Iconic Ads: Le Sancy – Rahul Pani Chala Jayega

Kids were named Rahul after this advertisement.

A 10-year-old kid danced to a song in the bathroom. Rather than having a quick shower, he continues until we hear his mother saying, “Rahul! Pani Chala Jayega!”. Rahul instead raises the volume and continues dancing. And the water runs out. His mom, irritated, says, Rahul! Kaha tha na paani chala jayega!”

The voice over said “Is duniya mein, jahan kuch nahin chalta, wahan shukr hai Le Sancy to hai.”

Le Sancy was a soap with a unique shape that was launched in the 90s, after success in Chile for 20 years. It had a unique round shape and was known for its longevity which was its USP.

Ogilvy led by Piyush Pandey, Sonal Dabral and his team worked on this closely with Harish Manwani of Unilever (who later became COO).

With an unusual name, Ogilvy had doubts whether Indians could remember the name. So Sonal came up with some quirky print advertising comparing Le Sancy to other soaps like Le Soggy, Le Tiny etc. (The print campaign was replicated in international markets and won the Unilever chairman’s award that year).

The commercial was directed by Ram Madhvani.

It resonated with moms who had to shout at their kids while taking a bath. Then, water was scarce in many parts and the film compared the soap with things that were scarce and should be conserved, hence Pani Chala Jayega.

The target was families who aspired to a better life, and they connected with the campaign. The recall was great, and initially, sales were tremendous. It was a status symbol to say you had a bath with Le Sancy.

Despite a great campaign, the sales petered out.

Unilever researched consumers’ stated preferences but ignored their actual requirements. Le Sancy’s positioning was poor when competing soap brands emphasised health, wellness, cleanliness, beauty, etc. Attempting to portray concern for cost-consciousness backfired. The brand guaranteed high quality, but that’s what brands are for, right?

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