Iconic Ads: Surf Excel- Daag Acche Hain

This gave a different perspective to the category where other brands spoke about benefits. Surf, to the contrary, was saying stains are good!

Surf had been through huge successful campaigns like Lalitaji & Dhoondte Rah Jaoge. In 2004, the brands’ growth had stagnated. There was competition from various flanks.

At the same time, the “Dirt is Good” campaign had been released in Brazil, and efforts were being made to bring it to India, but there was scepticism as dirt isn’t good!

Gopal Vittal (now CEO Airtel) and Sudhir Sitapati (now CEO Godrej) were part of the brand team. Gopal suggested talking about values because moms want to instil values in kids. As kids grow older, they also stop sharing all the happenings in their lives with their mothers. The stains on their clothes tell stories of what transpired. And that was the starting point for Lintas.

Brainstorming, the team came up with many stories, and one day Preeti Nair, Balki and Arun Iyer were sitting in the office at night when an idea occurred – if a kid gets hurt at the table, people/ parents punish the table for what happened. Likewise, it was extended to stains. And the story was created.

Once they had the idea, they shared it immediately with the brand team, which was having dinner at the restaurant Olive (the meeting was scheduled for the next day actually).

There was nervousness when the line Daag Achhe Hain was coined as this was a literal translation of Dirt is Good. Lintas felt it was too easy and simple, but then the line prevailed.

The line gave a different perspective to the category where other brands spoke about features/benefits, like the need to remove stains, being spotless, etc., and Surf, to the contrary, was saying stains are good!

Arun had written two scripts. One was featuring the kids only and without the trappings of a homemaker, and the other one had an old man scolding the boy for getting dirty, with the kid’s mom stepping in to say that getting dirty had a larger reason.

Lintas was inclined to the kids one though, as they felt there were too much to the old man story. The clients were hesitant because, for the first time, a detergent ad would not have a mother, no product window and no stain being removed!

The decision was taken to shoot both. Abhinay Deo shot both films in Ooty.

The old man film was not shown to the client. Finally, the kids’ film was released, even though the response of the research was tepid (fortunately, the results came after the film was released).

Needless to say, the kids commercial rewrote how detergent advertising should be done and became a huge hit!

Finally, Daag Acche Hain!

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