For Appearances’ Sake

Aug 19 2014, 04:42 IST
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SummaryClean & Clear’s new campaign reopens the debate on true beauty but then falters midway.

Campaign: See the Real Me

Brand: Clean & Clear

Company: Johnson & Johnson India

Agency: DDB Mudra

The Ad

The television commercial depicts several teenaged girls expressing their angst as people judge them for their looks – read pimples, oily skin, et al. As they say, people call them names such as “halwai”, “Ms Cheep cheep”, “sticky piggy” and more. And if there is a zit on her face, that’s all she is—a zit, as one of the girls puts it succinctly. Comes Clean & Clear to the rescue, and the girls heave a sigh of relief, as people can see them for what they are—smart, talented, pretty girls.

Our Take

The ‘See the Real Me’ campaign is being promoted on a global scale and the new commercial is the first step in disseminating the new message in India. Instead of using trained actors and models, for the first time the agency has street-cast girls for the Indian ad to add what actors can’t—authenticity and spontaneity. The global campaign comprises a series of short documentaries that bypass acne, focusing instead on girls who pursue ambitions that seem impossible based on their physical appearances. The campaign has been much appreciated in the US, as it looks at building confidence in young girls. The Indian ad, while it takes off from the global insights, prefers to address the issue of name-calling prevalent among Indian teenagers. While that is a laudable objective, it does not match the sensitivity and depth displayed in the international campaign. Also, the solution itself—finding the courage to show their real talents with a little help from Clean & Clear Face Wash— takes away from the ad the original argument it was espousing—true beauty is not just about appearances—thus making it just another ad that promotes a particular product. As a youth brand, Clean & Clear has always played the role of a trusted friend that enables positive teen confidence. That gave it a platform to inspire teenage girls across the country to believe that they are much more than pretty faces. But sadly, the ad does not utilise that to the maximum. The ad begins on the lines of a Dove Real Beauty campaign but sadly ends up like a Fair & Lovely ad. Hopefully, the others ads/initiatives to follow in the campaign will avoid the overt selling.

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