New Durex campaign struggles with contradictions

Adbuzz my weekly review of advertising last week on where this article was first published

If you have ever felt a dentist’s glove inside your mouth you know what latex tastes like.  So, one does get the rationale for flavoured condoms for improving the quality of oral sex, even if the flavours might seem a little regressive like kala khatta, and meetha pan.


But here is the contradiction. Pankaj Duhan, marketing director, RB Health-South Asia told ‘..95 per cent of Indians do not use condoms and we already have a huge population. This is an alarming situation!”If 95% of Indian’s don’t use condoms what is the point of encouraging them to use flavoured condoms for oral sex?  Because oral sex doesn’t make more babies.

The other contradiction I found is that RB says that it is promoting ‘faithful promiscuity’ and yet they have commercials like this one which actually talks about having sex with a stranger.  I thought that it was not socially responsible advertising to be so blatant about promiscuity. Watch this film which is titled “Encounter with a hot stranger”.

The actual flavoured condom ads I thought were not done tastefully.  But of course you the public can be final jury on this one. If you enjoy sexual innuendos like this one, no doubt RB will be eminently successful.

You be the judge but I personally found the commercial quite revolting, and I can tell you I am not a prude.

Horlicks: Much ado about nothing

When GSK moved their Horlicks brand after 80 years to FCB Ulka mid-2017, it shook up the industry.   One doesn’t see relationships break after 80 years.  It’s like breaking a marriage after 80 years.  There seems little point in doing so.  JWT in its characteristic, quiet style took the blow with dignity and without too much regret.  And now comes the news that Horlicks might be up for sale to finance the GSK buyout of Novartis Nutrition.

Horlicks has franchise largely in India although it is imported in Australia and New Zealand and is also present in Malaysia and the West Indies.  In the UK, it is a small brand and people drink Horlicks as a nightcap.  It is a classic case of an entire category becoming irrelevant, and a lack of category innovation leading to declining sales.  This has affected other food drinks of yesteryears like Complan.

Once upon a time when nutrition was a problem and milk was inadequate or of low quality in the country, Horlicks played an important role. Parents are no longer open to adding Horlicks to the milk.  They would rather serve their children cereal or muesli. Or just give them plain milk. And nutrition is not as big a concern as it was a few decades ago.

Suitors to buy the GSK Horlicks brand I believe are many.  The question is what happens to the ad agency FCB Ulka who won this business from JWT with great aplomb last year.  Will the buyer hand over the brand to their trusted agency or carry on with FCB Ulka who has been with Horlicks for just a year now? Alternatively, the buyer could just ask for an agency pitch. Interesting times ahead.

War of the Babas

The ayurvedic segment might be hotting up with the launch of the Sri Sri Tattva from Sri Sri Ravishankar.  The commercial however was a bit of a letdown with the hackneyed theme of a ‘just married’ scenario where Sri Sri Tattva products are a wedding gift.  But then it is not advertising that is creating this category, it is the product and the ayurvedic positioning.

While the expectation was that Sri Sri Tattva might consider premium pricing, the 1 litre desi ghee pack on showed that Sri Tattva was priced at Rs 530 while Patanjali’s desi ghee was priced at Rs 500.

It would be interesting to see if the babas might just compete with each other or the MNCs.

A good brand can take bad advertising


 While Jio has to be admired as an innovator who disrupted the mobile telephony category, its advertising seems to challenge every rule in the book.  One is left with fleeing images of people singing and dancing with well-known Bollywood stars and a sprinkling of East European models. The merriment then ends with a pack shot on Jio Digital Life.  If one were to guess the advertising brief backwards, one would say that someone said “let us be remembered as Dhan Dhana Dhan”. The rest might have been put together by a writer and director of dubious distinction.

Jio certainly proves one thing. That a good product can survive atrocious advertising.

Prabhakar Mundkur has spent 40 years in advertising and worked in India, Africa and Asia. He is currently Chief Mentor with HGS Interactive a part of HGS in the Hinduja Group. He is on the advisory board of Sol 's Arc ( ) an NGO dedicated to special education for intellectually challenged children. He is also a member of Whiteboard ( ) which supports senior management of NGOs in financial management, PR, Communication and HR through pro bono expertise.

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