Monday, August 27, 2007

Ad Watch - 1: Liril Girl...

Hi friends

I was going through a couple of quiz questions and saw that many of the questions were related to advertisements of the yesteryears. some of them are very famous, others are classics. I have decided to write about one advertisement each time I learn about one. I am using the Internet as a reference!

The first ad that comes to any man's mind when he thinks about the most beautiful girls on India Television is that of the Liril Girl. It was supposed to be the hottest ad in the early 80’s - the image of a girl drenched under the falls wearing only bikini. The ad was all about waterfalls, abundant water and the girl splashing about in total abandon singing “la…la la la laaa..”!!

The first Liril-girl was a bright young lady named Karen Lunel-Hishey (picture shown on the left). She has worked as an airhostess for Air India (apparently she was on duty in the flight when Rajiv Gandhi celebrated his birthday on his way back from USSR in 1988) and later became a DJ for Times FM. She is married to Tibetan Tashi Hishey and has a 18-year old son, Scott. She was the chief training executive for a private airline and now trains batches of cabin crew to serve passengers perfectly.

Karen looks the same after nearly 30 years of this great ad. Her figure is lithe, her eyes dance with excitement and her narrations are picturesque and full of life. How the hell did anyone succeed in pulling out such an innovative concept? Was it luck or did it involve any bold strategy?

At least 30 years ago, a team of managers was appointed by Jagdish Chopra , the then MD of HLL, to create freshness soap in premium price segment attempted a blue soap that promised fresh mountain breeze. A brainstorming session steered by the late marketing guru Shunu Sen was held to find out what freshness meant: like walking barefoot on marble, being sprayed with a jet of water, like icy blue and the like, they came up with icy blue. While test marketing in Nashik and Indore, the blue Liril failed and the idea had to be shelved.

Next, they took the help of a young, British marketing head and created a green marble soap. It was a regular lime soap owned by HLL. The team’s aim was to get into households with a bang. Extensive research conducted on young women and housewives helped them gain an interesting insight:

"It was found that an average Indian woman who lived with her husband’s family had to undergo a lot of pressures in her daily life due to her responsiblities towards her family and the household. Apparently the only time she had for herself was the 10-15 minutes that she was in the shower. "

This thought provoked the Liril advertisement created by Neena Merchant , with the help of Alyque Padamsee , the then Director of Lintas featuring a green swimsuit clad girl, frolicking enthusiastically under a waterfall. The first liril ad was a masterpiece of its own calibre. It was shot in Kodaikanal at a waterfall a little beyond Guna caves.

The moment of liberation that Liril provided was well accepted by the women of India and not only the ad became popular; Liril became premium soap overnight. The brand became a market leader in the category of ’premium freshness soaps’ within a year of its launch. Karen Lunel reigned for a long time and was succeeded by Anoosha Dalal and many more including Preity Zinta and even Deepika Padukone. But even though the scenes, girls and the choreography changed, a part of the original music was still retained.
The era has changed and many new girls have portrayed the Liril girl. But the ad and the brand name it created will remain etched in the mind of the Indian male for years to come. Any new insights into this ad will be deeply appreciated as comments to this post.


P.S. I am not much into women, but Karen is not just another brainless beauty. She is religious and very-much family oriented. My respect and admiration for her life has been growing since!

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