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Beyond washing powder Nirma

Nirma’s celebrity advertising strategy may lift its perception for now, but can the brand truly transition to the next level?

Hrithik Roshan casually walks into a party and exchanges glances with a girl. Just at that moment, someone spills a drink onto the star’s white T-shirt. An upset Roshan rushes to the washroom only to find a young boy with a stained top. At that point, Nirma Advance sprints onto the screen and the actor gets into a jig with the youngster. The washing powder, of course, cleans away the stains.

The one minute commercial is a clear departure for Nirma. It is the first time in its 40-year history that it has used a celebrity. All these years, the girls next door — Jaya and Sushma  — were the endorsers. The gutsy girls, with a catchy jingle and a low-priced product produced a lot of lather catapulting Nirma to a market share of over 50% in the 1980s. Competition, particularly Hindustan Unilever (HUL), saw its big brand Surf being taken to the cleaners.

Much has changed since then and Nirma’s market share is at barely 10% today with Wheel, that HUL later launched, and Ghari, a low-priced offering from the north, making serious inroads in the ₹14,000-crore detergent market.

Now, will Nirma’s strategy to premiumise i

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