Hidden Nuggets: Polo – What’s Your Hole Story?

Rather than focus on the benefits like other brands, it was decided that Polo would focus on the ‘hole’ and the story around it

The first decade of the 2000s saw big brand wars in the gum, mint and breath fresheners market. Everybody was doing funny ads selling fresh breath, flavour etc. Brand recall became difficult as the points of difference—the benefits that set each brand apart from the competition was practically similar or non-existent.

With this background, the brand team at Nestle and their communication partners Lowe Lintas sat together and decided that they would not get swayed by what was being played out in the category – the game of fresh breath.

Uday Rao, leading the creative team at Lintas, recounts.

“Because it was too basic a delivery, a table stake, it was decided to focus on creating communication that garners a high brand recall using the distinctive shape that Polo had – the mint with the hole.

Arriving at this decision wasn’t tough, but the real challenge was cracking an idea that was different from what Polo had already done the world over. Anything that crossed our minds was already done by someone somewhere. And some of the key decision-makers at Nestle’s brand team like Mr Himmat Singh (a smiling, gentle giant) ably assisted by the chirpy Saumya Mishra were well aware of what Polo had already done globally and would reject ideas without even making the creative team realise that it wasn’t liked.

After several attempts, we decided to open up the brief to everyone at Lintas. Everybody wanted to throw in their ideas every single day and as a creative director on the brand, I and the Account Director, Sonali Khanna had the tough task of filtering those ideas without killing the enthusiasm.

During one of those high voltage action days, I was on iChat with my brother and he asked me a question why does Polo have a hole???…F@$* !!! that’s an idea! Why not pitch this question to all kinds of people and see what they have to say…let’s crack a series.

I immediately bounced it off Sonali. She was equally excited and started rattling off a long list of characters who could give us interesting answers.

And so the new series ‘What’s your hole story?’ was born.

Both the internal teams and the team at Nestle were convinced that we were onto something interesting and needed very little convincing.

The series of films were directed by the jovial and talented Pushy (Pushpendra Mishra of Flying Saucers). Fortunately, the communication worked well for the brand.

According to a survey done by MINT (a financial daily published by HT Media), the brand recall for Polo was 97% amidst all the high decibel advertising that was happening across categories those days.”

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