March 20th-21st marked the celebration of Holi all around the world. Holi festival is a Hindu commemoration which celebrates spring, love and aims to bring people together. People around the world celebrate this joyful festival. Several cities now host events called Festival of Colours in reference to the color bombs which people throw at each other during Holi. As with other big celebrations, Holi presented an opportunity for brands to connect with consumers and launch specific marketing campaigns around the occasion. Our social analytics platform revealed how one brand, who aimed to hit an emotional chord with consumers, became the centre of attention online…
Surf Excel Ad Divides Opinion
Surf Excel, the famous detergent brand, launched an advert a few days before Holi. The ad promoted Surf’s cleaning products, a theme that the colour festival lends itself to. The premise of the video was to celebrate how the colours of Holi can be a force for good and bring people together. It promotes Hindu-Muslim harmony with the slogan Colours Unite (Rang laaye sang).
The video first shows a Hindu girl cycling in a street. She defies other children to throw Holi colors at her. The ad then reveals that the reason the little girl is doing this is to protect her Muslim friend. He needs to keep his white clothes clean to go to the mosque.
Although the ad was designed to send a positive message, as part of the brand’s decade long ‘Dirt is Good’ campaign, it divided opinion online. Our social analytics platform showed that the ad sparked debate between those who praised it – enjoying how it celebrated the unity of Indian people, no matter what their religion – and those who thought the advert was disrespectful to Hindus. Some claimed they canceled orders from the brand and urged others to do the same with the hashtag “#boycottSurfExcel”.
However, the detergent brand received support from several influencers and politicians such as Arfa Khanum, a famous Indian journalist. Indeed, they all agreed that the advert positively showed the diversity and multiculturalism of India. Moreover, our social analytics platform shows they slammed the calls to boycott the brand.
A day after Holi, a picture taken by a group of students generated hundreds of reactions online. The reason for that is that it echoed the Surf Excel’s ad narrative. The photo helped boost sentiment towards the brand as it showed that the advert was not far from reality.
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