Where a Lux Cozi wearer listens to Varun Dhawan flagging the message, Ranveer Singh puts it down to Rupa Frontline’s ‘aaram ka maamla’. Saif Ali Khan and Amul Macho aren’t too worried either as they cater to their TG ‘bade aaram se’. Men’s innerwear advertising is celebrity endorser oriented to a fault, coupled with stereotypical machismo. For such a formulaic category, where does the differentiation come from?
Santosh Padhi, Co-founder & Chief Creative Officer, Taproot Dentsu India
‘Go beyond celebrities and connect emotionally’
The men’s innerwear category probably does not have much to talk about, which is why almost every brand is choosing to bring a celebrity on board. The lower middle class probably connects well with the actors that are endorsing these brands or products. The upper middle class would rather buy the brand that is most comfortable and familiar to them, and this is where most of the international brands find traction.
It is not that only the celebrity makes a difference to a brand. When Amul Macho did the Toing ad, that was an example of advertising that generated awareness in the category. It is hard to pinpoint what is working for these brands, though.
If you don’t have a physical attribute to speak of, brands have in the past tried to develop an emotional connect with the consumer, or say created a property. For example, Bade aaram se, as a proposition, has potential. But I don’t think that Amul Macho has leveraged it fully. Brands need to arrive at what can make them emotionally connect with consumers. Most hard-boiled candy brands do not necessarily have a USP but they crack a fantastic joke and set themselves apart. Why can’t the same happen in this category?
Priti Nair, Director, CurryNation
‘Brands are worried about shaking the boat’
The brands in question are typically targeting small town masses where usually celebrities do the trick. They should, however, go beyond the celebrity endorsement route and speak about what they are actually offering. There comes a time when the consumer evolves and moves out. Brands need to track that. If Andar ki baat hai is the proposition, it needs to be said what the brand means by that, and what the consumer can take away from it.
It looks like brands are worried about shaking the boat. If, apart from you, your competitive environment is also more or less about the same thing, it does not breed opportunities where you may feel a need to evolve. Brands need to introspect and gauge whether their target audience can really correctly pin the celebrity to the brand/product. Any evolution in product or communication will eventually result in a price increase; that is probably what brands are trying to avoid. Any change at the product level will involve a change in packaging and advertising, which will change your pricing. That is not the case for premium brands where they stay clearly differentiated through their product as well as communication.
Amit Kekre, National Strategy Head, DDB Mudra Group
‘There’s more to the category than conventional depictions’
Brands evolve identities. Especially brands that concern appearance and grooming. Surprisingly, the Indian innerwear category falls woefully short of this. Functionally, the category could take a leaf from international brands which have focussed on innovation in design and fabrics, exploring benefits such as ‘shape enhancers’ to notching up the naughtiness with fluorescent colours, fabrics like silks and satins.
Category advertising begs an evolution, too. From a time when VIP Frenchie brought men’s innerwear out of the closet, the innerwear category seems stuck in a time warp, only to conform to the convention of ‘macho-ness’ and sexual prowess. With sexuality coming out of the closet, the trend of accentuating maleness isn’t surprising. But surely there’s more to the category. Brands like Jockey and Van Heusen have tried newer narratives. It’s time the
category showed there’s more to men than bulges
and brawn. Time for a masculine version of #CampaignforRealBeauty, perhaps!
— Compiled by Shinmin Bali