Why it is my best campaign
The Saint-Gobain “Black women” television commercial (TVC), of which I was a part while working at Lowe Lintas & Partners in 2000, is one of my finest campaigns as this presented a different and difficult problem to solve. When the campaign was launched in 2000, glass was a commodity and it still is. Saint-Gobain is one of the largest manufactures of float glass on the planet and arguably the best in terms of technology and quality standards. But the Indian glass industry did not adhere to international standards, it was using primitive technology and, thus, ended up producing inferior quality glass.
Against such a market scenario, the question was how can you launch a hi-tech, hi-quality product that costs a bomb and bears a brand name that has never been heard before. Moreover, many people in the south and north of India thought it was a new Ludhiana brand called Sant Gobind.
Client’s brief to the agency
Since we were launching the world’s No 1 glass brand in India, the brief was to establish the credentials as an international brand and create a high recall for the Saint-Gobain name/identity.
Saint-Gobain didn’t have a big budget as the company had spent most of its money that year announcing the factory inauguration. With a low production and media budget, one had to produce a high impact and high quality campaign; the task sounded like an oxymoron, but we went ahead and were able to do just that.
The first task was to give the campaign an international look and feel. The next was to have a campaign that can connect with every man, women and child of this country. The goal, therefore, was to have a simple yet relatable story.
Since we had very little money to produce an international looking film, we shot the commercial at the backyard of Renaissance Hotel in Powai, Mumbai, with local Chinese extras and a visiting carpet exporter from Africa. The entire cost of production was as little as Rs 8 lakh. Thanks to Ram Madhwani, director of the television commercial, everything worked out like we wanted.
Other routes we considered
One had the option of choosing a high precision, high quality product route, talking to the trade and architects, or talk about the French heritage of the company or the mystery around the bridge logo. We also had an unconventional option of treating an industrial commodity as a consumer product and position accordingly.
The route chosen; why
We chose to go with the consumer route rather than the commodity route. We wanted to be the image leader and find a place in the hearts and minds of people. Hence, we went with a generic category positioning of clear glass with the tagline, “The future of glass. Since 1665.”
We felt the only way we could shift the market from commodity to branded premiumness is by talking to the end consumers and not the architects, traders or the middlemen. If we spoke to the consumer, willy-nilly we would be talking to the architects, the interior designers and the traders as regular human beings.
The brand flew off the shelves and Saint-Gobain became a household name. The aided recall was around 90 per cent and unaided was around 50 per cent in the first six months alone. It was among the top three popular campaigns of 2000 by a poll conducted by India Today and Agencyfaqs.
Above all, the campaign helped Saint- Gobain get instant market and mind leadership. It was a campaign that created demand for distribution, with our partners wanting to sell branded glass. In fact, the campaign gained so much popularity that in a subsequent R Madhavan Tamil film, the actor essayed the role of an advertising executive, and when asked by those who didn’t understand what he did for a living in the film, he responded by telling them he created the Saint-Gobain commercial.
Will it work today?
It is still working, my clients along with my partner R Balki (R Balakrishnan, chairman and chief creative officer of Lowe Lintas) are continuing the good work by extending the charming personality to other product categories like mirrors and reflective glass. It has even been used in 16-18 international markets, owing to its universal appeal.
National Creative Director, Leo Burnett India