Iconic Ads: Classroom – Mentos

This commercial changed the fortunes of Mentos in India. Mentos Zindagi became famous after this.

For years, funny & smart Mentos commercials were not missed because they advertised what the product could (albeit tongue-in-cheek) do, not the product itself.

Worldwide, Mentos was positioned as The Freshmaker. This was used in India when Mentos was launched in 1999.

But in 2003, it was renamed with a more regionally relevant tagline, “Dimag Ki Battii Jala De!” by Ogilvy. The Freshmaker concept was adapted to more in terms of ‘Thinking Fresh’.

In 2005, all peppermint candies had similar ‘getting smart’ concepts, though Mentos was the first to take the line. Mentos’s advertising was similar to Mint-O and this confused the consumers. Mint- O and Polo were mint flavoured like Mentos, but they were hard compressed, unlike Mentos which was a soft chew.

Perfetti was debating whether Mentos was a good fit for the Indian market and was considering discontinuing it. Jignesh Maniar of Ogilvy, on the other hand, was confident in the product and urged Perfetti to give it another shot before deciding whether it was worth continuing. He was certain that we could make magic.

Targetting the 15 – 24-year-olds, it was decided not to take the functional benefit but psychological where people associate Mentos with smartness.

All other commercials of mint confectionary brands had the main protagonist as a nerd but Jignesh tried to flip it by using a street smart person.

He also wanted to make it a larger platform – a smarter way of living! And then it struck him with a line ‘Aam Zindagi, Mentos Zindagi.’

Jignesh and his team identified many problems and then looked for smart cheeky solutions. He recollects that he had written around 40 scripts. Finally when it was given to Sameer Suneja of Perfetti, 3 were shortlisted.

But the story did not end there. After the pre-production meeting was completed, Jignesh went back to a very surprised Sameer that he was still not satisfied, and wanted to hold on a while. One of the very rare instances where the creative director did not go ahead with production even after the client approval.

Soon enough, Jignesh came back with the now famous classroom film. He also told Sameer that he would shoot only one film and not three.

It was a new way of saying it. This Mentos commercial depicted a real-life event that a majority of the audience could connect. The earlier commercials showed a ‘before-and-after’ scenario, but that changed with this advertisement. The commercial established the notion of ‘Aam Zindagi vs. Mentos Zindagi,’ which featured two variants of the same circumstance — ‘this versus that’ vs. ‘this after that.

Assisting Jignesh was Kapil Sawant. This was filmed by Rajesh Krishnan at the Sophia College.

The fortunes of Mentos were transformed as a result of this advertisement.

Many thanks to Jignesh for updating me on the Mentos story!

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