Tuesday, August 25, 2015

The advertising history of Liril

Is advertising enough for a brand to survive over a long period of time? Read on and find out which Indian does not know about Liril? It was launched in 1974 with great fanfare. Who does not remember the ‘girl in the waterfall’ commercial? Even without the benefit of social media this commercial made waves. People even knew the model’s name, which was as much a testimony to the uniqueness of the commercial as much as to the absence of clutter in those days. As a youngster in those days which was before TV made it big in India, I used to watch the commercial in the cinema hall like most people of that day and age. Here is a relook at that commercial. The follow up press ad encapsulates the brand’s promise of freshness that has endured over the years. 

Water and Liril the romance continues

The girl and the waterfall continued their association with the brand as different models advertised for the brand in a different waterfall. Here are a couple of  waterfall commercials.

Future commercials cued the water, the girl even if it moved away from the waterfall but the freshness, green and lime continued.

Then the agency wondered how they could make the commercial different given all these constraints. They moved to the desert of all places and here is a very different commercial. Some people liked the commercial whilst a few others were critical of it as well, saying that in the desert where water was so scarce who would waste water? Well take a look at the commercial and make your own judgement...

Brand goes into variants
Clearly the brand was getting tired as newer, younger brands were crowding the market place and others like Cinthol were edging in on the freshness platform with more media weight behind them. So the brand came up with variants, an icy mint variant.

So here’s the orange variant where the girl dances in the street with urchins in a scene that reminded South Indian audiences of Ilayaraja and a Tamil film. Watch this commercial...

Then the brand went the family way as the above commercial depicts

Time for a remix
Now after nearly four decades and numerous experiments it is time for the brand to perhaps reinvent itself, having gone through so many advertising avatars and executions that we have seen in this column. So what does the brand do? To understand that you must first know what a remix is and I am sure you are all familiar with remixed songs and movies. How often have we heard of famous songs of the fifties and sixties being redone with a fresh music track and the same tune? Some people like it as they have no attachment with the past or its history and just like the tune that is set to a much faster pace and beat that is in line with today. The new Liril commercial is essentially a remix of the commercial of the seventies and here it is...

What do you think of it? Even if you had not seen the old commercial you can relate to this whereas for someone like me it is a reminder of my youth as it might be for several others in their forties and fifties. Could this be the shape of things to come? Let us wait and watch the future...

So what does the brand’s history teach us?
Liril is a marketing and advertising case study and that’s the first thing we must place on record. It is something that people of my generation liked and admired.  It is a famous brand which is just short of iconic!
The brand had multiple associations some of which became properties like the girl, waterfall, freshness, the music track, green and lime. The problem with some of these over a period of time is that as you have more and more properties that are mandatory almost then there is very little scope for creativity. In the early years most executions looked like each other and people felt that they had seen the commercial before. Now the brand seems to have done a full circle and rather than looking for a fresh creative, they have redone their forty year old commercial. A remix of the seventies commercial!
Very often brands are looking towards advertising alone to provide the difference over the years and yet this can be almost impossible to achieve over a period of time, if the product remains more or less the same. The marketplace is getting more and more crowded with newer, sexier offerings and the solution has to be in the product not merely in the advertising. Is the brand relying too much on advertising?
Will the new commercial deliver the goods? Only time will tell. But the lessons that history teaches us are there, as students of marketing and advertising for us to mull over.
So what’s your key take out from the Liril story?

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