Liril is dead. Long live Liril.

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liril-2000.jpgSo Liril is officially dead. And it is back as Liril 2000 with new packaging, an improved product and a new positioning as a family freshness soap. The new ad is devoid of the iconic waterfall metaphor. Not surprisingly, it is a hot topic of discussion in the advertising & marketing community. First off, I would say that it seems like a ‘let’s try this and see what happens’ kind of effort to revive the once-popular brand. The brand’s market share is down to 1.2%, a far cry from the once 14% share.

The nomenclature, positioning and claim of rejuvenating 2000 body points is obviously borrowed from Lever 2000. The debate over the new Liril is only partly about the surrogate attempt to bring in Lever 2000. The larger issue is about the various failed attempts to revive the brand. Everyone is singing paeans about the very first Karen Lunel ad, which set the platform for Liril’s growth. The ads that followed – set in the desert, under a different waterfall, in a car wash, in the rain, amongst dolphins – did not really create the hype of the first ad. The catchy jingle of the first ad was also tinkered with, new signature tunes and tag lines (‘taazgi mein tunn’!) were also attempted. So is it about trying too many things in ads and a failure of advertising? Only partly. The core values of the brand – tingling freshness – were perhaps never consistently carried through the years. I am not saying that they should have only retained the waterfall metaphor – it was only an executional idea, not the essence of the brand. Several variants (Cologne, Rainfresh) and brand extensions (shower gel) were attempted to revive the brand. The last avatar, in 2007, was set in the bedroom and the sensuous ad claimed that the ‘magic is back’. It wasn’t. And it was a totally different animal from the one in 1985. So instead of sticking to one single benefit – tingling freshness – several disparate attempts have been made over the years. Of course, in hindsight one’s vision is 20-20.

Some say that just bringing in the old waterfall ad and the jingle should be good enough to revive the brand. One is not sure. The Karen Lunel ad is perhaps a fuzzy memory for most of the potential target audience of Liril today. If they had been consistently with one core brand property and an executional element over the years (perhaps the jingle) it would have been easier to build on it today. But the brand has seen so many transitions and changes it is difficult to anchor it on any one core property. As an aside, the product experience of Liril 2000 was good – at least for me – but at Rs.30, it will not be within reach of all. Will it revive the fortunes of brand Liril? Any easy answers? Perhaps not.

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  1. The problem is that Liril has failed to evolve with its target consumer. The iconic Karen Lunel ad was targeted at the “sati savitri” type housewife and offered her an escape from the responsibilities of looking after her husband, home and family. That woman has evolved into the Indian housewife of the 2000s and beyond. She no longer seeks the sort of escapism offered by Liril “water features”, she aspires to her heroines in soaps. Brands that understand this, respsect this and uncover her new needs will find a place in her heart.

    • Spot on, Arun. The 15-minutes of private fantasy and the waterfall have been quoted often. It may not be so relevant for today’s housewife – definitely not for someone who can afford a 30-buck soap.

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