Modern Marketing Creativity News

Surf Excel’s Holi campaign makes social distancing warm and colourful


By Amit Bapna | Editor-at-large

March 29, 2021 | 5 min read

It is Holi time, that time of the year when the Indian festival of colours is celebrated every year with a burst of colours and festivity. However, this year’s festival is a sombre one, in the backdrop of the mixed impact of the pandemic in most parts of the country. On the occasion, and in keeping with every year' tradition, the consumer behemoth Hindustan Unilever Limited (HUL) launched a heart-warming and relevant brand campaign for its flagship detergent brand Surf Excel.

holi ad

Surf Excel's Holi ad

The film is around the premise of the brand’s positioning ‘Daag achhe hain’ or ‘Dirt is good’ which has been its tagline for over fifteen years now. The campaign shows an innocent boy who wishes to include an elderly neighbour (Rancho his friend) in the Holi celebrations. On realizing that Rancho cannot be included in the festivities like everyone else, because of the impact of the Covid-19 he devises an ingenious and responsible solution to celebrate with Rancho. The ingenuity of the boy and his empathy towards Rancho brings alive the festive spirit while underlining that physical distance should not deter emotional connections. The film has been conceptualized by creative director Carlos Pereira and made by the production house, Absolute Productions.

The Drum speaks to Prabha Narasimhan, executive director and VP – home care, South Asia, Hindustan Unilever to know more about how this festival campaign is different and relevant and how the brand plans to carry its ‘dirt is good’ proposition forward.

Celebrating a festival in times of distancing

While Holi is one of the biggest festivals in the country and we have done campaigns around the festival in the last two years, this year is a bit different as we are all still reeling from the effects of the pandemic, which has created both physical and emotional distances. Addressing the emotional needs of the vulnerable segment of the population, the campaign shows how young boy endeavours to include the elderly in the festive fervour through a simple yet creative way of making colours reach where hands cannot.

Link to the campaign:

What makes this festival campaign different?

The current Holi campaign takes forward the unique brand proposition and continues to use colours as a medium of ‘togetherness. This year, it shows how the colours of Holi can help bridge emotional distances and bring hearts closer, despite physical distancing. The uniqueness lies in the core of the campaign – to explore a way of connecting with people despite the obvious challenges of physical distancing.

Taking the ‘dirt is good’ positioning forward over the years

The campaign is a natural extension of our brand philosophy of ‘Dirt is good, in which we have always shown children getting dirty while doing good deeds and demonstrating good values. In our various campaigns over the past 15 years, the brand has championed ‘doing good’ by showing kids getting dirty.

Why getting stains and dirty has been good for the kids and for the brand too

We, as a brand, believe that children should have the freedom to get dirty. It is only then that they can truly learn and develop, and if kids get dirty in the process of doing something good, then dirt is good. Surf Excel’s communication platform evolves from this philosophy and in our various campaigns, the brand has championed ‘doing good’ by showing kids getting dirty while demonstrating good values like empathy for the less privileged, respect for elders, loyalty, caring and many other strong values. By ridding parents of their worry of stains, we have tried to become partners in enabling their children to learn while getting dirty.

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