Iconic Ads: Liril – Come Alive with Freshness

The Liril girl was created. She had a vibrant personality, sparkling eyes, and a contagious smile. She had no fear of the world and could swim, dance, and have a good time.

The Project

In the early 70s, a team of managers at Levers, worked on a project to create a ‘freshness’ soap in the premium price segment. They tried a blue soap. A brainstorming session by Shunu Sen was held to find out what freshness meant: being sprayed with a jet of water, icy blue and the like, they came up with the freshness of mountain breeze. While test marketing in Nashik and Indore, the blue Liril flopped. So, they relooked at it and came to a green marbled lime soap.

But marketing a lime soap, the first of its kind in India, was a harder problem. Lintas was called.

The Research

Lintas’ research revealed that the Indian housewife only had time for herself during her daily bath, fantasizing about her favourite Bollywood actor. “She wanted to escape, and her shower in the bathroom was emblematic of this, where she momentarily forgot her problems as a housewife and simply enjoyed her bath,” Alyque Padamsee stated.

The Liril Girl

That gave Neena Merchant & Alyque the idea that a fantasy could be created where the lady could escape emotionally when she was having a bath. The waterfall was a metaphor for the bathroom shower. Initially, the sea was suggested but it was the film-maker who felt a waterfall would be better

As a young boy, Alyque loved watching Tarzan films and his girlfriend, Jane. She always used to have a bath under a waterfall and come out looking so fresh. He adopted that idea since Liril was all about freshness.

Most of the other soaps talked about complexion, pimples etc. Liril wanted to talk about bathing as an experience creating a fresh new woman.

The Liril girl was created. She had a vibrant personality, sparkling eyes, and a contagious smile. She had no fear of the world and could swim, dance, and have a good time. She appealed to the senses. The goal wasn’t to make her seem sensual, but rather to portray her as a fun girl.

The Production

Kailash Surendranath was handed the task of filming this commercial.

A model coordinator, Naju Karani, had seen Karen Lunel working in a boutique. Surendranath met 18-year-old Karen Lunel at the US Club in Bombay. ‘Dipy’s’, a juice brand, commissioned an ad film with her because of her vivacity and exuberance. Liril’s film director Surendranath was impressed by Lunel’s bikini-clad appearance in the commercial.

Lintas had auditioned 100s of girls, but only Karen fit the bill. She was a swimming champion, and she was the only one who could keep her eyes open underwater. Although she wasn’t the most beautiful girl of the lot, she had a charming smile, and she loved frisking about. Plus she suited one special requirement of Alyque, she had a relatively flat chest. He did not want a voluptuous girl. He would then be hounded for vulgarity.

Kailash visited many places for the apt waterfall, and finally settled for the Pambar waterfall was at Kodaikanal (it is rechristened as the Liril Falls now).

The problem was the shoot was in Dec- Jan, which is peak winter in Kodai. So Karen would jump in the water, take a shot, take a swig of brandy, and get wrapped up in towels and blankets to keep warm. She did this repeatedly. People appreciated her excitement in the film but in fact, she was shivering and her teeth chattering.

Vanraj Bhatia scored the music which is hummed even now. It is an Indianised version of the Fa jingle. The track, Laa lalala laa lalala laaa laalaalaa was sung by Preeti Sag ar


These ads worked at a subliminal level & appealed to the consumers’ latent desires. The voice-over amplifies the message of freshness.

The feedback was great. Women identified with Karen and many said Karen could be their daughter.

It’s a sign of youthful enthusiasm, as well as a statement of freedom and youth. Its sonic branding is as important as the visual, logo, and line in terms of influencing the consumer.

Even just hearing the tune transported women to a new world of freshness and freedom.
Within a year of its launch, Liril established itself as the market leader in the area of ‘premium freshness soaps.’

Lunel remained the face of Liril from 1974 to 1985, the longest for any Liril girl.

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