Lifebuoy’s generosity

It was quite a surprise to see Lifebuoy’s ad in Hindustan Times, Mumbai edition (January 31, 2020).

And then again in Telegraph, Kolkata, on February 1, 2020.

The word-building around FIGHTS seemed rather forced, but I understand the sentiment.

The surprise is the fact that a Lifebuoy ad lists other soap brands too (4 of the top-selling 5 brands; Lifebuoy leads the list): Lifebuoy and Lux belong to Unilever, while Wipro owns Santoor, Reckitt Benckiser owns Dettol and Godrej owns No.1. So, why should Lifebuoy list other soap brands at all? As far as I know, the other brands are not sharing the cost of this advertisement, so why extend this courtesy?

The only reason I could imagine: buzz-worthiness.

Remove the other soap brands, and see the ad. It’s a far simpler, functional advertisement (and not a PSA) that is a simple laundry list of things-to-do about a hugely viral disease. But considering it is positioned as a ‘public service message’ (PSA, and not as an ad, as the headline calls out loudly), it makes contextual sense to make it more than about Lifebuoy. To gain credibility as a genuine PSA, it helps that Lifebuoy goes beyond itself. If not for the other brands, Lifebuoy can’t confidently claim the PSA-status.

And I think that framing worked in its favour! I have already got the ad as a visual in more than 3 WhatsApp Groups! A non-multi-brand ad may have elicited far fewer reactions given that the ad is not saying anything dramatically ground-breaking.

Clever advertising.

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