Havells fans ropes in Bollywood’s first superstar Rajesh Khanna

02 May,2012

By Rajiv Singh


He thrilled millions of his fans with his electrifying presence on silver screen during late 60s and 70s. Now, after staying out of the limelight for decades, but with his air of stardom almost intact, a frail Rajesh Khanna has pleasantly shocked all by featuring in his maiden TV ad – for Havells fans.


Created by advertising agency Lowe Lintas, electrical equipment maker Havells India’s ‘Fans are forever’ campaign takes viewers down the memory lane by showing glimpses of the unprecedented mass hysteria and a frenzied fan following that the first official superstar of Bollywood enjoyed for decades.


For a superstar whose fans were legion and who wrote romantic letters in blood to him, a fan commercial may not be the ultimate box-office humdinger, but it has definitely created a buzz with some advertising experts hailing it as a masterstroke.


“It’s a bold ad, so true to the life of Rajesh Khanna,” said Prasoon Joshi, executive chairman and CEO of McCann Worldgroup India and president, South Asia.


Sometimes ads are done not to hardsell a product, but to start a conversation or create a language for the brand, said Mr Joshi. “This is one of those advertisements.”


For Havells India, which has more than 13 per cent share in the Rs3,500-crore fan market, the commercial is yet another instance of out-of-box advertisements that the brand has been resorting to over the last few years to break the clutter on television.


“Fans are not so talked-about category,” said Anil Gupta, joint MD of Havells India. “With almost similar-kind of communication by all the brands, we wanted to break the clutter.”


Josy Paul, chairman and national creative director of ad agency BBDO India, said Havells has always gone for highly salient advertising, to make people look again at boring stuff like switches and fans.


“Nostalgia is a sweet thing and brands can benefit from this,” he says, adding, “We brought music director Bappi Lahiri back with 7Up ‘golden lemon offer’ in 2009, and the commercial was a super hit.”


However, not all are impressed with the brand using a yesteryear superstar. Prathap Suthan, managing partner of brand-new independent ad agency Bang in the Middle, believes the Havells commercial is like a living obituary to the legendary superstar. “This is rank terrible advertising,” said Mr Suthan. “I don’t know whether to cry for Rajesh Khanna or console him.” He feels that the pun around ‘fans’ has not worked.


YLR Moorthi, marketing Professor at IIM Bangalore, said the retro of an ageing yesteryear superstar who looks a pale shadow of his former self may not connect with young consumers. “The ad assumes that the target audience has seen the movie ‘Anand’,” said Mr Moorthi. “Will the new generation connect with the advertisement,” he wondered.


However, Mr Gupta of Havells India is convinced that the new advertisement campaign with cut across all age barriers. “We did a lot of research before roping in Rajesh Khanna,” said Mr Gupta. The young generation is very much aware of Rajesh Khanna’s movies and songs, he added.


The jury may still be out on the advertisement, but for Rajesh Khanna, the star who fathered superstardom in India, a small commercial is a reminder of the many glories that were his for the taking in a country that was rigidly socialist and almost without the amplified profusion of second-by-second ads that innundate the present.


Source: The Economic Times
Copyright © 2012, Bennett, Coleman & Co. Ltd. All Rights Reserved


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