Who’ll win the water fight? Dream Girl or Hawa Hawai?

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hema-malini-and-SrideviIn 2005, when Mahesh Gupta, Founder and Chairman of Kent RO Systems convinced the ‘Dreamgirl of India’, Hema Malini, a mother of two daughters to endorse the company’s brand, little did he know that the association would not just be a long one but would also become a family association. In the following years, Hema Malini’s daughters Ahana and Esha were also roped in as brand ambassadors to support the campaign. While the evergreen beauty Hema Malini was being seen in Kent, ‘Hawa Hawai’ girl Sridevi was found by another water purifier player to endorse Fiona Digital RO ad campaign, recently. Again, a mother of two daughters and happily married to film producer, Boney Kapoor, the actress is seen in commercials that try and represent a ‘perfect family’ picture. So, what is that brings the two in the same frame for a segment like water purifier or detergent which is symbolic of ‘Purity and Cleanliness’?

Experts are of the view that both Hema Malini and Sridevi are very fine and successful actresses who have been at the height of their careers as superstars, which gives the brands a very strong recall value. Both are currently associated with charity work, meaningful films and Indian classical dance. Put all these together and the marketers know that they are the perfect fit for a water purifier brand or home care because they exude trust.

KV Sridhar, Chief Creative Officer at Leo Burnett, Indian Subcontinent says, “Your heart goes out to a mother who values her kids and is concerned about the overall hygiene of the family.” Echoing a similar tone are these two brand ambassadors who are not just superstars but mothers setting an example for others to follow.

Another point of commonality between the two actresses is that both of them are from South and have acted in all kinds of films which make them less regional and more national thereby creating a potential for mass appeal, says Sridhar.

When asked about commonality between the two stars, another expert, Anindya Banerjee, Executive Creative Director, Scarecrow Communications, says in a lighter vein that it is interesting to note that both actresses got married to men who were already married. Giving a full 10 on 10 to Indian audience, Banerjee further says, “Fortunately, the Indian consumer has a forgiving attitude about the private lives of their stars – and rightfully so.”

When Pitch asked the candid expert as to who was better amongst the two, Banerjee says, “That’s a bit like comparing Tendulkar and Virat Kohli – one has already spent years in cricket, the other one is just starting out.”

Hema Malini has spent eight years endorsing Kent and she has a head-start over Sridevi, he says, adding, “I am sure, there would have been times when people would have been tempted to change the brand ambassador. But Kent has stuck to Hema Malini and built the brand around her.”

However, Abhijeet Awasthi, Executive Creative Director, Ogilvy and Mather, has a different take on this. According to Awasthi, it’s not exactly about the celebrity, but how you want to use the celebrity. At a time when leading action heroes are endorsing brands starting from top to literally the bottom as evident in case of Salman Khan endorsing a footwear brand like Relaxo, it would be wrong to associate actors with only certain kind of roles.

Some experts are also of the view that family oriented stars are extra cautious when it comes to choosing a brand and like to experience it themselves before going ahead with the endorsement. Hema Malini is said to have tested the product Kent in her Mumbai home for a few months before the final agreement with the company. Mahesh Gupta initially targeted a print launch for Kent and subsequently moved on to television where the evergreen heroine Malini is seen giving assurance to consumers that Kent Purifiers offer the purest water in the world.

It’s not just the water purifier biz that the evergreen actress Hema Malini has been associated with. She has also been a brand ambassador for Miraj Shudhh Oil Soap – Shudhata and Safedi Dono Barkarar, Shalimar Oil – Mera Pyaar Shalimar and famous Lux Commercial with SRK. The list doesn’t end here, as Malini was also roped in by Future Brands for its first home category brand called, ‘DREAMLINE’ which was introduced in 2007.

Sridevi, on the other hand, has been associated with LUX and Reckitt Benckiser’s stain removal liquid, ‘Vanish’ emphasising – Trust Pink Forget Stains.

So, what retains the demand for these two superstars of the by-gone era? According to Srinivasan K Swamy, Chairman of the RK Swamy Hansa Group, “Both these actresses have goodwill of their fans developed over the years which is essential in case of products like water purifier or home category brands.”

He further says, “When brands rope in actresses like Sridevi and Hema Malini, they hope to draw from the fame that both have earned in their careers. It is all about inspiring trust and they are trying to leverage their image through these brands.”

He adds that Sridevi’s re-launch in Bollywood movie English-Vinglish in 2012 has proved the fact that she is back in business. “Both Sridevi and Hema Malini represent a stature like no other actress can,” says Swamy.

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