The brand that went beyond the Angry Young Man fad to introduce Indians to The Complete Man. The Raymond Marketing Journey....
Older than our 2-minute Maggi noodles and the one who has seen our country’s struggle for independence, this brand’s journey is far more than a legacy. Just six years away from entering into its centenary year, Raymond runs strong at 94. Neither an anniversary special nor a news piece, in this series we trace the age-old brand’s spectacular journey as they made the Indian man ‘The Complete Man’.
The Iconic 94-year-old Journey
Sowing the roots
It was in the year 1925, when India was still reeling under the British Raj, that the roots of Raymond Limited were sown in the heart of Maharashtra - Mumbai (then Bombay). A small woolen mill named as Raymond Woollen Mill was set up in Thane. In 1944, when Lala Kailashpat Singhania took over Raymond, the mill was used to manufacture coarse woolen blankets and modest quantities of low-priced woolen fabrics. After India attained freedom they set up a manufacturing unit JK Files in 1950 for indigenous engineering files. Achieving one its milestones was Raymond when in 1958 it forayed into retail with the launch of the first exclusive retail showroom in King’s Corner – Ballard Estate, Mumbai.
Modernisation - A way of Life
The 1960s saw the company switching to fine and sophisticated machinery imbibing modernization in its core value and proposition. ‘Since then modernization has become a way of life at Raymond,” mentions the company’s website.
The one difference that set them apart was while the former positioned itself as an aspirational brand for achievement, the latter promoted itself as ‘the brand that everyone can afford.' The shift in their proposition also reflected in their communication.
Vijaypat Singhania - The Raymond Man
It was now the time for the scion to take up the reins in 1980. Dr Vijaypat Singhania, son of Lala Kailashpat Singhania was appointed as Chairman of Raymond. Under his leadership, Raymond started exploring different sectors like indigo denim, charter air services, and more.
This was also the period when Raymond took it on themselves to re-define the definition of masculinity as they began to push The Complete Man through integrated campaigns.
Be it a loving father or a supportive partner, the black and white hues became a signature of the Raymond ads.
“The first time I looked at suiting advertising was when I was asked to handle the brand Cali-ber from Calico Mills. The pioneering work done by Frank Simoes for Raymond is still fresh in my mind. The ads did not glorify suiting or a macho man but were a masterclass in the art of subtle selling,” shares Ambi Parameswaran, Brand Strategist and Founder- BrandBuilding.com.
Raymond - The Bold Man
After styling men for a long time now, Raymond was out to break stereotypes and taboos. It went on to launch Kamasutra (The word that can’t be talked about in public even today) in the early 90s. Within a year of the launch, Kamasutra became the second-largest condom selling brand in India.
In 1991, Kamasutra launched one of the most controversial ads of the Indian advertising industry - ‘For the Pleasure of Making Love’ created by the legendary, Alyque Padamsee, starring Pooja Bedi and Marc Robinson. The campaign depicted sensuous scenes much to the horror and surprise of their audience and the ad world.
In the mid-80s and early 90s, Raymond also broke free of the Angry Young Man fad and brought forth a different side of masculinity with The Complete Man. The brand spoke about the other side of masculinity, once again, a subject that brands still get bashed for speaking about.
In 2018, Raymond featured a visually impaired Indo-Canadian singer and writer Jugpreet Singh Bajwa, who gave an ode to the color Black, introducing the brand’s All Black Collection. Created by Grey India, the campaign was lauded for its choice of narrative.
And the legacy continues
In 2000, the legacy was passed onto Gautam Singhania where Vijaypat gave 37.57 % of the total shares to him. This is when ‘The Complete Man’ reigns were managed by RK Swamy BBDO and the campaign witnessed some of its most prominent campaigns.
Shekhar Swamy, group CEO, RK Swamy BBDO said to Economic Times, "When we took over the advertising, the man was at the centre of all ads, the focus from clothes had moved. That was something missing."
Soon the agency began to re-focus on the core product by focussing on the suits. At this point, the campaigns were about a suited model going through some tasks of life, usually with a prop, all through gracefully, adorned in his Raymond outfit.
“The baseline ‘Raymond -A New Kind of an Executive Statement’ was a classic. Then came the Raymond - Complete Man series done by Nexus Equity by the team Rajiv Agarwal, Rajan Nair, and Arun Kale. The print ads were great and the TVCs is so relevant even today. I would submit that those were really the best advertising that has been done in this country for the apparel category,” Parmeswaran opines.
The Growth Story
Cut to March 2018, while the company still marches on the goodwill lane, it mulled over cutting down on ‘Maker’ for the mass market which was launched in 2011 and targeted at smaller towns and rural areas with an aim to compete with players like DelMonte, Vimal, Siyaram and Grasim.
Sanjay Behl, CEO, Lifestyle, Raymond, was quoted by The Hindu BuinessLine stating, “Raymond managed to reduce its losses by 58 percent at Rs.14 crore. “We now want to drive maximum profitability at the cost of volumes by having higher margins.”
As per March 2018, Raymond Limited possessed a net worth of 1,317.06 crore up from 1,224.04 crore in 2017. RAYMOND is one of the top 500 Shares identified by Dynamic research team at the end of every quarter out of 1700 Shares of NSE.
‘A Complete Man’ to ‘Raymond ReImagined’ - the Saga Continues
Meanwhile, it would be wrong to state that Raymond’s advertising has taken a full 360-degree circle but has reinvented itself. From ‘The Ultimate Man’ to ‘The Complete Man’ to ‘Raymond ReImagined’, the brand has revived with the time.
Portraying a caring husband, a well-read man, a doting father, an honest friend, an obedient son Raymond while subtly integrating the product features showed ‘the Complete Man’ highlighting all the aspects of his personality and emotions through all these years.
“In the last ten years Raymond has been trying to rekindle the ‘Complete Man’ mystique. Succeeding occasionally too,” Parameswaran shares. A testimonial of the same, Raymond 'The Complete Man' TV commercial (husband-baby) winning the "National Laadli Media & Advertising Award for Gender Sensitivity in 2013-14.
No less than the video ads, as Parameswaran pointed out, Raymond’s outdoor and print advertising has been touted as the best to date.
Parameswaran added here, “I liked the current series of advertising that presented the Raymond Khadi collection. I am however missing the big brand picture for which Raymond has been famous for. Time to reinvent Complete Man for this age. Or to bring back ‘Executive Statement’?”
Be it the launch of their Autumn Winter Collection or the ‘All Black’ Collections or the ‘Raymond Whites’ campaigns, every story puts the spotlight on the desire to be a complete man.
“The complete man has been an iconic campaign which most of us have grown up on. Very rarely have fashion brands managed to go beyond the product, however, Raymond has successfully created a brand with a very powerful narrative. My favourite of the lot is the school teacher retiring. What has really - stayed with me over the years is their signature music tune,” Nisha Singhania, Co-Founder, Director, Infectious.
The brand’s advertising journey has shifted from the family man and a hero-led communication to a more product heavy spot pitched in favour of the aesthetics of the fabric.
“Raymond, to me, has always been one of the iconic brands created in this country. There was a time when almost every urban young man’s first suit was inevitably from Raymond’s,” expresses, Subhash Kamath, CEO and Managing Partner, BBH. “I fondly remember a campaign in the ‘70s (I think) titled “What the well dressed man should be wearing”. They established themselves as thought leaders in male fashion with that campaign.”
Reiterating the success of ‘The Complete Man’ Kamath shares, “the real breakthrough in imagery, came with the launch of The Complete Man. At a time when all suiting brands were looking the same with standard shots of machismo imagery, Raymond broke through the clutter by portraying the sensitive side of the Indian man.”
Kamath feels that while the brand might have lost the plot a for few years, till about 2 years ago, Raymond advertising today is looking far more younger, dynamic and fashionable, keeping in tune with the millennial generation.
“And what remains as a constant reminder of its iconic status is the delightful signature tune that has stayed with the brand through generations,” he concludes.
PS: Subhash Kamath’s favorite suit from his wardrobe is of Raymond
Adapting to Digital
Although Raymond has always bet big on Television and Print, the advent of digital and it’s impressive reach has made the age old brand to foray into the digitalverse.
In 2012, Raymond created a platform for young, aspiring models across India to make a mark and achieve their dreams in the world of men’s fashion. Titled ‘Raymond Model Hunt’ the activity was executed via Facebook, as a tribute to the new-age social media friendly Indian male.
In 2013, Raymond took a break from the ‘Complete Man’ imagery and aimed to explore his passionate side and interests in life. It unveiled the ‘Drive for Passion’ where the users were asked to share the story of their first driving lesson or very first car or a road trip taken with friends.
On digital, Raymond is seen dividing its content into product-centric slices, making them relatable for the right niche amidst the clutter.
As of now, Raymond's digital presence is all about #TailorYourStyle, a campaign presenting a narrative of the art of fine tailoring and its legacy of aesthetic perfection for Raymond Custom Tailoring.
The Family who gave us Brand Raymond is no more a complete one and stands distorted at the moment. The father-son duo have taken legal route against each other for different reasons.
However, this doesn’t erase some of the finest memories of the brand from our minds, that's the power of The Complete Man.
With additional inputs from Saloni Surti.