This post comes in mail from one of my readers ... Jus go thru it. Hmmm , I have not yet recruited anyone to write for the blog, but freelancing is welcome.
Hindustan Lever – The Brand Murderer
The Levers’ office at Backbay reclamation in Mumbai has of late started resembling the concentration camps at Auschwitz. The only difference is that instead of Jews , the brands of the company are being systematically tortured and slaughtered.
Experimenting with the ‘Fair & Lovely’:- Initially it were the variants –dry skin, oily skin varieties in order to expand the user profile. But when this branched out into Ayurvedic Fair & Lovely with three variants the company walked into a self- destructive cycle. Any Brand manager would tell you that you cannot expand a brand into territories where its existence is questionable.’Fair & Lovely’ has everything to do with cosmetics , with getting fair , with a subtle western colour superiority and very little to do with Indian ayurveda. Yet, the Company went ahead with this execution which must have been carefully sculpted in power point presentations made by a new MBA who wanted to prove his mettle- the logic must have been generating more profits out of a brand (profit centre) .
Killing ‘Hamam’ Soap :- Hamam is a soap which would have sold by itself ;without any
advertisement , without any sales promotion. That’s because of the mass appeal of the brand and the variety of audience which identifies itself with this soap. It can be called as one of the first unisex product in India and has dominated for ages as the complete family soap. So much so that someone at Levers’ asked ‘If this soap sells by itself , what are we here for ?’.That started an entire repositioning of the brand –new packaging , new shape .To add to this disaster Hamam was enriched with extracts from neem , tulasi and aloe vera : come on guys you left out a lot of other fancy Indian cliches like badam , pista , sandal as well and give a soap which not even God can fathom !The guy who would have created this brand way back when it belonge dto TOMCO would be turning in his grave.
Taking the Life out of ‘Lifebuoy’ :- I cringe to think what Lifebuoy used to be and what it has been turned into. It was a Macho Soap – Larger than Life . Bathing in it represented eternal cleansing and the soap never looked like it shall get over. It was the sort of soap which men after driving in a truck over days would use to purify themselves from the dirt of the highways.I would like to meet the guy in Levers who suggested that this soap be diversified to cater to the needs of young female audience as a health soap- I would ask him one question ‘ Would you ask Harley Davidson to make an underpowered Luna moped and sell it as Little Boy ?’
Where is ‘Vim’ ? :- In a crazy exercise called Power Brands our chaps at Backbay destroyed some of their best niche brands. One such brand is Vim. This had immense brand recognition among housewives and was a useful Kitchen powder / soap for cleaning utensils. This brand had the power to be extended into a variety of kitchen and household products but it is being starved to death as the Company is more interested in selling products to villagers through internet kiosks.
‘Taj Mahal’ Disappears :- Why doesn’t ‘Taj Mahal’ Tea feature in the power brands category ? I hope it is not because Govt has asked Hindustan Lever to pay a royalty to use the Taj name or may be it’s the Tata group. Nevertheless , I drink this tea and wonder why the company is so stingy not to put their money behind such a wonderful product. The ad strategy with Ustad Zakir Hussain was one of the best and sucha unique brand does not deserve to be benched.
The stupid ‘Pepsodent’ ads : If children ever watched Pepsodent ads they would wonder how can somebody consider them to be so stupid ? The latest ad tells that Pepsodent fights ghosts in the night . Come on guys – grow up !No wonder Colgate is maintaining to its lead in the toothpaste segment irrespective of Pepsodent being certified by all the dentists ever born on this planet.
Packaging ‘Kissan’ : Walk into a aupermarket and try to pick up a Kissan product and you would understand how uninspiring the packaging looks. Kissan fruit squash looks worser than a mineral water bottle. Kissan Jam comes in an opaque green plastic box which proudly announces that its vitamin-enriched. And to add to it you have a tag –Annapurna behind the Kissan name which makes you wonder if Annapurna Salt or wheat comes free with this.
If HLL wanted power brands then why choose 35 . Three plus Five is equal to Eight which is the unluckiest number in the world. Even now if you think that luck is on HLL’s side then please read their slogans for miscellaneous brands :-
Lifebuoy – Making a Billion Indians Safe and Secure ( What ??????)
Breeze – Scent in Soap (As if we did not know ?)
Rin – Power of Dazzling Whiteness ( Okay !)
Fair & Lovely – Making Complexion Fairer ( And what else ?)
Red Label Tea – Cheers your senses ( I see!)
Bru – Happiness Begins with it ( And where does it end ?)
Ayush – Truth of Ayurveda , Proof of science ( This is too good !)
Hamam – Everything in life is about a balance ( Sounds like yoga classes !)
I would request all the readers to do what they can to save the brands of HLL and other companies using similar strategies at least for old times sake .These may be profit centres for them but they also are part of our childhood memories and they cannot do whatever they want with it.
P.S. I risk my job , incase my boss's boss 's boss decides to read and comment on this. He is an Ex HLL , with a loyalty as string as BRU COFFEEE