Mohabbat Kare Khush Rahe Muskuraye: How Anchor changed toothpaste advertising!

Quick question: When I say oral care products advertising what comes to your mind? Most common answers: doctors in white lab coats, cute children in dentists’ chambers, cute children talking to their parents in metaphors about tooth decay (daanto me saDan!), people holding their cheeks because their gums/teeth hurt, and lots of information about roots of the teeth, gums, salt content, fluoride content, whitening strips and what not.

Too much information, then some more information, then scaring the audience (especially children) about the scenario in absence of the product.

How about some positiveness people? How about some classic emotional advertising? Something smart? Something snappy in thought, not just execution?

Well, here you go:

Video shared on YouTube by richacsaxena

Anchor, a very new entrant in the already over-saturated, over-crowded toothpaste market, that bored us with their Kajol-asking-when-you-changing-your-toothpaste-huh-huh advertisements in the past, turns a new leaf and does the daring but smart job of breaking the clutter by going back to the basics.

Too much jargon eh? Not really.

The ad became an instant hit with many advertising professionals I know, and whenever I played it back to anyone I knew, the instant reaction when the ad ended was never short of “wow!”

So, what works here?

  1. Back to basics: advertising at the very basic is a sales pitch delivered emotionally. It has to be engaging & fun. Because if you bore your customer he will not listen to you. And it has to have a story. Because who doesn’t love a story? Apart from lukewarm “my dentist papa says XXX prevents tooth decay” ads, there have hardly been any stories in oral care ads. We have been bombarded with component messages (triclosan anyone?), fake (as in actors playing) doctors endorsing the products on TV, and lately a father talking to his kid about oral care (which is somewhat interesting, and can be a topic of another post), but none of them comes even close to what this is.
  • The story: it is a story. A complete story. A story in the truest sense. There’s a hot wife, obviously madly in love with her husband, baking something, obviously for her husband. We get to see the husband momentarily in the photo-frame which she kisses out of overflowing love. The context is set. The mood is set. And then as a consequence to an accident arising out of her happy & carefree moves, we see the disastrous obstacle she (and her husband) has to face now: the cake is hard as stone! It’s so bad that it creates a dent in the refrigerator’s door! It’s so bad that it causes the tiles on the floor to crack ! Then we see the husband, a clearly average looking guy (played by Sharib Hashmi) – a clear contrast from the hot model wife he has, and the way they hug and are happy together, you start wondering how is this even possible. He is happy to see that his darling wife has baked a cake for him, and he lunges at it. The wife, who by now is clearly aware of the obstacle, tries to stop her dear husband from trying to eat the cake and losing his teeth, but stops short when she sees the miracle! The husband effortlessly bites into the cake, and overcomes the obstacle like a true hero! “How is that even possible?”, you think, forgetting your original dilemma of the unmatched pair. It is at this moment that the product comes in, and you get to know that it is in fact a toothpaste commercial – Anchor is the ally which helps our hero defeat the evil “stone” cake.
  • Suspension of disbelief: suspension of disbelief is a potent tool to engage the audience – it keeps them thinking and wondering. Like the dinosaurs living alongside humans in The Flintstones. Like the ultra-modern weapons in medieval looking arenas in the Quake franchise. The first disbelief moment is the husband-wife pair – everyone wonders what has this guy done to get such a wife, and then everyone wonders how is she so in love with him. The audience is so engaged wondering and thinking that they are now not taking their eyes off the screen. The second disbelief moment is the obviously exaggerated strong teeth our hero has. However ludicrous it looks, it engages you, and gets the message across.
  • Story-like tension and relief: a happy scene becomes tense when you see that her ultimate symbol of love for her husband (with two sweet pink candy hearts on top!) is in reality a nemesis for human teeth, and then it’s released when you find that the hero of a husband brushes with Anchor daily in order to be able to take such minor obstacles in his stride effortlessly.
  • Benefit: Strong, healthy teeth – that also are shiny white (as seen in every frame that the man smiles in – his dark complexion helps here). What else do you need from a toothpaste? Very strongly communicated, with such a sweet emotional backdrop. You won’t forget this message for a long time!
  • Underlying message: you know what proposition Axe sells on, right (nudge, nudge, wink, wink)? Now here’s an average-looking guy, who has a hot model of a wife swooning over him, using her half-baked (forgive the pun) skills to make him a cake, and worrying over the fate of his teeth, and he turns into a hero – for her and everyone else – due to this product we have here – Anchor toothpaste. This guy is a winner, and he uses this product. Why wouldn’t you?
  • Life connect: a toothpaste is an integral part of one’s life, not just a product comprising of chemicals who is supposed to “stop tooth decay” because your dentists says so. The health of your teeth affects your life. But instead of going the “ouch my teeth hurt because I didn’t use XXX toothpaste”, we have a positive story that says “look how awesome my life is, and how I am nothing short of a hero, because I use XXX toothpaste”. And of course our hero & his wife are happy once again, thanks to our product!
  • The production values: excellent execution. But what did you expect from a certain god called Prasoon Pandey?
  • The soundtrack: I love this part. The old Noorjehan song works as the perfect backdrop for the dreamy-eyed love story we witness, and the phrase “mohabbat kare khush rahe muskuraye” works well for the category – love, be happy and smile.

While I was writing this, I was wondering who the agency was, and only one name was repeating in my mind: Ogilvy. I confirmed it, and it is Ogilvy India. Love them for bringing in a breath of fresh air in the (ironically) stale category of toothpaste advertising.

2 thoughts on “Mohabbat Kare Khush Rahe Muskuraye: How Anchor changed toothpaste advertising!

  1. Yes, it’s a good ad. And like all good ads, there was a nice twist in the end. Well, I can possibly imagine why every client chooses to do a safe ad, which is full of cliches, which you rightly pointed out. What happens with FMCG is, one gets to see immediate results for any advertising investment, and as a result, Brand Managers are mostly tempted to play it safe with high budget campaigns, especially with TVCs and Press campaigns. Besides the creative team that worked on it, the ad agency and also the production studio, credit must be given to the client, for identifying the need to break the clutter and agreeing to release a TVC like this one. For the sake of the brave Brand Manager, who approved this commercial, I hope this ad shows on Anchor’s bottomline, because Advertising definitely needs more clients like him.


  2. Good article — although read as if u were given an assignment. Please discuss the Anchor toothpaste ads in terms of……….. 😀


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