Forgotten Brands – Le Sancy

le sancy soap

There was no soap in the ’90s that sold as well as Le Sancy.
Its decline was as precipitous as its ascent, unfortunately.

There was a time when the name “Rahul” became popular. All because the advertising featured a carefree-looking Rahul bopping about the toilet to some tunes on the radio. A constant stream of water from the shower is heard in the background, soaking the bar of soap. Rahul ignores his mother’s repeated warnings that the water supply cut was imminent, he takes his own sweet time while listening to music in the bathroom. The water supply is cut off, as was certain to happen. The last words from his mother resound through the house: “Rahul Maine kaha than na, pani chala jayega!” (I told you, Rahul, the water will run out!)

The soap was Le Sancy from Unilever.

Launched after 20 years of success in Chile, Le Sancy was a soap with a distinctive shape. The fact that the brand launched in Chile in 1971 added an extra layer of intrigue. It had a successful strategy when it entered the Indian market in 1990.

The unique selling proposition of this bar of soap was its form and the resultant durability. It competed solely based on its design, and its marketing aimed to persuade buyers that using the product would be like a “bath like never before.”

Also earlier, Ogilvy questioned whether or not Indians would remember such a strange name. In print ads, they made fun of other soaps by contrasting Le Sancy with them, such as Le Soggy and Le Tiny. (The print ad campaign was so successful that it was rolled out in other countries and earned that year’s Unilever chairman’s award.)

Le sancy logo

For the advertising please visit –

The soap sold out quickly with the hoopla surrounding its introduction. The soap came in a special package due to its unusual shape, and this packaging often got mangled in transit. But initially, it was successful, capturing 30% of the market.

And later it fizzled out.

Unilever investigated consumers’ stated preferences but ignored their actual requirements. Le Sancy’s positioning was poor when competing soap brands emphasised health, wellness, cleanliness, beauty, etc. The symbolism of cost-consciousness and longevity was ineffective.

It is recognised that if a product doesn’t provide value to the customer or satisfy a need, it will fail no matter how much money is spent on promoting it.

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