20 August 2015 15:26:41 IST

The advertising history of Liril

Is advertising enough for a brand to survive over a long period of time? Read on and find out

Which Indian does not know about Liril? It was launched in 1974 with great fanfare. And recollecting the brand is incomplete without the ‘girl in the waterfall’. Even without the benefit of social media, this commercial made waves. People even knew the model’s name, which was as much a testimony to the uniqueness of the commercial as to the absence of clutter in those days.

As a youngster in the 70s, which was before TV made it big in India, I watched the commercial in the cinema hall, like most people of that day and age. Here is a relook at that commercial. The follow up press ad encapsulates the brand’s promise of freshness, that has endured over the years.

Water and Liril: the romance continues

The girl and the waterfall continued their association with the brand as different models advertised for the brand in a different waterfall. Here are a couple of waterfall commercials (click here and here ).

Later commercials retained the water and the girl, even if they moved away from the waterfall. But the freshness, green and lime themes continued. Click here to watch the newer ad.

But they wanted to make something new. The agency wondered how they could make the commercial ‘different’, while retaining the key elements.

They figured moving to the desert, of all places, would be a good idea. While some people liked it, a few were critical, arguing who would waste water in the desert, where it is such a scarce commodity. Well, take a look here and make your own judgment.

Brand goes into variants

Clearly, the brand was getting tired as newer, younger brands crowded the marketplace and others names like Cinthol, edged in on the freshness platform with more media weight behind them. What did the brand do? Came up with variant; an icy mint variant. Click here to watch the commercial.

Then there was the orange variant, where a girl danced on the street with urchins in a scene that reminded South Indian audiences of Ilayaraja and a Tamil film. Watch this commercial here .

Then the brand went the ‘family’ way. Watch that, here .

Time for a remix

Now, after nearly four decades and numerous experiments, it was time for the brand to perhaps reinvent itself, after having gone through so many advertising avatars and executions. What do you think the brand did? Remixed itself!

To understand that, you must first know what a remix is. But I am sure you’re all familiar with remixed songs and movies. How often have we heard of famous songs of the 50s and 60s being redone with a fresh music track and same tune? Some people like it, as they have no attachment with the past and like listening to the tune that is set to a much faster beat — much in line with today’s pace.

The new Liril commercial is essentially a remix of the commercial of the 70s. Watch it here .

What did you think of it? Even if you hadn’t watched the old commercial, you could relate to it, but for someone like me, it is a throwback to my youth, as it might be for several others in their forties and fifties. Could this be the shape of things to come? Let us wait and watch.

So what does the brand’s history teach us?

Liril is a marketing and advertising case study and that’s the first thing we must place on record. It is something that people of my generation liked and admired; it is a famous brand which is just short of iconic!

The brand had multiple associations, some of which became properties, like the girl, waterfall, freshness, the music track, green and lime. The problem with some of these commercials is that over a period of time, as you have more and more properties associated with the brand, it leaves very little scope for creativity.

In the early years, most executions looked alike and people felt they had seen the commercial before. Now, the brand seems to have done a full circle and rather than looking for a fresh creative outlook, they have re-done their 40-year-old commercial. A remix of the 70s commercial!

Very often, brands look towards advertising alone to provide difference over years and yet, this can be almost impossible to achieve over a long period of time, if the product remains the same.

With marketplace getting more and more crowded with newer, sexier offerings, the solution has to be in the product, not merely in the advertising. Is the brand relying too much on advertising?

Will the new commercial deliver the goods? Only time will tell. But the lesson that history teaches us is there, as students of marketing and advertising, for us to mull over.

What’s your key take away from the Liril story?

To read more from the Third Umpire section, click here .