The idea was to embrace the “new” in every way – the new granulated form product story, the new consumer set/mindset story and the several new touches in the film treatment itself.
I do believe that Nestle Sunrise is a case study where the classic “new, improved” product story (much exploited in those days!) was turned into a huge property and the start of a whole new brand conversation. Back then, the term brand storytelling hadn’t been invented – but that’s exactly what this was. This was a special kind of brand experience – and the longevity of the campaign is emblematic of that.
I was briefed by the best in the business – Alex Kuruvilla (renowned account management head) and Meera Patwardhan (stalwart planning head) from JWT (then HTA) Delhi. The category being coffee, it was only natural that the South was the epicentre of research – and insights driven from focus groups in states like Tamil Nadu pretty much informed the brief. I had just moved from Bangalore to Madras (now Chennai) and this brief was among the first that landed on my desk.
Essentially, the new Sunrise was in a granulated form which led to a much better flavour, aroma and a distinct improvement in taste. But I think the difference we made went beyond the product to signal a shift in the new consumer set we represented on screen. The reason why the campaign worked on so many subliminal levels is that it showcased a young, aspiring couple in a newly-created, nuclear family. We set the narrative in the simple joys and delightful surprises of early married life – making it part of an exciting discovery process. It was almost as if the brand was integral to “new sunrise moments” in the couple’s journey.
The idea was to embrace the “new” in every way – the new granulated form product story, the new consumer set/mindset story and the several new touches in the film treatment itself. The launch campaign had 3 films – promotion/appointment letter, setting up home, festive shopping. It was quickly followed up with one of a host of extension ideas I had – finding and raising a puppy. In fact, I remember I had a rather long list of amplifications laddering up to the moment when they discover a baby is on the way!
Bharatbala was the undisputed director – we had worked on many brands together and he was also the go-to choice of JWT Delhi. His cinematic finesse, his eye for framing, the appetite appeal of his product shots and the slickness of his edits added a magical dimension to the films. It was one of the bold film campaigns of its time to start with the brand window – and yet it amped-up the emotional quotient and human values of the brand. The films basked in positivity and a warm glow of togetherness – Bharatbala truly created and captured that sunshine.
The casting played a huge role in the success of the campaign. All we needed were two actors – but they were actors who could make or break the films. We got it right. Humayun Peerzada came across as a strong, responsible presence, who enjoyed indulging his wife. Suchitra Krishnamoorthi was the epitome of spontaneity, vivaciousness and optimism. She was the “instant” to his “strength” and together they made a heady brew.
The element of playful banter we built in worked like a charm too – and both Humayun and Suchitra added their little touches of impromptu fun to bring it all alive. I remember Bharatbala creating a lovely moment on set where Humayun has his headphones on and is lost in music – Suchitra brings a cup of coffee close to his face, he gets a strong hit of the aroma and he opens his eyes. A very simple yet evocative way to tease in the wafting temptation of great coffee.
Looking back, when I came up with the theme line “There’s a new sunrise in your life” it seemed too good to be true – even to me! It was simple, it integrated the brand name, it cued the product improvement, but, more importantly, it stood for all the promise and possibilities in the young couple’s future. It ticked the two key boxes I still judge all work on – resonance and relevance.
Needless to say, the jingle skyrocketed the films to another stratosphere. When I wrote the lyrics, I imagined a host of scenarios and cameo moments that the couple would go through together. Simplicity in thought was essential – but setting the mood was imperative. Leslie Lewis added his musical flair and genius and the rest is history. Many years later when I relocated to London, I could still hear the strains of the jingle playing on Indian channels on the telly. A good sonic signature has that lasting impact and that rare ability to build brand affinity – and I am happy I was part of this one.
One of the moments I remember now is the simple tweak we did to the lyrics. I had originally written it as “Me and you, making dreams come true” and “Me and you sharing something new”. We just turned “Me and you” into “Two of you” and made it outward-facing. This made a huge difference as it suddenly became inclusive. Our target group began to see themselves in the films and began rooting for the young pair. It made it easier for subsequent campaign extensions to leap from the curiosity of the “what next” in their lives and the empathy generated in these refreshing “new sunrise moments”.
Back in the day, I was among the first to shoot my films overseas – at locations in Paris, London and Oman. But this campaign – shot in Madras at a charming home in Neelankarai (that incidentally belonged to a friend of Bharatbala’s and mine) – was extra-special. It was largely shot indoors but it created a wonderful world of its own. If I recall correctly, it was shot in under three days because every detail was thought through and we didn’t have a single hitch or glitch along the way.
1989 is way back in my creative career – and I must have filed it away and archived it in some remote corner of my mind. But being asked to write this piece now, out of the blue, just brought a smile to my face and an inexplicable warm, fuzzy feeling. Am I having a “new sunrise moment”?
A special thanks to Meera Sharath Chandra, who agreed to share her thoughts on this iconic campaign
Meera Sharath Chandra is the Founder CEO & Chief Creative Officer of Tigress Tigress. She is a communications professional with over three and a half decades of global experience. An award-winner, keynote speaker and jury member at all leading international festivals – Cannes Lions, Clio, Art Directors Club, One Show, New York Fest, D&AD, Caples – she has worked in large international agency networks across continents and has been on their global task forces. Having led both the creative function and the overall business – as ECD and MD – she has always stood for cutting edge creativity with demonstrable accountability. Now as entrepreneur and founder of Tigress Tigress – a digital-led integrated communications agency – she finds her sweet spot in using behavioural economics, new revenue stream creation, category niche opportunities, multicultural marketing and purpose branding, to create startling differentiations and super-charged consumer-brand connects all over the world.
Recently, Meera has authored a book on the new consumer-brand dynamic.
The Me Era®
Marketing in an age when
consumers are the real brands.
And brands are the real consumers.
The book is free to download at https://bit.ly/2ZQR3ik
– her way of giving back in these tough times.
Meera Sharath Chandra
Founder CEO & Chief Creative Officer