Surf Excel: Worshipping the Lord with ten hands

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Surf Excel, India’s leading premium laundry brand is identified with ‘Dirt is good’ proposition. However Surf Excel was facing a peculiar problem as “Women in India have a perception that it takes a lot of effort to clean tough stains”. To counter this prevailing thought, Surf launched a new variant Surf Excel Easy Wash, targeted to hand wash users, to empower the target with the ‘power of 10 hands’ for easy removal of stains.

The objective of the new variant was to establish that clothes cleaned with surf excel easy wash are as good as clothes cleaned with 10 hands. Therefore, it was imperative to bring alive the proposition by portraying “Power of 10 hands”. But Easy wash had a daring challenge to communicate this proposition within the territory of ‘Dirt is Good’. While regular campaigns helped build awareness for Easy Wash, they didn’t really help build differentiation over the mother brand. Due to non-differentiation, competition was gaining slightly higher share than Surf Excel amongst the non-washing machine consumers.

Maharashtra was one of the key markets where the gap between Surf Excel Easy wash and its closest competitor was widening. Maharashtra, being a priority market for Surf Excel Easy wash, was chosen as the ‘test market’ to study how differentiation could be created beyond a regular plan. It is also the second largest laundry detergent market and the wealthiest state in India, contributing 14.95% of its GDP.

Nothing connects better with Indians than culture and heritage. Hence Surf Excel wanted to bring alive the proposition in a culturally and socially relevant environment. This too fitted well for Maharashtra, it being a very culturally bound state.


Mothers believed and agreed that getting dirty is a way of experiential learning but they were worried about the stains that the kid would bring home on his clothes. Considering that Indians traditionally wash their clothes with their hands and believe that hand washed clothes are superior as against machine washed clothes.

Hence, the proposition ‘power of 10 Hands’ had become key to be established. The task at hand was to bring alive the campaign thought in a manner that was relevant and connected with the target; mothers that are 25+ years. Ganesh Chaturthi which is celebrated over 10 days, is one of the biggest festivals in Maharashtra, proved to be an apt platform for the brand to engage with the customers. It is celebrated to mark the birth of the strongest and most adorable Indian god, Ganpati. A new Idol of Ganpati is bought home, decorated and worshipped every year. At the end of festivity, idol is bid goodbye by immersing in a water body, representing the cycle of creation and dissolution in nature.

However, as the production of Ganesh idols on a commercial basis grew, the earthen or natural clay was replaced by Plaster of Paris (POP), which is man-made and does not dissolve completely in water. Therefore contaminates water and has adverse effects on the environment. To help arrest the environmental hazard and also build the power of 10 hands, Surf Excel Easy Wash set out to actively engage with kids and thereby with mothers to create sensitivity about the environment with the magic of “Power of 10” hands.

Surf Excel partnered with leading publication in the Maharashtra, Daily Sakal, to host ‘Eco-Friendly Ganesh Workshop’. Surf Excel inspired kids to bond together and create Ganpati idols of their own from Environment-friendly materials-clay, thereby adding a socially-relevant dimension to the Cultural celebrations.


Kids were clubbed into groups of five to establish power of 10 hands. Under the guidance of Mentors, Ganesh idols were created of eco-friendly material. To ensure wide reach & awareness, Editorial conversations took place throughout the festivity.

• Call for participation: Advertisements and editorial write-ups were released across all the publications of Sakal group reaching to 4.43 million (Daily Sakal, Gomantak times, Sakal times, Balmitra, Sapthahik Sakal), Balmitra, Young Buzz & NIE, Saptahik Sakal.

• On-ground event: Eco-Friendly Ganapati workshops were held across 14 cities simultaneously (covering 65% of Maharashtra), a week before the main festival. Artists & Mentors guided the Kids in the art of clay modeling and making of Ganpati for the special occasion. “Dirt is Good” & “Power of 10 hands” proposition in its true sense was displayed as 5 kids thereby-10 hands together created one idol, got themselves dirty while making the eco-friendly idols. These idols were then collected from the kids for colouring and decoration, which was later displayed in exhibition to enable people to buy these Idols made with clay instead of regular POP idols. Proceeds from the activity were donated to India Foundation, an NGO.

• Amplification: Press (through Sakal group) was used extensively - 10-half page editorial coverage on each day of the festival encapsulating the importance of Eco-Friendly Ganapati festival, the journey of the kids who were a part of the workshop and reinforcing the philosophy of power of 10 hands to support a good cause.

• Television: Exclusively created co-branded promos capturing “Power of 10 hands” moments were aired on Saam TV reaching to 3 million bytes on experience of buyers along with short snippets of prayers were shot and aired.


Over 7.5 million people were touched through this process, also saw the culmination of the idea and the thought through editorial and TV coverage.

• Inspiring kids ‘the catalyst of change’: - Nearly 10,000 Kids participated in the workshop and about 1,800 Eco-friendly Ganapati idols were exhibited and sold. - Parents testified about being happy to see a brand taking efforts to educate the young minds about environment and the teaching them measures to curb it.

• Building relevance for Brand stature: Notable Improvement in key brand health parameters were observed. - ‘Believe that children develop best when they're free to get dirty’ improved by 33% (44 from 33) - ‘Understand that getting dirty is a positive part of life’ improved 28% (46 from 36) - ‘Conversations about the brand increased by 20% (48 from 40) - Surf Excel Easy Eash critical KPI, ‘Removes tough stains’ moved from 40 to 48 (20% increase).

• Key brand measures:
- TOM Awareness moved up by 40% (5 prior to Activity to 7 post the Activity)
- Total Spontaneous Brand Awareness went up by 14% (35 to 40 during the activity)
*Millward Brown Sept ‘13 Maharashtra Data

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Surf Excel
Household Goods
August - September 2013
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