If one has to summarise this century in a single world, most of us will attribute this century to increasing competition. There is no domain of life without competition, be it sports, academics, politics, and marketing is no different. Detergent is a primary inelastic consumer good used for cleaning clothes. Since it is a fundamental good, almost all the brands compete to sell the same kind of detergent. As Howard Luck Gossage said, “Nobody reads ads. People read what interests them, and sometimes it’s an ad”, it is imperative for the detergent companies to differentiate their product from other brands. Brands resort to advertisement to differentiate their products from others. Surf Excel, Ariel, and Nirma have a massive chunk of the consumer base in India.
Ariel is trying to sell their detergent by promoting the idea of gender equality to the consumers. The ad is pathos-centric and appeals to the conscience of the consumers especially mothers and urges them to change the way they are upbringing their sons, i.e., teaching them the household chores so that they can be equal partners tomorrow. The ad depicts a daughter informing her mother that she is quitting her job due to the household chores after marriage. The daughter is going to leave the job because his husband isn’t aware of the household chores, to which the mother realizes that sons should be taught to manage household chores and asks her son to wash his dirty clothes. The second advertisement of Surf Excel aims towards spreading the message of unity in diversity. A Hindu girl helps a Muslim boy to reach the mosque to offer Namaz without being coloured by others on Holi. The ad is pathos-centric since it targets the
religious sentiments. The third ad of Nirma has a humorous tone as washing clothes is compared to Kung-Fu, where Nirma is the undisputed leader, according to the ad. The commercial opens with a few Kung-Fu students washing clothes, but Akshay Kumar mocks them. The instructor gets angry at this and asks Akshay to clean clothes, which he can do in a minute with Nirma washing powder without any labour. Akshay Kumar is lending his stellar qualities of acting and martial arts to the product. However, the advertisement fails to comply with Schrank’s model on different fronts. A few of the drawbacks of this advertisement are-“So what” claim and vague claims. A “So what” claim doesn’t offer any advantage to the product. The ad says that Nirma has many micro-busters, but the real question is will it help in cleaning the clothes efficiently. Nirma’s ad has several logical fallacies like vague claims. The ad claims that their detergent is advanced- but they haven’t given a proper definition of advanced. Does advanced refer to new packaging or just a brand name or something else? Due to these drawbacks of Nirma ad, I shall be analysing Ariel and Surf Excel ads.
Analysis of Ariel Advertisement
On 23rd January 2019, Ariel India posted its new commercial on YouTube with #SharetheLoad and became an internet sensation within a few hours which seldom happens with any ad. Within a short span of 7 months, the ad was viewed by 95 lakh viewers approximately on YouTube. The ad was successful in creating an impact on the consumers as they talked about gender-equality in household chores in open forums, which helped the product to gain visibility in the market. The ad portrays a daughter who had to quit her job due to the increased household chores after marriage, and her mother is astonished to hear. The mother is portrayed as a flag-bearer who decides to teach the household chores to his son so that there is a parity in the family. Towards the end of the ad, the mother asks her son to wash his clothes with Ariel Detergent. The ad is backed up by pathos, as the ad is appealing to the conscience of consumers, especially women, as the advertisement motivates them to revolutionize their upbringing
method. Logos in this advertisement is the way how the actors deliver the present scenario rationally and coherently, which is evident in society and urges viewers to watch the complete commercial.
The company has deployed a rhetorical question in its ad, which makes it more appealing to the consumers. The ad closes with a rhetorical question – “Are we teaching our sons what we have been teaching our daughters” which grabs the audience attention to introspect and reflect on this issue and leaves a good impression of their product on the consumers. The company has projected the patriarchal society, which is the most common form of society in India. Hence the ad has been successful in connecting with the audience. One of the rules of advertisement is that if one product is superior to others, then the firm won’t hesitate to acknowledge its superiority in commercials. However, detergent is a parity product, so one can’t claim its superiority with conviction. In such a scenario, firms differentiate their products by selling the fantasies associated with it and not the product itself. A similar strategy has been adopted by Ariel, who is selling its product by associating the detergent with gender equality.
Though the advertisement is appealing, it has a few drawbacks. The ad is heavily inclined towards its #SharetheLoad campaign that it is impossible for a viewer to understand it is an Ariel ad until the end. The ad has followed the “compliment the consumer” claim, which means they have buttered up the consumers by flattering them. The commercial has appreciated the females, who perform household chores and portrayed the importance of women in society. The commercial has urged mothers to be the flag-bearers and bring a change. The ad is a simple video with appealing gestures and tone used by the actors.
When the advertisement shows the untidy room of the son, it is trying to depict a story- the story of gender biasedness and giving more privilege to the male. The picture conveys that the boys aren’t asked to perform the basic chores in chores as opposed to their counterparts. The
problem of gender inequality originates from our homes. Ariel urges the parents to change this trend for the better. The claims made by Ariel in the advertisement and hence consumers can draw a picturesque in their mind which provides ethos to the Ariel Detergent in an indirect manner. Though Ariel is a leading firm in the industry, it has strengthened its credibility by raising social issues.
However, the tone of the advertisement can be criticized as it urges men to help women in their household chores, so one may deduce that the firm feels that household chores are the primary duty of women. This advertisement does appeal to one’s conscience, but whether it will help in converting these viewers into consumers is debatable. The “So what” question might strike the consumers, i.e., they may appreciate the idea, but does it mean that their detergent cleans the clothes properly? The consumers might buy their opinion but whether or not they will purchase the product is questionable as it is no way related to the Ariel detergent itself. However, it is noteworthy that the subliminal perception created by this ad will help it in increasing its sales, and hence, it is an appealing commercial.
Analysis of Surf Excel advertisement
The Surf Excel #RangLaayeSang flooded the internet since Feb 27, 2019, when the firm posted the video on YouTube. The ad aimed at promoting religious harmony faced a lot of controversies, yet the commercial was an effective one. The advertisement features a Hindu girl, a Muslim boy and other children playing with colours on Holi. The girl is being splashed by the colours to protect his Muslim friend, who is going to the mosque to offer his prayer to the deity. The advertisement intended to promote the liberty of others with individual freedom and respect others sentiments and try not to hurt them. Towards the end of the ad, the girl tells him that he will have to play Holi after offering prayer signifying the mutual bond two people
from different communities can share. The ad is intended to serve the Indian consumers from different ethnic and communal groups. Thus the ad caters to a large, diverse audience.
Pathos is the backbone of this commercial as the whole setting, and aura created is to appeal to the soul of consumers. The ad urges people to respect each other’s religion and sentiments. The theme of this ad is based on the principle of “Unity in Diversity,” which implies that despite following different customs, we are humans, and an individual has to respect the rights of everyone. The commercial has used the rhetorical triangle beautifully. The ad uses logos in the way of presenting their argument. The arguments like respecting others faith are rational and hence are based on facts. The ad has tried to depict the way we can avoid communal tension and live in a prosperous state. Throughout the ad, we can see that Surf Excel is escribed on the top, which provides credibility to this commercial as Surf Excel has been a prominent player since long.
The ad had a noble intent, but there are a few religious radicals who try to lighten hatred against other religions. This commercial followed a similar outburst by a few Hindu extremists. The rebels felt that the ad is glorifying Islam and disrespecting Hindu community. Probably Surf Excel was aware of these repercussions and hence cleared its intent in the first 10 seconds of the advertisement by displaying a message. The message said, “The advertisement is meant to strengthen brotherhood and happiness,” and it urged the people to play Holi safely and responsibly. Thus, the intent of the ad was clear, and so it attracted a viewership of whooping 14.5 million within six months approximately.
The company has used visual and audio tactics to make its message appealing. The sight is very pleasing, and the audio played in the background supports the visuals, and hence, both of the tools are organized and coherent. The song tries to convey the idea that we all are friends
and equal. The song interprets the meaning of Holi as a festival of colours intended to bring us together.
Though the ad had a noble intent, a few logical fallacies can be found out in this advertisement. Some viewers might question “So what” after seeing this ad, i.e., though they are spreading a noble thought, how is it related to Surf Excel brand in the very first place. They might buy the idea, but they might not buy the product as there is a weak correlation between the brand and the idea. People may use other detergents and still adopt their idea because detergent is a parity product. Since the advertisement compares the colours with dirt (daag), it might go against their intent of spreading religious harmony and selling their product to a larger consumer base. Though the ad has a few drawbacks, yet it is an example of an appealing commercial.
I believe both the advertisements have done a commendable job in gaining popularity for the brand, which is the primary motto of any ad. Advertisements are useful only if it leaves an impression on consumers’ minds for years. Both the ads have a call for action. However, I think that the Surf Excel is more effective as they have tried to relate the message conveyed in the ad with their brand by changing the image on the packet of the detergent to Holi colours. Also, one cannot understand that the Ariel ad is meant for popularising Ariel because the ad mentions Ariel at last as opposed to Surf Excel whose brand name is visible throughout the commercial. Pathos is the centre of both the ads. However, Surf Excel has capitalized on the pathos in the ad for their benefit. Surf Excel has been able to differentiate its product by beautiful visual and audio appeals. Bill Bernbach said, “Nobody counts the number of ads you run; they just remember the impression you make,” and Surf Excel has drawn that impression beautifully through excellent use of rhetoric.
Ariel ad- The ad depicts a phonetic conversation between a mother and her married daughter, during which the daughter reveals that she will have to quit her job due to increased household chores. The mother was amused to listen to this as her daughter was climbing on the stair of success. The daughter replies that his husband won’t be able to help her with the household chores as he has never been exposed to household chores. The mother understands that though times have changed and women are allowed to work, the household chores are still considered as their duty, so she decides to amend the upbringing way of his son so that he becomes accountable for household chores and helps in establishing parity in society.
Surf Excel ad- The ad opens with a few kids splashing colours on a man passing by on Holi. A girl intentionally is splashed by the colours until they are out of colours. After they are out of the colour stock, she calls a Muslim boy and drops her to the mosque without being splashed by colours. Towards the end of the ad, the girl tells the boy that he will have to play Holi after offering his prayer to which the boy responds positively with a sweet gesture. The #RangLaayeSang means colours bring us together.
Nirma- The setting is a Kung-Fu school where a few students are washing clothes, but none of them succeeded in cleaning the clothes properly. When the instructor sees Akshay laughing at them, she asks her to clean the clothes. Akshay Kumar cleans the cloth in a minute effortlessly and gets applauded by everyone.
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