Sleaze, not plagiarism, should be Lux Cozi's bigger worry

The industry is squeamish about Lux Cozi’s recent campaign, which it believes could create problems for the brand due to its objectifying imagery

e4m by Mansi Sharma
Updated: Sep 8, 2021 9:14 AM
lux cozi

“Yeh Andar Ki Baat Hai” -- that’s how male underwear and innerwear initially found their way in the Indian marketing world. The famous tagline belonged to the Lux Industries, but many of its contemporaries followed a similar way to advertising in the 80s and early 90s. These undergarments were to make the wearer comfortable, unabashedly himself -- sometimes goofy, sometimes macho. While vests were quite visible on the screen, the underwear took a long time to peek out of the pants and dhotis. It was in the early 2000s that one brand took a bold step to sexualise this commodity for the Indians: Amul Macho, with its “Yeh To Bada Toing Hai” spot.

The suggestive background score, the expressions of the protagonist, and the reactions of the other characters in the frame, made is a recipe for controversy and the ad was subsequently banned in the country, before returning with a star cast of orangutans.  

Now, interestingly, both the brands, which once stood on other ends of the road have been found locking horns right in the middle of it. Amul Macho has accused Lux Cozi of copying elements of its original ad in a recent spot featuring actor and brand ambassador Varun Dhawan. In fact, the former has also reached ASCI’s gate to solve the issue, while Lux Cozi maintains that Amul Macho is “threatened by the success” of its campaign.

Though the ads might initially appear different to the viewer, Amul Macho has created a list of similarities in the films, including the setup of washing clothes, the colour of the underwear used, and the reactions of the supporting cast. 

Reacting to the matter, Samsika Marketing Consultants MD Jagdeep Kapoor said, “If the creator of the original ad is able to see some similarities, then they are in the right to pursue the matter further. They know their ad much better than anyone else seeing it. And no one should be “passing off” someone else’s content as their own.” 

While ASCI is yet to share its call in the matter, the industry feels that the Lux Cozi campaign should have the brand worrying about accusations beyond plagiarism. 

Industry veteran KV Sridhar (Pops) points out, “Copied or not, both of these are obscene ads and it’s stupid to create something like this in today’s time. You can’t be showing women as mere sexual objects. You will end up doing a lot of damage to the brand. Also Lux Cozi, from “Yeh Andar Ki Baat Hai” to “Apna Luck Pehen Ke Chalo”, to “Suno To Apne Dil Ki”, never had this overtly sexual way of doing advertising. Yes, they used the macho narrative like many other competitors but I don’t think they ever crossed that line of decency that they have now. You are certainly doing big damage to your brand image with creatives like these.”

Brand Strategist & Coach Ambi Parameswaran agrees, “Most undergarment brands [and even deo brands] have bordered on the sleazy promiscuous type of storytelling, for many years. I have maintained, in what I have written in the past, that the ’Toing’ ad is not in good taste at all. But then it was quite popular just as the deo ad that had this fantasy of illicit sex which was a big hit [Wild Stone].  I wonder why ASCI is getting into this plagiarism complaint. I thought they were there to ensure that consumers are not fooled with wrong claims.”

He adds, “And between Lux Cozi and Amul Macho ads, both are for very similar products and both their advertising are fun for some and smutty for others. If consumers complain about Lux Cozi then ASCI has good reasons to look into the ad and ban it if it is found objectionable.” 

Even Bang In The Middle Co-founder Naresh Gupta took to LinkedIn to express his dismay at the ad: “What a disgusting TVC from an underwear brand and its brand ambassador. Earlier this year #ASCI launched a gender sensitivity study. They announced that they would focus on the stereotypes portrayed in ads. Here is one case that they need to look at. And will Varun Dhawan be held responsible for doing this ad by ASCI under the new rules it frames for celebs? (sic)."

Further, Pops feels that the ad won’t only do damage to the brand’s image but will also impact ambassador Varun Dhawan. “In today’s time, any influencer or celebrity needs to be very careful about what they are promoting and how they are promoting it. Varun Dhawan has been a very nice boy, away from controversies, and is seen as a very hardworking and sensible person. But this one mistake could cost his image and land him in trouble. People today have the tools and platforms at their disposal to call out such sexist and promiscuous content and everyone should be very careful of what they are projecting.” 

For the unversed, Lux Cozi has worked with a number of big stars in its brand journey including Sunny Deol, Shah Rukh Khan, Amitabh Bachchan, and the late Sushant Singh Rajput, among others. Varun Dhawan was signed on as the brand ambassador in 2017 with its “Suno Toh Apne Dil Ki” campaign. The ongoing campaign, called “Ek Dum Cozy” has been conceptualized by Yellow Beetle.

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