Surf Excel & Holi: The colourful relationship about togetherness

Over the years, Surf Excel has used Holi as an important tool in its marketing strategy, using heartwarming storytelling. We take a look back at the origins of the ‘Daag acche hai’ campaign and the Holi ads that followed it.

Sneha Medda
New Update
Surf Excel Holi

Every year on Holi, the festival of colours, the detergent brand Surf Excel celebrates getting messy and spoiling clothes with its heartwarming ads. Over the years, the brand has made Holi a central tenet of its marketing strategy and cleverly tangled its messaging of colourful stains. 

The initial concept of the Daag Acche hai’ campaign was hatched in 2005 by Surf Excel and Lowe Lintas. This was a time when detergent brands in the market focused on the functionality of the product, and Surf Excel’s Lalitaji ads mimicked this. 

To move away from this decades-old narrative, the brand thought of bringing in a unique protagonist to the stories — kids. By bringing this new dynamic to the detergent industry, the brand introduced a more heartwarming and softer narrative and encouraged Daag’ in the cleaning category. 

The first Daag Acche hai ad narrated a touching moment between two siblings. After the sister steps into a puddle and ends up crying, her older brother steps in to console her by scolding the puddle and practically fighting it. This innocent portrayal of sibling bond warmed a million hearts and ended with a voiceover  — Daag lagne se agar kuch accha hota hai, toh daag acche hai na?’

After its initial success, the brand went on to add multiple angles to this campaign and made kids the central communicator for the detergent brand. In 2019, taking a step forward, the brand released its first Holi ad under the ‘Daag acche haicampaign, thus positioning Holi as an important event in the brand’s marketing strategy. 

The ad features a young Hindu girl who chooses to get rained on by Holi colours and stains in order to protect her Muslim friend who needs a bicycle to reach the mosque. The heartwarming ad depicts how goodness has no religion and tugs at the audience's emotions, yet again delivering an impactful message. The ad ends with the campaign’s iconic tagline — ‘Agar kuch achha karne mein daag lag jaaye toh daag achhe hain.’ 

Although the ad faced backlash from the audience, its message of bringing people together during festivities and promoting secularism was equally celebrated. The video has now reached 32 million views. 

In 2020, the brand came back with its Holi ad, taking its campaign further ahead. To play it safe and stay away from religious narratives, the brand brought back a kid staining his clothes to reunite his family. This ad was equally moving and yet again delivered the brand’s long-standing association with kindness and togetherness. 

The following year saw a slight tweak in the tagline. 2020’s ad provoked a controversy where audiences were upset about the colours of Holi being called ‘Daag’. In 2021, the hashtag was changed from Daag to #RangAccheHai. This was the first year India and the world were celebrating Holi during COVID, but social distancing was still the norm and the brand cleverly incorporated warmth to this topic. 

Continuing to use colours as the medium of togetherness, the ad saw a young kid help his elderly neighbour celebrate the festival without any physical contact and demonstrated that social distancing should not deter emotional connections.


The 2022 ad featured Sheeba Chaddha as the titular character and talked about keeping your inner child alive. The ad opposed the idea that ‘adults need to act their age’. The story revolves around a little girl who tries to include her aunt in the Holi celebration. But the aunt thinks she’s too old to celebrate Holi. Seeing this, the girl hugs her aunt, imprinting her clothes with Holi colours. The ad ends with the line — ‘Jo rang bachpan lautaye, woh rang achhe hain’.

While in 2023, the brand didn't release a campaign, Surf Excel's journey from ‘Daag Acche Hai’ to ‘Rang Acche Hai’ is like a colourful tale that unfolds with each passing year. Through its storytelling, the brand has used the festival of colours to share powerful narratives about inclusivity, kindness, and togetherness and spread the message that stains, whether they're ‘daag’ or ‘rang’, can indeed be beautiful.

surf excel Daag Acche Hai holi ad