break the clutter. Even at the product level, what is seen as a differential today becomes a category benefit in no time. The new campaign attempts to break the mould which is commendable. I guess the fact that the Ponds pack shot comes on at the end without any link to the goings on makes people uncomfortable. The international version is here.

Ponds has come a long way from its days of cold cream and an everyday brand for the middle class. It is now vying for the top end of the market and forays into age defying creams have helped up its image. The new campaign which blurs the line between entertainment and advertising may add gloss to its image. Ponds and all its competition follow similar codes in advertising: presence in glossy print media, promise of fairness, beauty and younger looking skin, preference for English advertising etc. There was a time when the Bollywood-metaphor would have been infra dig for this crowd. Premium brands only advertised in English and nothing else. It is no longer uncool to be associated with regional languages and Bollywood – even among the audience Ponds is speaking to. To that extent, Ponds has got it right in terms of its tone of voice.

Speaking of un-advertising like advertising, the recent award winning ad ‘Key to Reserva’ directed by Martin Scorsese, created by JWT Spain comes to mind. Nescafe Gold created episodic ads in the UK many moons ago. The advertising for Thailand’s Smooth-E Baby Face Foam, is similar to Ponds in some ways. It had a series of episodes – but was different from Ponds in its integration of the product into the script. That’s perhaps my only grouse with the Ponds work – the product intro seems forced. In Smooth-E’s case it was deliberatley in your face. here are several other examples of advertising going beyond the traditional, like the solar powered hoarding which won a Cannes metal in 2007. Not all of them may be effective in promoting the brand. The jury is still out on the Ponds advertising but the boldness of the approach needs to be appreciated.

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