When Only Vimal weaved a fashionable story, Marketing & Advertising News, ET BrandEquity

This is an image from the 1987 publicity film featuring West Indies cricketer Sir Vivian Richards.

Sir Vivian Richards is having fun like never before. He is lying on a pool float and relaxing. The next moment he is dressed in a mid-length white coat paired with brown pants. Then he crosses his hands and leans slightly forward. The next frame of the film sees him on the cricket pitch where he relishes his success and makes his mark at bat.

The next moment, he can be seen by the pool in a red shirt. He shakes his leg to the beat of the music. As seen in coat, suit and tie, the background of the film reads, “Now Vivian has found new love.” As he practices boxing, with a smile he looks at the camera and says “Only Vimal”. As the film draws to a close, he walks confidently in a black tuxedo where the background highlights, “Looks of a winner.”

It was the year 1987. A campaign on Vimal Suiting saw West Indies captain Richards, India cricketer Ravi Shastri and Australia captain Allan Robert Border on screens independently and together.

Making of the Vimal Suiting campaign

Only Vimal had been creating waves for much longer. It was the year 1975. Reliance had extended its activity to textiles with ‘Vimal’. The brand was named after Dhirubhai Ambani, co-founder of Reliance Industries, the son of Ramnik Ambani’s older brother, Vimal.

Mudra Communications, an advertising agency part of Reliance, was established in the 1980s. Anil Ambani, former chairman of Reliance Group, who had just returned from the United States after completing his masters in business of Vimal’s operations on a personal basis.

Vimal was already a popular brand that was doing well in the market. His only major competitor then was Raymond. Subrata Bhowmick, former Creative Director – Sarees and Clothing, Mudra Communications said that although Vimal sold suits, shirts, sarees and clothing, the product that made the brand ‘showcase’ was sarees.

Reliance decided to sponsor the 1987 Cricket World Cup to gain visibility. Vijay Nagrare, who was the agency’s former account manager, said, “Mudra had to come up with a campaign to reinforce that Vimal Suiting was one of the leading brands in India. “Multiple celebrities” was the main strategy we adopted in order to make the campaign stand out. »

Being part of a Vimal commercial was the ultimate modeling assignment one could receive at that time.

To execute the campaign perfectly, Mudra Communications wanted to appeal to well-known cricketing celebrities in India. Thus, the agency began to identify well-known captains.

The West Indies were considered the most formidable cricket team in the world. “At that time, Sir Vivian Richards was hailed as the ‘god of cricket’. The other cricketer who was extremely popular at that time was Pakistani cricketer Imran Khan. And he was also one of our picks,” Nagrare pointed out. Richards came aboard.

Shastri was considered the most popular cricketer and was very flamboyant. “The campaign was supposed to even have a fourth cricketer. Martin David Crowe, captain of the New Zealand cricket team was supposed to be part of the campaign. But, that did not materialize. It had to be dropped because it took a long time to negotiate and finalize,” Nagrare said.

The agency came into contact with cricketers through a sports marketing company called Professional Management Group, which was founded by former cricketer legend Sunil Gavaskar.

Nagrare said: “During this period it was very difficult to get in touch with the celebrities. The cricketers who were on board, even their approach was very casual where they had to be cajoled to be present at the shot. There had a commercial shot with the three together which was shot in two hours flat.During this period, filming a commercial would take a day or two.Filmmaker Shantanu Sheorey made sure to check with cricketers s were they ready for filming or not.

Adrian Mendonza, who had joined Mudra Communications as an intern, was a junior copywriter when he first worked on the Vimal Suiting campaign. The first campaign he worked on was Vimal clothing material.

As Mendonza reminisced about that time, he said, “Mudra was doing a music program called ‘Hot Tracks.’ He used to come to Doordarshan once every fortnight for half an hour. Together with AG Krishnamurthy, the founder of Mudra, I participated in the selection of music for each program together. They were all foreign videos where the audience tasted the music of sensations like Michael Jackson, Lionel Ritchie and Bruce Springsteen,” Mendoza said.

He explained, “At that time, listening to English music was easy, but during that time, the only access people had was to Chitrahaar on Doordarshan. Vimal was the first brand to sponsor awards like the Grammys and the Oscars. Thus, Vimal was considered a pioneer and a great pioneer in bringing English music to the country. ”

And that paved the way for Mendonza to work on the Vimal Suiting campaign.

Mendonza was hired to work on the campaign script. Krishnamurthy informed him to combine the ‘looks’ with Vimal Suiting. The whole concept of ‘Looks of a winner’ was sold to the client. He came up with the ‘Looks of a Winner’ line. “The whole concept of ‘Looks of a winner’ was sold to the client and the whole campaign was based on that,” Mendonza said.

Being a cricket enthusiast, Mendonza wrote the script for commercials. Mendonza said: “Today the Indian Premier League (IPL) and cricketers are big where the latter is everywhere. It was not the phenomenon then. This campaign launched a whole new genre of presenting cricketing celebrities on screen.

Due to the busy schedules of the cricketers, the costumes had to be sewn using their photographs. They were made by Kutchins Creations in Bombay who sewed costumes for most of the Vimal campaigns.

As the cricketers were unavailable for measurement, the agency got hold of their photographs where they enlarged them to life size in the agency’s darkroom in Ahmedabad. The costumes were sewn according to the measurements of these life-size photographs. In Richards’ case, the sewn suits did not fit him well. “If you look closely at the advertisement, the jacket that Sir Vivian Richards put on was slightly shorter than it should have been,” Mendoza said.

(This is one of the commercials featuring West Indies cricketer Sir Vivian Richards. Video courtesy: DDB Mudra Group)
(This is one of the commercials featuring Indian cricketer Ravi Shastri. Video courtesy: The Brar’s)

All three commercials were shot by commercial producer and commercial photographer Shantanu Sheorey. A fourth commercial was shot which saw the three of them together. The commercial starring Richards was filmed in Rajasthan at Maharani Gayatri Devi’s palace. The commercial featuring Border was shot at Taj Fisherman’s Cove in Chennai. For the campaign, each cricketer was paid INR one lakh.

The beginnings of Only Vimal

Prior to Mudra Communications, the agency that handled Vimal’s account was Frank Simoes Advertising.

“Only Vimal” was coined by the late advertising veteran Frank Simoes in 1978, where Vimal’s first campaign was waged. When Dhirubhai was briefing Frank Simoes on his expectations for the Vimal campaign, through conversation, Ambani kept saying, “Only Vimal has this, Only Vimal has that”, and “Only Vimal” was reinforced over and over again. “I believe Frank Simoes chose ‘Only Vimal’ after he walked out of that meeting,” Nagrare said. The slogan was first used for the campaign on Vimal Sarees.

The music for the commercials – which were shot in October during the Diwali season – was done by composer Leslie Lewis. “After bringing home the trophy in 1983, 1987 was expected to repeat history. But we lost in the semi-finals,” Mendonza said with a sigh.

The first film was shot just after the cricketers landed and before the start of the first game. The other commercials were shot during the World Cup. “In the meantime, whenever we had the dates, we shot the films. At Eden Gardens Stadium, Allan Border lifted the trophy,” Nagrare said.

After the commercials were released, the campaign solidified Vimal as the costume leader. Nagrare recalled that when Mendonza wrote the script, Sheorey and Lewis stepped in and put a musical spin on the script. In all three commercials, the jingle played a big role because the commercials approach was very music-oriented. “In the case of the Sir Vivian Richards commercial, we approached it as a music video where we tried to make it very entertaining because of her fondness for Caribbean music,” Mendonza said.

A print campaign was also carried out in which the “Looks of a Winner” was a single line written for all print advertisements. “We connected ‘Looks of a Winner’ with Vimal. Indeed, Vimal Suiting is all about looking good. Of the three adverts shot, the one featuring Sir Vivian Richards became the most famous. He’s a natural actor and he brought a lot of talent to this,” Mendoza said.

Mendonza mentioned that a distinct writing style was created for the “Looks of a winner” line where the general idea was “You have the looks and you have the qualities of a winner”. “The away campaign went very well. We have also produced large posters (including individual and combined) which we have installed in Vimal showrooms,” he said.

Of the three ads, the one featuring Richards performed extremely well. “A campaign that is remembered even 35 years later is a great achievement. This campaign showed that “celebrities can take action”. The commercial emphasized that you can cast them in a role and showcase their strengths. It also reinforced that celebrities don’t need to be used as models holding a product and showcasing its features,” added Mendoza.

(BE Saal Baad is a series that looks at advertising in time)

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