Dec 3, 2008

Mktg - India;Set Wet Zatak attempts a spoof on Axe

Devina Joshi

“So, what’s the brief?” asked the agency. “Axe the competition,” responded the client.

While that may not be exactly what transpired between Triton and Paras Pharmaceuticals, the latest Set Wet Zatak commercial may just have been the product of a similar conversation.

The two-year-old deodorant brand from the Paras stable has a TV commercial on air that spoofs on rival Axe, making use of creative elements otherwise associated with the latter.

In 2006, BBH had launched a commercial for Axe globally (Spray More, Get More), which was shot in Los Angeles. It starred model Jeanene Fox and showed thousands of women, including her, tripping over each other, swimming from far-off lands, and indulging in catfights to get to this man who is spraying himself with Axe (in a distinct style) on a beach. As the women swamp him, the voiceover goes, ‘Spray More, Get More’.

The Zatak commercial shows a skinny man in a nightclub, with an axe in each hand. As he spots two beautiful women, he manoeuvres the axes around his body, in a style that looks suspiciously similar to that of the Axe ad, in an attempt to woo the women. The ladies approach him purposefully, but the guy is stumped when they walk past him to a suave young man, dressed to kill in black. ‘Get Set Wet Zatak. Get Very, Very Sexy’, concludes the voiceover, as the ‘axed’ man looks on in disappointment and defeat.

The film was shot by the production house, Big Apple.

The obvious Axe brand references – the axes in the man’s hands, the manner in which he moves them around, the nightclub setting and even the skinny model himself – are all hard to miss. As a brand, Axe has positioned itself as the provider of an empowering solution to men who find it difficult to make the first move, and tends to cast skinny men; this was considered a category breaker when the concept was launched globally.

A sniff of competition
Jignesh Shah, general manager, marketing, Paras Pharmaceuticals, talks about the spoof to afaqs!. “Axe and Zatak are positioned more or less on the same line of thought, have the same target group, and are all about wooing women. What we are trying to clearly define is that the Zatak man is more stylish.”

This is the first time that Zatak has spoofed a brand, and Shah assures us that it won’t be the last. More spoofs, either on Axe or any other brand in the category, are possible.

Both Axe and Zatak chiefly address 15-28-year-old males in metros (in Zatak’s case, 28-35-year-old males also form the secondary TG). Both brands revolve around appealing to the opposite sex, lending a certain sexiness and confidence to the user when it comes to the flirting/dating game.

Renton D’Sousa, national director, creative and strategy, Triton Communications, says that the Set Wet brand world has consistently revolved around confidence, sexiness, grooming and style. And Zatak, in the same zone, has always been about “uncontrollable” attraction.

“In order to differentiate Zatak from the rest, we took the creative route of emphasising what women want – men, as opposed to wannabes,” says D’Sousa.

Further, he says that research by Triton reveals that from a woman’s point of view, the Set Wet man is “to die for”. “The other man and his Desperately Seeking Susan ways provide much amusement,” grins D’Sousa. He admits that this sensorial category is all about attracting female attention, so there’s no escaping that in the creative execution.

Do we smell a reaction?
It’s “No comments” in Axeland. Priya Nair, general manager, deodorants, Hindustan Unilever Ltd, says, “I wouldn’t want to comment on this. We have our own agenda behind our advertising… we are currently busy with our Dark Temptation campaign. I’m sure they (Set Wet Zatak), too, have their own agenda. Let’s leave it at that.”

Shah and Triton are prepared to face repercussions, if any. “Axe is a strong leader in this category …the guy to look up to, and we know that,” says Shah. “We’re close behind, and this gives us the freedom and cheeky irreverence to take on the giant and be compared to the topmost brand in this space. There is a thin red line between fun and offence and we haven’t crossed it.”

“We have stuck to the Set Wet brand world attributes… if this leads to repercussions, we will deal with them as they come,” adds D’Sousa of Triton.

In a sense, Zatak has now taken on the role of the underdog and seems to be loving every minute of it.

A viral campaign has also been unleashed, which shows how the Zatak user is far superior to his lesser counterparts.

Unlike HUL, others aren’t in a no-reaction mode. When afaqs! sought the stance of Joono Simon, executive creative director, Mudra, he didn’t seem particularly impressed with Zatak’s attempt at a spoof. “To begin with, it’s audacious to think that something could be more entertaining and engrossing than Jeanene Fox hopping around the fields,” he quips.

On a more serious note, he muses that as far as the history of spoofs go, the greater the work, the easier the parody. “However, a parody only works if it’s wickedly funny and inherently more engaging than the original,” Simon says. “In the case of the Zatak commercial, the jibe here looks too half-hearted and gutless to make an impact.”

Sumanto Chattopadhyay, executive creative director, O&M, South Asia, says, "It's obviously a spoof on Axe. But few will get this as not many have seen the original. So, in all likelihood, this will remain an ad industry joke if you ask me!"

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