Sleaze, not plagiarism, should be Lux Cozi’s biggest worry
“Yeh Andar Ki Baat Hai” – this is how men’s underwear and underwear first found their place in the Indian marketing world. The famous slogan belonged to Lux Industries, but many of its contemporaries followed a similar route to advertising in the 80s and early 90s. These underwear were to make the wearer comfortable, unashamed himself – sometimes clumsy, sometimes macho. While the vests were quite visible on screen, the underwear took a long time to come out of the pants and dhotis. It was in the early 2000s that a brand took the audacity to sexualize this commodity for Indians: Amul Macho, with his spot “Yeh To Bada Toing Hai”.
The suggestive background score, the protagonist’s expressions and the reactions of the other characters in the setting are a recipe for controversy and advertising was subsequently banned in the country, before returning with a star cast of orangutans.
Now, it’s interesting that the two marks, which were once at other ends of the road, were found locking horns right in the middle of it. Amul Macho accused Lux Cozi of copying material from her original commercial in a recent spot featuring actor and brand ambassador Varun Dhawan. In fact, the former has also reached the door of ASCI to resolve the issue, while Lux Cozi maintains that Amul Macho is “threatened by the success” of his campaign.
While the commercials may initially look different to the viewer, Amul Macho created a list of similarities across the films, including the clothes wash pattern, the color of the underwear used, and the reactions of the supporting cast.
Reacting to the case, Samsika Marketing Consultants MD Jagdeep Kapoor said, “If the creator of the original ad is able to see certain similarities, then he has the right to pursue the case further. They know their ad much better than anyone who sees it. And no one should “pass off” someone else’s content as their own.
While ASCI has yet to share its call on the matter, the industry believes the Lux Cozi campaign should worry the brand over accusations that go beyond plagiarism.
Industry veteran KV Sridhar (Pops) points out, “Copied or not, these two commercials are obscene and it’s stupid to create something like that right now. You cannot show women as mere sex objects. You will end up doing a lot of damage to the mark. Also Lux Cozi, from “Yeh Andar Ki Baat Hai” to “Apna Luck Pehen Ke Chalo”, to “Suno To Apne Dil Ki”, has never had this overtly sexual way of advertising. Yes, they used the macho narrative like a lot of other contestants, but I don’t think they ever crossed that line of decency that they have now. You are certainly doing a lot of damage to your brand image with designs like these.
Brand strategist and coach Ambi Parameswaran agrees: “Most underwear brands [and even deo brands] have bordered on the fishy, fishy type of storytelling for many years. I have argued, in what I have written in the past, that the ‘Toing’ ad is not tasteful at all. But then it was pretty popular just like the deo ad that had this illicit sex fantasy that was a big hit. [Wild Stone]. I wonder why ASCI is getting into this plagiarism complaint. I thought they were there to make sure consumers don’t get fooled by false claims.
He adds, “And between the Lux Cozi and Amul Macho ads, both are about very similar products and their ads are both funny to some and dirty to others. If consumers complain about Lux Cozi, ASCI has good reason to review the ad and ban it if it is found to be objectionable.
Even Bang In The Middle co-founder Naresh Gupta took to LinkedIn to express his dismay at the announcement: “What a disgusting TVC from an underwear brand and its ambassador from Mark. Earlier this year, #ASCI launched a gender sensitivity study. They announced that they would focus on the stereotypes portrayed in the advertisements. Here’s a case they need to look at. And will Varun Dhawan be held responsible for doing this advertising by ASCI under the new rules it sets for celebrities? (sic). “
In addition, Pops believes the advertising will not only damage the brand’s image, but also impact Ambassador Varun Dhawan. “Right now, any influencer or celebrity has to be very careful about what and how they promote. Varun Dhawan was a very nice boy, far from controversy, and is considered a very hardworking and sensitive person. But that mistake alone could damage his image and cause him trouble. People today have the tools and platforms at their disposal to call such sexist and promiscuous content and everyone should be very careful about what they project.
For the uninitiated, Lux Cozi has worked with a number of big stars in her branding journey, including Sunny Deol, Shah Rukh Khan, Amitabh Bachchan, and the late Sushant Singh Rajput, among others. Varun Dhawan was named Brand Ambassador in 2017 with his “Suno Toh Apne Dil Ki” campaign. The current campaign, called “Ek Dum Cozy”, was conceptualized by Yellow Beetle.
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