Dec 1, 2008

Mktg - India;Bachchan,Dhoni in new challenge

Suvi Dogra

Dabur gets the two together to promote its honey.

Amitabh Bachchan has for five long years now endorsed Dabur Honey all alone, exhorting consumers to ‘Drop Sugar, Switch To Dabur Honey’. Finally, the ageing superstar has company — India’s cricket captain, Mahendra Singh Dhoni. The two will now together endorse the brand with a brand new campaign, ‘Kaun banayega India ko healthy’ (who will make India healthy?).

With two brand ambassadors, both icons in their fields, Dabur has decided to engage Amitabh and Dhoni in a battle of sorts that would decide who can convert more people from sugar to Dabur Honey in the ad campaign which breaks on air this week.

“In effect, this campaign has three heroes — Bachchan, Dhoni and Dabur Honey — and balancing all three is quite a juggling act,” says Lowe Lintas Chairman R Balki, the agency which has done the ads.

Dabur, one of the few big homegrown fast-moving consumer goods brands, has for some years now worked hard to reduce its age profile. It realised that though it had huge brand equity amongst older people, it needs to connect with the youth in order to grow its business. After all, over half of India’s billion-plus population is below 30. While Bachchan has successfully imparted the benefits of honey through the last campaign, Dhoni’s coming on board may just do the trick for Dabur.

The new ad shows a complacent Bachchan gushing over the large number of people he has managed to convert, when his secretary breaks the news to him: “Sir…Aap hi nahi…voh bhi.” (It’s not just you, he too.) Then, Dhoni is seen battling it out for more converts with the tagline, ‘Kaun banayega India ko healthy?’

This is another instance of a company signing on Dhoni to leverage his youth icon status. Before Dabur, Dhoni has done ads for Pepsi’s Youngistan campaign. He also endorses Dabur Chyawanprash. Here too, Dhoni addresses the young consumer, while Bachchan continues to impart the age old benefit of immunity from illness and disease.

However, doing the ad was anything but simple, says Balki. “This year, we had the added opportunity (or the responsibility) of another icon, Dhoni. I use the word responsibility because it isn’t easy to leverage the magic of two mega icons in one campaign. We had to have a creative idea that was sensible, used both of them effectively and entertaining,” says he. “Also, this is quite a nascent category and the benefits of honey need to be spelt out fully and clearly. This automatically takes away sizable time and space.”

The branded honey market in India, which includes that produced and sold by the government, stands at around Rs 150 crore today. Dabur Honey accounts for almost 80 per cent of the total market.

“Dabur has been working on replacing sugar with Dabur Honey. And this campaign too, through this healthy competition, seeks to convey the message that sugar is unhealthy, whereas Dabur Honey is extremely healthy. Therefore, the brand message is very simple — ‘Cheeni ko dhakka maaro, instead have Dabur Honey’,” says Dabur India Senior Marketing Manager (health supplements) Praveen Jaipuria.

Even as he tastes the sweetness of honey with Dabur, Dhoni seems to have his hands full in terms of endorsements. From Big Bazaar, Brylcreem, Boost, Dainik Bhaskar, Parle, Pepsi, Reebok, Royal Stag, Sonata, Siyaram’s, TVS, Exide Industries, Maha Choco, Orient fans to Videocon, the range of products is at par with any big name in tinsel town. The cricketer is known to charge Rs 4-5 crore per endorsement.

Bachchan’s list of brand endorsements, on the other hand, is not getting any longer. He is in his mid-60s. Though still active in films as well as stage shows, he has had to be hospitalised at least twice in the recent past — not the ideal profile to endorse health supplements. So, will he soon make way for Dhoni at Dabur? No clear answers yet, but that’s the question uppermost in most minds.

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