BY Malay Desai
From: Linen Lintas, Delhi
The hair brand’s new film opens with a bald woman looking at an old picture of her when she had hair. She then goes about shutting the morning alarm, waking her husband and childand sending her to school. The morning routine also involves her family moment at breakfast and her trying out outfits and headgear, looking pensive. After donning a saree and getting a bindiput on her by her husband, she proceeds to work, seemingly after a long illness. Her nervousness is eased up later as her colleagues welcome her warmly, three of them marking her head with tiny spots, a Hindu ritual to ward off evil eye. ‘Some people don't need hair to look beautiful’, the copy at the end reads.
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In a market dominated by coconut oils, Dabur launched the premium Vatikaoil, positioning it as having herbs. After a slow start, its first few brand ambassadors were women achievers a la Sudha Chandran and Mandira Bedi. A decade later, its variants were being marketed by A-listers such as Priety Zinta and Priyanka Chopra. Cut to 20 years later, its latest brand endorser is an anonymous bald model.
While nothing’s really changed about the herbs in the scented oil, the brand and its promoters have matured in the two decades since, for the men running Indian advertising have salt-pepper hair too. This isn’t just another CSR-led campaign trying to make you feel good about 5 per cent of your money going to a street child, this is something much bolder, especially for the hair care market. The film is the exact opposite of the message that all hair products have been giving –that strong, shiny hair equals a beautiful you.
The film is slow, takes its time to settle in and depict the emotional upheaval in the cancer survivoron the day she returns to her workplace. She’s beautiful to her family, but fears stepping out to normalcy. Her long gazes, her time in front of the mirror and body language are signs of nerves, but she’s far from being a wreck. Even the soundtrack sings so.
A heartening welcome and ‘teekas’ on her bald head by three colleagues(why does no man feature among them we wonder) later, the film says it out – beauty isn’t just in the hair, before giving out a call to share more stories of cancer survivors. Vatika just added a few greys to its brand image overnight, and like they do on Clooney and Nafisa Ali, they look sexy.
Will the curtailed 60-seconder on TV be as impactful? Is the brand simply trying to evoke sympathy by putting up the big C? Wait, they’re not even donating anything to the cause. There will be questions for the rather picky oil customer, but the other elements of the campaign should have some answers.
For now, Vatika, can you also give us a break from bald men in newspaper ads?
(To watch this film, feed this link into your browser:‘bit.ly/ViewTubeJan12’)
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