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Writer: Josy Paul - Monday, Jun 27,2011 9:29 AM
Cannes Lions 2011: Josy Paul walks exchange4media through the W.A.L.S. win

BBDO India’s W.A.L.S (Women Against Lazy Stubble), done for P&G’s Gillette, has brought home the inaugural Creative Effectiveness Lions. This much awarded campaign has winning accolades since its inception unbranded Facebook page. Josy Paul, Chairman & NCD, BBDO India, shares with exchange4media, what makes this campaign such a news phenomenon and an awards favourite…

Thought process and background
Our task was to encourage the young trendy men of India’s cities to shave more often, and to shed the prevailing “unshaven look” that was endorsed by virtually every sport star, actor and role model in India.

Analysis told us that to achieve this we would have to create a grassroots “counter movement” that was authentic, engaging and contemporary. This was because our audience rejects commercial advertising and was more likely to be swayed by shifts of opinion among their contemporaries.

Our strategy was to leverage the (until now, silent) views of their female partners and spouses. Nielsen research that revealed 77 per cent of women preferred their men to be clean-shaven. By drawing public attention and giving voice to women’s views, we could give them confidence to express their desires, and encourage millions of closed-doors conversations to gently persuade their men to shave more often.

The campaign idea was to create a social movement called ‘Women Against Lazy Stubble’ (W.A.L.S.) – a publicity and controversy generating campaign that for the first time gave women a voice in how they would prefer their men to be clean shaven. The campaign began as an unbranded Facebook page and ended up as a national news phenomenon.

Initial reactions to W.A.L.S.
W.A.L.S. started with a bang! I remember getting a message from our Account Director on P&G Gillette saying that the just-launched Facebook page was attracting countless comments. Support groups were pouring in from all directions. It was like the floodgates had opened on the issue of shaving. This led to an immediate press and media conference. All of us knew we had the beginnings of a super-hit idea. Meanwhile, we tipped off the online media and bloggers who started spreading the story.

The movement amplified when three Hindi film actresses (Neha Dhupia, Minissha Lamba and Mugdha Godse) added their voices to the movement. Within days, the story was picked up by every major television network and newspaper, and fuelling conversations around the country.

Now that we had the nation’s attention, Gillette stepped in, supporting the movement by promoting Mach3 razor at a reduced price in a television campaign, with in-store support.

We set up shaving booths in malls across the country for men to shave (and be shaved by women). The W.A.L.S. movement also created history when we organised the largest mass shaving event (where about 2,000 men shaved at one go!) This event went on to break the Guinness World Record. And, it even featured in Ripley’s Believe It Or Not.

What has given it this kind of longevity
I don’t think we can fully explain why some ideas become a phenomenon. They catch the fancy of people everywhere. And they grow organically, like a raging virus. That’s what happened here. It started on Facebook. The W.A.L.S. page was inundated with support, and won instant popularity. Women got involved in large numbers. It seemed like we had touched a raw nerve, some sort of social tension point between men and women. The Gillette brand fit perfectly at the centre of the conversation. And the idea began to take a life of its own.

The campaign was 60 per cent more effective in generating attention than previous Gillette campaigns. It generated four times the expected amount of earned media and publicity. The campaign tripled market share of Mach3.

On the back of the success of this campaign, Gillette India was nominated brand of the year by Campaign Asia Pacific. The campaign was recognised by P&G as their most effective of 2009-10, worldwide. W.A.L.S. has won more than 35 international and Indian awards, including a Cannes Lion, several Spikes, four metals at AMEs, three metals at Effies, and lots more at GoaFest. The accolades haven’t stopped.

Any other partners who may have played a critical role in giving life to the idea
Gillette W.A.L.S. is a case study in total partnership and maximum collaboration. It was a seamless integration of so many client partners. Weber Shandwick, MediaCom, Encompass and GRIPS. All of them brought their passion, imagination and skills to the round table – to amplify the idea and give it scale. The award truly belongs to all our partners.

Clients reaction to W.A.L.S. – initially and later
It takes a great client to see, nurture and grow a big idea. The success of Gillette W.A.L.S. goes to the visionary marketing and communication team at P&G India. They pushed us to think bigger. They were there right from the start. It’s because of their belief, courage and ability to think beyond the conventional that we are here holding this shiny piece of Creative Effectiveness metal.

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