Kumbh waterproof sarees: With HUL we can go national as a brand, says Sukesh Nayak, Ogilvy

The idea behind #GoSafeOutside campaign was to innovate while bringing about a change, explains Nayak, CCO, Ogilvy Mumbai

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The Kumbh Mela is a congregation of over 100 million people and this means brands have a good opportunity to attract a large number of consumers. This Kumbh, creative agency Ogilvy along with their client HUL launched a new campaign #GoSafeOutside. They have come up with waterproof sarees for women devotees to take a dip at the Holy Sangam without having to worry about prying eyes and camera flashes.

Exchange4media caught up with Sukesh Nayak, CCO, Ogilvy Mumbai, the brain behind the campaign on how the product was brought to the market. 

The Brief 

On the idea behind the waterproof sarees, Nayak said: “For Kumbh, we decided to partner with the government authorities to do something meaningful. Initially, we asked the government which areas they would need help in. We gave them a brief of the brands we associate with and what we could do. I worked with my marketing team and honestly, the partnership with HUL was the best fit because we were going national as a brand. Harman Dhillon from Unilever, our client, felt that we need to also create a product that is breathable and protects the consumer's skin. We started off by getting basic help, we wanted to innovate and bring about a change. Women bathe in their sarees and we wanted to make it comfortable for them.”  

The Insight 

The idea was to keep the focus of the product on women, Nayak said. “We started by providing private changing rooms for women at the festival and noticed that they bathe in their sarees. As per a High Court order, no pictures can be taken of women at the river. However, today with the easy access to smartphones, anyone can capture a picture. This is a huge problem. We wanted to invent something that would help women at Kumbh and we worked with a lot of textile designers. Finally, we found a way out. We tried to make sarees that were beautiful to wear and also waterproof. Plus, it doesn't stick to your body.” 

The technology 

Speaking about the process of creating the product, Nayak said: “Sarees are usually made of thin material and not thick like a raincoat. A saree manufacturer from Surat was as excited about the idea just like the client and the agency. He tried a couple of ideas and ran a couple of samplings. Finally, we realised that there is a way of coating a saree. So, if the coating is right, it serves the purpose of being waterproof without having the thickness of a raincoat.  The printing of the sarees was a tedious process. We had to get the patchwork ordered. The prints of the sarees were done twice, on the back and on the front. The saree cloth has been manufactured using a polyester weave. Although it took almost two months, it was a beautiful journey nonetheless.” 

The Challenge

From getting the right partner to the right supplier, the challenges were galore, Nayak said. “Challenges are multiple when you are trying to create something new. You need to find the right partner who believes in the idea and the right supplier who will see this through. Then finding the mechanism to do it the right way. We partnered with the locals and met like-minded people along the journey. It has been a great learning experience for all of us. The journey has been really enriching and rewarding for all of us who worked on it and it is also because of the number and the kind of people we met. Our team found solutions to all the challenges themselves.”

How to make the brand stand out at Kumbh

On the strategy to make the brand work at Kumbh, Nayak says: “I have three ways to look at it—firstly, you must be true to the festival, then you must do something meaningful and finally your brand should fit into the space of what you are trying to do. That's how your brand will sustain at the festival. You can’t have a brand that does not match the tone of the festival.”

Brand recall

Nayak spoke about connecting with the people at the ground level and the difference it brought to the journey. “The world will see what we could do with the first set of people. If it really works, then we can find investments and do it again on a larger scale. Akhara, a local group at Kumbh, is actually talking about the campaign being a fundamentally strong move. Our product provides women with a shield of security. I have tried to connect with them with my brand promise in a different level altogether.”  

Response so far

“Videos about how women feel about the product have been doing the rounds. Somebody who has been stared at all their lives while having a bath in a sari will connect with us and appreciate this initiative,” Nayak signed off.

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