A cliché that bears repeating is that an ad needs to communicate a single-minded message in a memorable way. Many creators of ads seem to forget this — so the Fevicol campaign serves as a refresher course. Let’s remember that this is why Fevicol ads have stood the test of time. I was relooking at them while answering these questions, and they still look fresh.
There is a beguiling simplicity to Fevicol work. While the storytelling is clean and simple, one should not miss the sophistication inherent to it: Instead of literally showing the Fevicol bond using household articles, the campaign takes it to a metaphorical level.
I hear a lot of advertisers say that their consumer won’t ‘get it’ unless the product usage is shown literally. Yet, so many years ago, Fevicol ads overcame this smartly by bringing in the context of carpentry in ads such as the egg one, but then handling the messaging of the unbreakable bond symbolically. Later, even the context of carpentry was no longer required, so well-established was the brand idea in consumers’ minds.
What do you think was the key idea the campaign was trying to drive home?
This campaign single-mindedly drove the message of the ultimate bond, helping the brand firmly occupy the category high-ground.
Do you remember the campaign winning any advertising awards? Do you think these awards serve any purpose?
The campaign has won many well-deserved advertising awards, including the prestigious Cannes Lion for the ‘Bus’ film. More than one study has shown that ads recognised for their creativity tend to be far more effective than run-of-the-mill ads. This is something that is worth thinking about in today’s data-obsessed world. Use data, by all means. But don’t think of it as a substitute for creativity.
Another important role of awards is to motivate the ad folks that create them — these people put in a disproportionate amount of effort in their jobs. The recognition keeps them going and pushes them to do better. In a world where advertising creativity is being valued less and less by clients, these awards take on greater significance.
Sometimes because of the humour/emotion in a campaign, there is greater recall for the story than the product or service advertised. Do you feel this was the case with the Fevicol campaign?
This is one of those debates that will go on forever. I think that if this flaw were true of Fevicol, then we wouldn’t be remembering their classic ads so many years later. And the brand wouldn’t be where it is today. The answer is simple: If your story is relevant to the brand, then the brand will not be forgotten. Some advertisers put their brand colours all over an ad and count how many times the brand was mentioned. I am not talking about that. The brand could appear briefly in an ad — but in a key role — and it would be remembered.
Did this campaign inspire any of your work? What are your takeaways from the campaign?
Just as one of the Fevicol ads says, “Pakde rehna, chhodna nahin”, when you have a great brand idea, don’t let go of it. I find that advertisers who research the impact of their ads from moment to moment, miss out on this big picture. I have seen a number of cases where a client quickly decides that an ad or campaign idea is not working. They ask the agency to start working on a new campaign idea (or worse still they sack the agency). By the time the new campaign is released, the old campaign actually has started showing good results—because it has had enough time to do so. So my take-out from Fevicol advertising is, “Don’t be short-sighted. Pakde rehna, chhodna nahin”.
I have attempted to emulate the wit, simplicity and singlemindedness of Fevicol wherever I have got the opportunity.
Do you remember some of the names who worked on the campaign?
While many people have worked on Fevicol, Piyush Pandey is synonymous with the campaign. It is his genius that brought magic to the brand. It is probably the campaign he is best known for — and, as far as I know, his personal favourite too. The other key player is Prasoon Pandey, who directed many of the great ads. This partnership is a lesson in how great chemistry between director and creative director can do wonders for a brand’s advertising.
What else could have been done to make the campaign better?
I wouldn’t presume to improve upon greatness. I would, in fact, say that in this digital age, where people will skip any communication that doesn’t engage them, great storytelling is all the more crucial for a brand to gain traction. So let’s be inspired by Fevicol to create communication that’s sticky enough to keep consumers glued.
A timeless ‘ad’hesive
While the storytelling is clean and simple, one should not miss the inherent sophistication
Year of launch: 1998