Fevicol has played with its advertising to convert an adhesive, a product that bore none of the glamour and glitz of consumer goods, into a loved and recalled brand.
Time was when industrial glue was sold and consumed as a commodity, in unmarked tins and packages.
But then Pidilite’s Fevicol changed the game, using humour, sharp images and sticky advertising to punch far above its weight in the marketing game as it scripted a new story for itself and also the category.
And now as it weaves its way through a transformed media and consumer landscape, as a 60-year-old, the brand is working out a way to stay young, stay relevant and keep the laughs coming.
The Rs 7,000-crore company will shortly celebrate its six-decade journey with a new ad campaign, led by its agency partner Ogilvy that has been with Pidilite throughout.
“Piyush (Pandey, chief creative officer worldwide and executive chairman, India, Ogilvy) is involved with Fevicol’s communication at all times,” says Bharat Puri, managing director, Pidilite Industries offering an insight into how the brand has been able to keep its language and grammar consistent over the ages.
Even today, in an age where it competes and scores against brands that are digital natives and way younger than Fevicol, the tone of the advertising remains unchanged.
“And,” Puri adds, “the surprising bit is that our total advertising budget is around Rs 200 crore per annum.
"We’ve managed to efficiently use the budget to stay relevant to our target audience.”
Fevicol is active on social media platforms, punning and throwing out smart lines on everything from the recent brouhaha over the controversial Face App that showed users how they would age - the Fevicol ad was a throwback moment to its popular ad with a chef staring perplexed at an egg that refused to crack as it had been fixed with Fevicol.
In the new ad, the same person is seen holding the egg and a similar expression. Nothing has changed, except the face that has aged.
For sixty years, Fevicol has played with its advertising to convert an adhesive, a product that bore none of the glamour and glitz of consumer goods, into a loved and recalled brand.
And Pidilite is using these same marketing and advertising tools in its arsenal to transform into a diversified industrial products company today.
From adhesives such as Fevikwik and Fevistik, part of the Fevicol family, to water-proofing and sealants such as Dr Fixit and M-Seal, Pidilite is slowly but steadily expanding its range, adding coatings, chemicals and complex industrial solutions to its portfolio.
At every stage though, the company is making sure it connects with the masses, especially, the youth, using both traditional and digital media to communicate its message.
Pidilite, say brand experts, is one of the savviest social-media marketers in the country, latching on to every discussion and talking point on Facebook and Twitter.
“Companies such as Pidilite have to continue re-inventing themselves,” says N Chandramouli, chief executive officer of brand advisory firm TRA Research.
“Market needs are constantly evolving and it is imperative to understand where one can go without becoming unrecognisable to its core target audience.
"Pidilite has managed to balance these needs well so far, with Brand Fevicol being central to its journey,” he adds.
Puri says that the power of the creative has helped create maximum impact with minimum spends and helped the brand to stay relevant even with younger audiences.
“Not only are we speaking to them in their language, but people use the ‘Fevicol’ name frequently when referring to friendship or bonding in particular. That is heart-warming,” he adds.
The Pidilite-Ogilvy partnership, say experts, has been as unshakeable as the ‘Fevicol bond’ propagated by the two over the decades. Puri says he sees no other agency partner who can carry this legacy forward.
Especially as the company spreads into newer industrial and consumer solutions, stitching up joint ventures and making acquisitions along the way.
In the last three years, the company has signed four joint ventures with foreign partners and made one acquisition in industrial solutions.
The plan, as Puri says, is to look for “pioneers” before others do and jump in with a tie-up or buyout.
“About two-third of our business currently comes from the core adhesive segment.
"The balance one-third comes from growth areas such as water proofing, chemicals, industrial resins and polymers,” says Puri.
“We would like to take this business mix to about half each in the coming years,” he adds.
Photograph: Courtesy, Pidilite