Aurora Magazine

Promoting excellence in advertising

Lux – The Constant Star

The summer 2023 campaign reveals Maya Ali as the face of Lux.
Published 22 Jun, 2023 02:08pm

If there has ever been a brand that has been constant in embodying glamour, stardom and sensuousness, it has to be Lux. When someone at Lever Brothers (as Unilever was known) then had a brainwave and sent out samples of Lux to Hollywood film stars, a majority responded with an endorsement of the soap and the line ‘Nine out of 10 film stars use Lux’ was born – and the resulting idea of: ‘The soap of the film stars’, has withstood the test of time for almost 100 years.

Attempts to change this positioning caused the brand to decline in some markets, but by the sixties and seventies it was clear that “soap of the film stars” were the magic words. In Asia especially, Lux and film stars developed a symbiotic relationship. If a star was truly a star, she was a Lux girl. If a star was a Lux girl, she had arrived. In Pakistan, every leading lady ever captured on celluloid has appeared in a Lux ad, be it print, film or TV. Suraiya Begum, Sabiha Khanum, Deeba, Zeba, Shamim Ara, Neelo, Rani and Shabnam are just a few of the names from the past that pop up immediately – but the list is long. Those were the heydays of Lollywood. When there was a lull in the film industry, fashion models like Vaneeza Ahmad, Aaminah Haq, Iraj Manzoor, and Iman Ali filled the glamour quotient.

A Lux campaign brings with it the promise of something new, something familiar, something glamorous, and something fabulous. The summer 2023 campaign revealed Maya Ali as the face of Lux, the choice, a recognition of her talent. She bagged the DIAFA award for Pakistani Actress of the Year in November 2022, amongst other awards. Although Maya may not be considered a ‘classic beauty’, she is undoubtedly the face of the quintessentially modern Pakistani woman.

The new Lux campaign ticks the ‘familiar’ box more than any other box. Based on the Chand Sa Roshan Chehra campaign, which originated in India and featured Kareena Kapoor and Saif Ali Khan, followed by Virat Kohli and Anushka Sharma, the idea has a nostalgic feel to it, reminiscent of fragments of old film songs wafting through the air. The line is rooted in the poetic vernacular of the Subcontinent, where the luminescent beauty of the moon is a synonym for feminine radiance.

At first glance, the OOH visuals tease the premise of this idea. Sadly, the TV execution stops short, almost as if a potential flight of imagination was sacrificed at the altar of expediency. The attempt at romance in the Fahad Mustafa and Mehwish Hayat campaign is no longer there. As for escaping into a world of glamour and stardom, the scope appears to have shrunk considerably. From stars luxuriating on cruise liners, making helicopter grand entrances, to the ads of the 2000s which depicted Lux as a glorious experience with high voltage glam, it is a different era now. Times change, as does the definition of glamour, along with budgets and regional constraints.

Zooming back to the summer of 2023, the new campaign presents a cloyingly clannish idea. We see the star winning a Lux Award for Face of the Year, appearing on the red carpet, photographed by paparazzi, followed by an inclusive selfie. Almost a series of stock shots, were it not for the slick styling and production. Granted that the Lux Style Awards are an asset for the brand, but do they really have to be part of a Lux thematic as well?

If we are becoming an increasingly inward-looking society, one of the avenues of creative expression we can still rejoice in is our music. For a campaign originally based on a song line, it is a missed opportunity, so it is all the more ironic that Lux did not cash in by producing a strong soundtrack, along with an idea with more oomph.

Semyne Khan has worked extensively on Lux as Creative Director, Producer as well as Film Director.