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Aditya Agarwal

Director | 24 Mar 2004

“We have always believed in using high-profile celebrities to endorse our brand and it has worked quite well…. The celebrities have added a special value to the brand. We are very hopeful about our association with Amitabh Bachchan. According to industry statistics, sales increase considerably after his association with a brand.”

Over a cup of tea at Emami headquarters in Kolkata, Aditya Agarwal, Director, Emami chats with Jasmeen Dugal about why Emami has no faith in fashion shows, its “power” brands and their lotions’ key differentiator vis-à-vis Ponds.

Q. Emami recently signed up Amitabh Bachchan as brand ambassador, while you already have Sourav Ganguly, Sunny Deol, Govinda and Madhuri Dixit promoting the brand. What are your views on celebrity endorsements vis-à-vis Kolkata market?

We have always believed in using high-profile celebrities to endorse our brand and it has worked quite well. We had Zeenat Aman, Rati Agnihotri, Diya Mizra and Raveena Tandon endorsing our brand when their career was at the peak. Recently, we have roped in Govinda, Sunny Deol, Madhuri Dixit and Sourav Ganguly. And, now we have the most sought-after face in the advertising world — Amitabh Bachchan.

The celebrities have added a special value to the brand. We are very hopeful about our association with Amitabh Bachchan. According to industry statistics, sales increase considerably after his association with a brand.

Q. What is the nature of your association with Amitabh Bachchan?

Amitabh Bachchan has been signed up for a one-year contract, a fortnight back. He will endorse Emami Fast Relief and Emami Navrattan Oil. While the former is an ointment brand, the latter is a light hair oil brand currently being endorsed by Govinda.

The campaign will break within a month. We are yet to freeze on the agency. Lowe, Lintas and Publicis are working on the strategy and creatives, and we’ll take a call within a week.

Q. How has taking on Madhuri Dixit as brand ambassadress and naming a complete range “Beauty Secrets by Madhuri” helped sales?

This is the first time in the country that a range of products has been named after a screen icon. The products were manufactured after intensive research conducted jointly by Ms Dixit and the Emami team. In fact, she had been collecting beauty tips and secrets from across the globe during her tours and wanted to share it with others, and hence, we branded this range of products as “Beauty secrets by Madhuri” and priced it at affordable levels'.

Our association with Madhuri Dixit has helped boost sales, perhaps because the product range is known more as a Madhuri brand more than an Emami brand.

Q. Emami has recently reworked its brand strategy by concentrating on “Power Products”. What are these power products?

Emami has 2 umbrella brands: Emami (personal care products) and Himani (healthcare products). That said, our “power” i.e. the main brands are the Madhuri product basket that includes talc, hair oil, skin cream and three shampoos; Boroplus, which has a market share of over 60 per cent; multi-purpose Navrattan oil; Sona-Chandi, which has two variants – Chyawanprash (winter) and Amritprash (summer); ‘fast relief’ ache ointment; and Menthoplus balm for headaches. These are our ‘power’ categories.

Q. Who is your target customer?

For each of our products, we have individual target clientele. Our chyawanprash, which is costliest in the market, is primarily targeted at the Sec ABC. All our different types of products target different types of consumers: chyawanprash doesn’t sell much in the South due to its nature whereas Navrattan is doing very well there.

Q. Tell us about some of your ground-level activities to promote the brand.

We have always used events to build our brand equity. During the Cricket World Cup, we sponsored an All-India road show to collect good wishes for the cricket team. The road show covered the length and breadth of India. This was handed over to Sourav Ganguly before he left for Australia. When we launched “Beauty secrets by Madhuri”, we launched a Madhuri look-alike contest to build the product range.

We have also sponsored a celebrity old-age Olympics to popularise our fast relief product.

Q. Which are the brands that drive sales growth?

The biggest brand is the Rs 100-crore Navrattan Oil, followed by Boroplus, prickly heat powder and the Sona-Chandi range.

Q. Are you launching any new product this year?

One of the main focus areas will be to expand the Madhuri range, which is doing very well. We are also launching baby massage oil and a range of Ayurvedic OTC medicines.

Moreover, we have test-launched the summer variant of chyawanprash: Amritprash. Going by the success of our original winter brand, we decided to grow its summer variant too; it has positive effects of chyawanprash without generating excess heat. This will be rolled out nationally within a year. Sunny Deol and Sourav Ganguly are the brand ambassadors.

Q. With Lakme, Ponds targeting the same audience, what is your key differentiator?

We are targeting the same audiences but in different categories. Ponds is available only in talc or cold cream form. None of their other products has been successful. Lakme’s focus is on decorative products i.e. colour cosmetics, and lotions.

But we are not available in any of these categories: we are not into colour cosmetics and we are not very big in talcs and lotions. The closest we come to these are with our Madhuri range. And, our differentiator here is the herbal peg.

Q. Have you ever associated with any major fashion shows to build brand equity?

Not in recent times. We have been associated with fashion shows four-five years ago by sponsoring shows with Jatin Kochchar in Delhi and Sharbari Dutta in Kolkata. But it didn’t have the desired results. Our products don’t gel with fashion shows. Perhaps if we had been into colour cosmetics, such events would have helped boot sales. We are into other activities, which include sponsoring the IIFA once and the Cricket Association of Bengal team.

Q. Emami filed a complaint against Rakesh Roshan and his son Hrithik and their firm, Filmkraft Productions, for allegedly violating agreements on displaying its products in Koi Mil Gaya. Can you tell us about the case?

Since the issue is closed now, let’s leave it at that.

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