Pitch Exclusive: Marketing sutras from regional champions

How are regional brands like Ghari Detergent, VI-John, Cremica, Emami, Rupa, Catch, Mankind, Lava and Wagh Bakri taking the biggies head-on; and how's their marketing strategy different. Pitch finds out.

e4m by Pallavi Srivastava, Ruchika Kumar & Purba Das
Published: Jul 12, 2011 12:40 PM  | 21 min read
Pitch Exclusive: Marketing sutras from regional champions

If you thought that the tiger and the goat can never be friends, you are wrong. They can gel over a cup of tea. And if you thought that tigers like the Unilever and P&G of the world will gobble up the homegrown goats, you are wrong again. The second largest brand in the home and personal care category is neither Surf nor Ariel. It is Ghari detergent, a 24-year-old brand owned by Kanpur based company, named Rohit Surfactants. The No 1 though is Wheel, which was specifically launched with an objective to counter the popularity of another homegrown brand – Nirma at that time.

The third largest tea company with 7.5 per cent market share is Ahmedabad based Wagh Bakri Tea Group. Meanwhile, VI John, which has hired Shah Rukh Khan, the Badshah of Bollywood as its brand ambassador, claims to be the largest selling shaving cream in India. Pitch takes a look at some of these home-grown brands - the others being Cremica, Catch, Emami, Rupa, Mankind, Linc and Lava, particularly in the FMCG space - how like the paradoxical brand name like Wagh Bakri, have managed to survive in the market, riding high on a different thinking and distinct marketing approach.

Their decisions lie less on the output of crunching numbers and more on the gut feel and self belief. Most of them, as a virtue of being regional brands are closer home to the markets they operate in and understand their customers better than the MNCs, which largely depend on numbers gathered by third party surveys.

Let’s see the standing of some of these brands. Ghari detergent, the 24-year-old brand owned by Kanpur based, Rohit Surfactants’ is worth Rs 2,100 crore, and has outshined some 80 to 100 year old iconic brands like Lux (Rs 1,400 crore) Surf (Rs 1,400 crore) and Colgate (Rs 1,250 crore). Kolkata based Rs 1,200 crore company, Emami, was the first to launch the men’s fairness cream ‘Fair & Handsome’ in 2005. Currently, the brand, worth Rs 120 crore, is the market leader in the category with over 60 per cent market share.








Based out of Ahemdabad, Wagh Bakri Tea Group is the third largest Tea company in India with 7.5 per cent market share. Located in a small town named Phillaur of Jalandhar district in Punjab, is another homegrown brand Cremica owned by Mrs. Bector’s Food Specialities, which is at present the third largest player in the sauce category and the No 1 player in the mayonnaise category in India. Cremica is also the sole supplier of ketchups, mayonnaise and dessert toppings to the QSR giant McDonald’s.

Alok Sanwal, Project Head and Editor, I next, who is a part of a publication group that is a favourite of regional brands, sums up the attitude, as he says, “The regional brands have a very good understanding of the consumer’s point of view. Also, the understanding of what kind of certain products or variants of certain products will do well in a market viz-a viz certain other markets is also very good. The price understanding i.e. where the price sensitivity prevails as well as what variant of a product is liked in which market, in terms of sachet size or pack size is fantastic. Another thing is the distribution, management in terms of geographical reach is also very good. Not just in the heart of the city, but also outside the city areas and small towns . So these are the marketing domains they clearly score over MNCs.”

Marketing decision making

One of the biggest strengths of these brands is that as they are promoter driven, hence decision making is simple and quick and doesn’t undergo rounds of meetings and presentations unlike their MNC counterparts. Harsh Agarwal, Director, Emami Group, cannot help but agree, “As compared to MNCs, our decision making is faster,” he says.

Ali Merchant, Director, Triton Communications, the agency that handles many regional brands like Wagh Bakri and Rotomac says, “These regional promoter led brands don’t have multiple layers of decision. For instance, when an agency is working with an MNC, it may need to give the same presentation twice or thrice or may need to meet two or three different teams before any decision is made. On the other hand, in a company like Wagh Bakri or Rotomac, a project can be cleared or dumped in just one meeting.”

The flip side of that could be that the agencies too aren’t sure when they could be axed from their account roll. But the unfortunate decision again is not whims driven but performance driven. As Sudarshan Banerjee, Head, Ignitee Mudra puts it, “They are quick to dump you (the agency,) if they see that your expertise isn’t working, a thing which often does not happen with big brands. Big brands have a large decision making matrix before you can implement any change; there are levels of teams that the agency has to route through. But here, we deal directly with the Chairperson/promoter, who is able to take a quick decision.”

And these decisions often are not scientific, i.e. backed by numbers or surveys. Most of the times they are gut driven. S N Rai, Co-founder & Director, Lava International, says, “I personally give a lot of importance to my gut feeling. I entered into the mobile handset business was on sheer gut.”

Rai was with LG, when he launched his own mobile handset company, and the fact that LG didn’t too well in this business despite making heavy investments into product development, consumer engagement and trading, did not deter him. “Based on this experience, initially we were thinking of entering the telecom service business and not product business but we were sure that our product had bigger opportunity to grow and based on a strong hunch we entered this market.”

Consumer insight driven

As said earlier this gut feeling is not whimsical but based on experience and the knack of gauging consumer sentiment and consumer insight. The biggest example of this is the launch of men’s fairness cream, Fair & Handsome by Emami in 2005. Research suggested that about 28 per cent of all fairness cream users were men. Emami tapped into this insight and spotted this as an opportunity to launch India’s first fairness cream for men. This was clearly acknowledged by other FMCG biggies and since then, there have been slew of launches in this category including HUL’s Fair and Lovely Menz Active, Garnier Men Powerlight, Nivea For Men, Paras Pharma’s Set Wet Get Fair and recently P&G too has introduced Olay Men Solutions. The men’s fairness cream category is currently Rs 200 crore market and Emami’s Fair and Handsome is the leader in this category with a market share of over 60 per cent (despite all the launches from FMCG big daddies) and contributes to about 10 per cent of Emami’s turnover.

Rai of Lava has another insight to share. Lava was the first brand to introduce an alpha keypad as opposed to QWERTY, being introduced by everyone around. Lava was quick to realize that a majority of Indians were never exposed to a computer or a typewriter or for that matter to a QWERTY keyboard. Consumers as such were sending SMSes through keypads where multiple alphabets were placed on a single key and were placed sequentially. So if they had to upgrade to a full-blown keypad holding smartphone, it could be just simpler for them to have an alpha keypad. The company entered the smart phone market with models B-5 and B-2 with Alpha keypad and it was a hit among consumers. As per the company, Lava B-5 and B-2 together cornered 15-20 per cent of the total QWERTY sales happening at that time in India.

In the case of Cremica, when it entered the ketchup business, the ketchup consumption in the Indian kitchen was low and remained around unconsumed for many days. Nevertheless, ketchup was consumed, even though the bottle remained around for six months. Akshay Bector, MD, Mrs Bector’s Food Specialties (and son of Mrs. Bector who started the company in 1989), says, “We entered the business by ensuring that our bottles have a longer shelf life even after they are opened.”

Complimenting the entrepreneurial spirit of these brands, Ignitee Mudra’s Banerjee says, “They are trend hunters and thereby create a differentiated product and need among consumers.”

Mankind Pharma is another company, which is riding on its strong consumer and market understanding. The pharma company is focusing strongly on small towns and rural markets where the demand is high yet the big companies haven’t made a strong mark. R C Juneja, CEO & Chairman Mankind Pharma, says, “The market is growing at 15 per cent per annum, and this is the biggest advantage. Mankind is growing faster than the industry at around 28 per cent. The reason being we are very strong in emerging markets (small towns, rural markets). We could become the seventh largest company within a few years.”

Meanwhile, the Hamdard Group, which has brand like RoohAfza, Safi, Cinkara, Roghan Badam Shirin and Sualin, feels that it has “ageless brands”. Asad Mueed, Director of Hamdard Group, says, “We were founded with a focus on people and their needs. We continue to stay focused on them and bring products that are unique and serve their requirements. If we serve our consumers well, we will continue to have timeless brands.

ROI focused

If they take quick decisions, they expect quick results too. Most of these entrepreneurs are with deep pockets and can afford a long term brand building exercise before they hope to get even. But that’s not how they operate. They are focused and want quick results on their toplines. Merchant of Triton Communications, says, “They are extremely demanding as a client and have this ‘Day-before-yesterday Syndrome’ that I haven’t seen in the multinational companies. The ‘Day-before-yesterday Syndrome’ means that they want really quick results and they don’t expect the agency to take six months to deliver the objective. Rather, they expect results within days and weeks.”

Even the media owners agree that regional brands have a strong focus on ROI. Avinash Pandey, Executive Vice President, Ad Sales, Media Content and Communications Services (MCCS, the Star Group’s News Network that owns Star News, Star Ananda and Star Majha), says, “These players really know how to track ROI on each campaign and activity. For instance, Mankind Pharma advertised its digestive tablet Gas-o-fast in March 2011. Within weeks they called us and told that the sales of the product had been really good post the campaign and thanked us for the support.”

That means, if the product isn’t delivering, they would not shy from killing the product and moving on with an alternative. This is very unlike of MNCs, who would rethink their strategies and push the product again in the market backed by a massive campaign or a brand rejig. Banerjee agrees, “The entrepreneurs are able to emerge out of failures quickly.”

One reason for that could be the limited geography they play in, coupled with the competitive margins they have for their distributors and retailers – who would push a product with higher margins for them – and eventually competitive pricing.

Value for money products

The low margins on profits, while could come as a hindrance to experiment with product for long, it becomes their strength when they compete with the MNC brands which are most of the times priced higher. Ask the promoters to throw some light on this, and they are quick to defend and argue that it’s not just the low price that makes them a hit with the consumers, but a combination of low pricing and quality products. Harshit Kochar, Managing Director, VI-John Group, says, “We offer a good product at a good price so why will customers choose any other brand over VI-John.”

Surya Foods and Agro’s biscuit brand, PriyaGold is another case study, which has been built up on the low pricing good quality business model. At that time the butter biscuits and cream biscuits space was dominated by the biggies like Parle and Britannia, which BP Agarwal, Founder of Surya Foods and Agro thinks “were available at a price which was out of reach of the masses.” The gap was filled by PriyaGold, which decided to position the brand with a tagline: Haq se mango (Demand by right). “The idea behind the positioning was that everybody has the right to good taste and the right to ask for it. Instantly, the brand became a hit among the masses and currently it is the number four player with a 5 per cent market share,” says Agarwal.

The void left by Nirma, after Wheel overtook its position, has been filled by Ghari detergent. Its communication too revolves around constant research the company goes through to bring quality products to the masses. Rohit Surfactants, the company that owns the brand Ghari deliberately chose to target the economy segment. The economy segment contributes 45 per cent to the detergent market, followed by mid segment with 40 per cent and premium segment with 15 per cent contribution. A spokesperson from Rohit Surfactants calls the segmentation as a simple and matter of fact decision. “Seedhi si baat hai (It is very simple), the economy segment is the largest market and the competition is less in this space, so it made sense for us to venture in that segment.”

Kolkata based Linc Pens followed a similar approach. Linc was the first company to come out with gel pens at a price as cheap as Rs 5, which was not available in the market, earlier. It was a huge milestone for Linc because gel pens helped the company grow fast. “We were also the first to introduce ball pens with a special oil-based gel ink at Rs 5, so we created a category (a first kind in the industry),” says Divya Jalan, Head, Marketing, Linc Pens. She further adds that providing quality at good prices is the brand strategy of Linc Pens.

Meanwhile, as opposed to Ghari and PriyaGold, which have been operating in the economy segment, here’s a group – Dharampal Satyapal (DS) Group, which owns the brand Catch (spices and water) - which rather has chosen to take the premium route. The logic is simple. In a category full of me-too unorganised players, irrespective of packaged or non-packaged products, it makes sense to differentiate yourself by targeting a particular segment. While, the mix of spices would remain the same, one can for sure provide an innovative packaging and check on the quality of spices going inside. That’s where Catch charges a premium. For that matter, even Rajnigandha, the pan masala brand owned by the DS Group, too comes at a premium.

Puesh Gupta, Director, DS Group, says, “An important factor that leads to a successful venture is to understand your customer and customise your products for him. Value for money, teamed with best quality, highlights the commitment of a brand.”

Media buying sutras

So does this all impact their media buying behavior as well. These brands not only please the masses, but are a favourite of the media owners too. Most of the Hindi news channels get about 40-60 per cent of their ad revenues from regional brands. These channels love them, as they come to the table with a no-nonsense approach.

Yes, says the media fraternity unanimously, who feel that the regional players are very hard negotiators, which is mostly done in a very informal environment over a cup of tea, and coffee served along with cookies. The attitude doesn’t make the media fraternity shy away from these deals, as they are “good” in terms of making payments on time. “They always pay on time and most of the times in advance,” says Pandey from MCCS.

And what’s the criterion for selecting a media vehicle? The gut feeling, of course. Sanjay Dua, CEO, IBN, Network18 News Media Network, (Network18’s specialised client facing sales division), points out, “They rely less on the science and give more weightage to gut feeling when it comes to media buying.”

Media professionals feel that these marketers are clear and focused in terms of what they are looking for when it comes to selecting media vehicles. For instance, if a promoter has to launch a campaign, he knows exactly how many and which channels he needs to advertise on.

As most of the times, communication is tactical to keep the distributors informed about their new offers on products and keeping the customer informed about changes or variants for the product - the objective is sales driven rather than brand driven - much of that communication happens through print. Another factor is the proximity of the regional print players is greater than the proximity to the national channels (TV channels), which helps them strike a better deal.

However, Sanwal of Jagran Prakashan as an interesting insight who feels that there is a huge wastage in terms of reach as well as optimum return on investment in media spending by regional brands. “As far as basic buying is concerned, if you don’t really see if the plan was optimum or excessive, then in terms of cost (CPRT or CPT), the effectiveness of buying is higher. I mean, per unit rate of buying of time slots is far better for them. The reason being that newspapers, TV channels, and radio stations, also keep a differentiated price points for regional brands,” he says.

Sanwal has a word of caution too for media marketers, as he feels that high reliance on regional brands could be a “little dicey”. The plans, most of the times aren’t fixed. “They may change plans overnight depending on the situation. There is no fixed pattern,” he adds.

Macro as well as micro advertising

Celeb driven advertising is one of the favourite style of advertising and so you see the biggest celebrities like Shah Rukh Khan, Amitabh Bachchan, Sachin Tendulkar, Madhuri Dixit etc endorsing a plethora of such brands like VI-John, Navaratan, Fair & Handsome, Luminous, and Linc Pens.

Rupa & Co, which sells hosiery products under ‘Rupa’ branding, too is one of the earliest adopters of high profile celebrities. In 1999, the company roped in Bollywood actor Govinda as its brand ambassador for its Frontline range. For its women’s innerwear line, the company has had Aishwarya Rai, Lisa Ray, Celina Jaitley and Koena Mitra, as its endorsers. In 2007, the company roped in Hrithik Roshan for MacroMan, a premium sub-brand. P R Agarwala, Chairman, Rupa & Company, credits Rupa’s brand ambassadors for the “success of the products and building great brand visibility.” Rupa has a series of successful sub-brands like MacroMan, Frontline, Softline, Footline, Jon, Theormocot, Skywings, Zooreka, Bumchum and Interlock & Imoogi.

On roping in Shah Rukh Khan as VI-John’s brand ambassador, Kochar says, “Shah Rukh is known as the don of Bollywood and we are considered as the don of the shaving cream market. So I thought if the two dons came together to drive the product, consumers will acknowledge.”

Rajesh Jain, MD, Prachaar Communications (ad agency for VI-John) adds, “Since Shah Rukh always sports a clean shaven look, he was a perfect fit for VI-John.”

Just to digress a bit, while VI-John can be found at retail stores, yet, Kochar’s unique distribution route of pushing it through salons too makes it a hit.

Coming back to the topic, along with the high volume celeb led macro advertising, most of these brands also focus a big deal on promotions at the micro level including advertising in local media, roping regional celebrities, below-the-line activities etc. Triton’s Merchant says, “These brands are very good at taking both the macro and micro approach in advertising. For example for Wagh Bakri Tea, there is a TVC and print campaign that runs on national media but at the same time, when the brand is entering new markets, it is focusing on giving local flavour to the advertising.” Merchant further shares that Wagh Bakri Tea has recently launched a Marathi TVC specifically shot for the Maharashtra market with a Marathi celebrity to give the ad a Marathi flavour. The brand has Smriti Irani as its endorser in Gujarat.

But most of the times, TV is only a meagre part of their marketing budgets. Parag Desai, Executive Director, Wagh Bakri, says, “We thrive on region based local activities, and sales promotion. In fact, we only spend 15-20 per cent of our marketing budget in TV and print, rest 80 per cent is spent on activities. This is crucial because it is very important to actually know your customers and speak to them in the language they understand. That helps them connect better with the brand.”

What holds them back

While the above points have worked most of the times in favour of the regional brands, the same attitude can become hurdle to put them in the league of Dabur, Godrej or a Britannia. Experts feel that one of the biggest challenge that these regional marketers face when they wrestle at the national level is the muscle power in terms of investment and distribution that the MNCs and big Indian companies have. Apart from that, a complacent attitude and too much focus on short term gains is another factor that holds these brands back. “Most of these brands are too happy with their dominance in selected regions and take decades before they decide to expand.”

Another challenge for these regional brand champs is of talent. As Wagh Bakri’s Desai puts it, “When we are expanding it is very difficult for us to get the right kind of manpower. We have to ensure that person is in sync with our philosophy and thoughts. I personally meet and interview people before hiring them.”

Also, if brand names like Ghari or Wagh Bakri can work, if they decide to go national or international too is a question of debate. Desai of Wagh Bakri, however, disagrees. He narrates that way back in 1992, when the company was mulling to export its tea to international markets like the US, a common suggestion was to rebrand it, besides the obvious thought that tea wouldn’t work in a coffee drinking market. “We were advised to export tea in bulk and not under the brand name Wagh Bakri,” says Desai, adding, “But based on our confidence in the brand and our gut feeling, we decided to export the tea under our brand name only. And today, we are the largest selling brand across North America.” Currently, Wagh Bakri tea is exported in more than 25 international markets.

Lastly, an insight, which the Pitch team felt would become a hindrance, is the low trust, these companies have on media. Pitch team often found it challenging to get the companies’ reactions, for the lack of a PR team or an assigned spokesperson. The spokesperson most of the times is the promoter himself and he could be tough to get because of his busy schedule. While that could work to some extent to avoid negative media, it could also become a hindrance when the company might need to pass on a message.

(The story was featured in the July 2011 issue of Pitch)

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ITC Classmate brings campaign to launch its hook ball pen

The TVC is titled ‘aapne kahan hook kiya?

By exchange4media Staff | Mar 25, 2023 2:00 PM   |   1 min read


Notebook brand ITC Classmate has launched an innovative ball pen called Classmate Hook. The pen’s clip enables its users to hook it to any lanyard, pouch, zip, or loop. As part of the launch, ITC Classmate has also released a TVC titled ‘Aapne Kahan Hook Kiya?’ (Hook it Anywhere) which stems from the consumer insight of losing/misplacing pens frequently. Featuring school children, the TVC lays emphasis on the unique proposition of the ‘Classmate Hook’ Pen which can be carried with ease & can be found by the user when he needs it the most.

Speaking about the new product, Vikas Gupta, Chief Executive, Education and Stationary Products Business Division, ITC Limited, said, “ITC Classmate has been always committed to ensure consumer delight with its high-quality, innovative, and visually appealing products. Students are always on the lookout for tools which can make learning enjoyable while at the same time enhance their performance. Today’s generation is also in search of product propositions that position themselves as ‘smart and cool individuals’ among peers. ‘Classmate Hook’, a modern and trendy Ball Pen with a unique design functionality caters to this trend by adding to their style quotient and convenience, thereby becoming a smart choice for everyone.”


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Zepto’s ‘Nahi Milega’ uncle wows netizens

The 10-min grocery delivery service roped in an uncle from Delhi to build the trending character of Uncle ji weeks before unveiling their brand campaign

By exchange4media Staff | Mar 24, 2023 12:11 PM   |   4 min read


If you’ve been on the internet in the past week, the chances are the words “Nahi Milega” have been ringing in your head. Thanks to Sharma ji (@sharmaji.237) aka Uncle Ji, who has been showing up across our social media feeds and pretty much all over our everyday digital existence- the memes, the reels, the gifs, the stickers, and our emotional damage.

Turns out, this old man is the face of Zepto’s new brand campaign highlighting the brand’s promise with the message that while not all things in life are attainable, unlimited free deliveries on Zepto are.

10-min grocery delivery service Zepto took an edgy route when they roped in an uncle from Delhi to build the trending character of Uncle ji weeks before landing their brand campaign. What were they thinking? Not much. Just shatter some (lots of!) hopes on social media with uncle’s sassy personality, blatant realities, and the catchphrase Nahi milega. How did it fair? Right from some of the most popular meme and reel pages hyping uncle to many influencers and audiences creating their own versions that were max relatable, Uncle Ji became India’s favorite reality check. The character garnered solid organic traction with 10 Million impressions with 10% engagement across all social media platforms; trending at #6 on Twitter, and shared by popular Twitter celebs (CricCrazyJohns, dudeitsokay, shreemiverma) and Instagram Meme pages (Trolls Official, Emo Bois of India, Log Kya Sochenge, Ghantaa, Adult Society).

Saksham Jadon and Parul Agarwal from Youngun said, “Since life isn't perfect, we are all well versed with the emotion of 'Nahi Milega' and the crushing feeling it leaves behind, whether we are 5 or 50 years old. In this campaign we decided to convert this hard-hitting feeling into a brand theme "___ mile na mile, Zepto pe free delivery pakka milega". To establish it, we needed someone who has experienced all ups and downs of life (i.e an old Uncle Ji) and position him as an internet guru dropping truth bombs about life with a 'Nahi Milega' twist as a build up to the brand films”.

Cut to a week after Uncle Ji becomes the vibe-setter of social media conversations, Zepto lands its first brand film today. Set in a quintessential bus commute scenario, the brand film opens to the visuals of a crammed bus, people latched on to handles in lethargy, standing uncomfortably close and resting heads over sweaty patches. As two friends are seen discussing their hopes of finding a seat today on account of leaving early from work, the internet's new favorite Uncle Ji pops out from between them to crash those very hopes with “Nahi Milega”. Cut to Zepto owning the narrative with “Bus mein seat mile ya na mile, Zepto pe unlimited free delivery pakka milega”. The brand is set to launch two more films in the same essence lined up for the next few days.

Boman Irani, too, boarded the bus, taking the first film live on his Twitter.

Anant Rastogi, Associate Director - Brand Marketing at Zepto, said, “Creating this campaign has been an exciting experience for all of us at Zepto. We wanted to bring to life our ethos of making things possible – like unlimited free deliveries – for all our customers. With Uncle Ji's internet-first personality, we were able to strike a chord with our young audience and drive home the brand message. We are certain Uncle Ji will win hearts, and mostly break some, too.”

On bringing the internet vibe to digital films, Sapna Singh, Director, EarlyMan Film, added, “It was as unexpected as it was interesting to integrate a regular seeming Uncle Ji into the films as a strong recurrent character in various whacky forms. Going further with his appearance and demeanour while keeping his trademark simplicity helped add the quirk these films needed conceptually.”

In addition to social assets and brand films, the campaign will grab eyeballs on outdoor media across all major cities of presence and Zepto’s app, with a special grocery recommendation list by the Uncle himself.

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Adman & director Pradeep Sarkar no more

As per reports, Sarkar, 68, breathed his last in a Mumbai hospital on Friday

By exchange4media Staff | Mar 24, 2023 10:48 AM   |   5 min read


Writer, director, ad-filmmaker and founder of Apocalypso Filmsworks Pradeep Sarkar is no more. He was 68.

As per reports, Sarkar was on dialysis and was rushed to a hospital on Friday where he breathed his last.

Sarkar started his career as a creative supervisor at Tulika Advertising Agency and shifted to ad filmmaking after spending almost two decades in mainstream advertising.

In an interview to e4m in October 2021, Sarkar said he felt that the ‘woke culture’ has helped the advertising industry to grow but it has also harmed it by going way out of control.


Sarkar had worked on more than 3000 ad films, including iconic campaigns like Cadbury’s “Pappu Paas Ho Gaya”, Eveready’s “Give Me Red” and Catch Masala’s “Chinese Whisper”. He also did a series of ads for Aaj Tak that aimed at promoting credibility over sensationalism.

Rohit Ohri, Chairman & CEO FCB Group India, reacted to the news: “Shocked to learn about dada's demise. He was such a wonderful human being. When Munch signed on Rani Mukherji, dada made many of TVCs at that time. Had the good fortune of working with him very closely in that period. I really loved his cool, unflappable demeanour. Dada will be missed by the industry.”

Advertising legend Prahlad Kakkar remembered Sarkar, "He was film chief of an agency from Delhi, and he had started making films. What I liked about him was like us he trained a lot of young people under him and his legacy will always remain, even if he is no more, it doesn't matter. Because the people he trained will carry his name forward. Amit Sharma from Chrome Pictures who made 'Badhaai Ho' is one of his trainees. Like him he has trained many others, including Vidya Balan. He always celebrated talent and was very open about training people and setting them up and launching new faces or talent."

"Many of the advertising gurus must have done their first film with Pradeep Da. 'Dada' as we all called him always, also directed first ad film of my career. It was for Himsagar Thanda Tel. Almost two decades back. I was a kid in advertising, Dada was a veteran. But he never made me feel like one. He treated me like an equal. Always laughing, cracking jokes. And his smile was the sweetest. Always eager like a kid to make films, till I last worked with him recently. Will miss you Dada. You are and will always remain 'Dada' for all of us," said Azazul Haque, CCO, Media.Monks India. 

“Pradeep ‘dada’ has been a great inspiration to me and to the industry. I think a lot of us who have had the good fortune to work with him have learnt immensely from him. This is a big loss for the industry and we will miss him a lot,” said Rajdeepak Das, CEO & Chief Creative Officer, Leo Burnett – South Asia.

Ramanuj Shastry, Creative Chairman and Managing Partner, Infectious, says: "There were a couple of years at McCann when every other film I wrote was shot by Dada. That’s a lot of films. He was a maniac on the set - bouncing off the walls with his boundless energy while yelling choicest Bengali swear words at his crew who he loved to bits, by the way. His wicked sense of humour, the mischievous twinkle in his eyes and his easy laughter are the things that remain with me long after the ads are forgotten. Goodbye, Dada! You shall be missed."

"Apart from being a wonderful director, he was a wonderful person as well, willing to work with the agency teams and bring in fresh talent. He was a great presence to be around, he was a very caring person. He had this Sofa, he used to take to all the shoots. It's the end of an era," said Ajay Gehlaut, Ex-Dentsu, Group Chief Creative Officer.

Known for movies like ‘Parineeta’, ‘Mardaani’ and ‘Helicopter Eela’, the director will leave a mark in the film industry too.

The film industry remembered the renowned filmmaker on social media.

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Go viral or go home? Why brands need to rethink their approach

Industry experts warn against advertisers losing sight of their purpose in their quest for virality

By Tanzila Shaikh | Mar 24, 2023 9:12 AM   |   6 min read


Once upon a time, all that an advertiser would want is a creative ad campaign that resonates with the masses and creates recall and value for the brand. Today, it's a different story. Agencies have been putting creativity in the backseat to cater to client demands for "viral" campaigns instead.

With technological advancements like improved tools to scale up campaigns and efficient media to reach audience digitally, demands for virality has gotten more and more strident in recent years from the advertisers, much to agencies' chagrin.

In the race to chase numbers and eyeballs with a viral campaign, agencies are being tasked with finding a fool-proof course to make the campaign go viral. But is there a way to predict virality?

Not too long ago, the Zomato-Blinkit billboard campaign became a gold standard in viral campaigns where brands across categories hitched their wagons to it. The sharability and humour contributed to the immense virality of the campaign. Was Zomato privy to an arcane algorithm to ensure that the campaign went viral? Not likely. Can any agency worth its salt make an ad go viral with just enough creativity? e4m asked experts.

Russell Burrett, Chief Experience Officer at TBWA\India, answered, “First off, let’s be very clear that creativity is a tool, a weapon, a solution. Whereas virality is an outcome. No one can deliver truly viral content on demand. But sure there are a few ingredients that can go into the mix to help an idea go viral."

He explained further: "Go to where the people are. That really means talking about things that are culturally relevant, using people who will have a cultural cache. Try and figure out why people will share this content and dial that bit up. It may still not go viral, because it’s still an outcome, but these ingredients can definitely help.”

Ajay Gehlaut, Ex-Dentsu, Group Chief Creative Officer, pointed out the absurdity of clients making such demands. “It's been going on ever since the word viral came up, ‘make a viral video.' You cannot make a viral video; you can make a video and hope it goes viral. You cannot hope for virality, you can make a good piece of communication. Usually what goes viral is the lowest denominator.”

Similarly, Shivil Gupta, Creative and Strategy Consultant, added, “Today everybody wants to be in the news at any cost. But when it comes to a brand we need to understand that consumer always associates themselves with the goodness of the brand. Asking creative people to think of an idea while keeping the virality factor in mind is a dangerous path. Remember there is a thin line between famous and notorious.”

Azazul Haque, Chief Content Officer at Media.Monks believes that demands for virality can often work to the brands' detriment. “In Advertising, creativity has a purpose, it is purposeful communication for the brand to awareness or increase sales. When brands say virality, everything takes a backseat. It doesn’t hamper the creative as much but it hampers the objective. Many times clients say - forget the objective, and then they want any random thing to happen," he rues.

“I think it loses the marketing communication objective more than it loses the creativity because then you’ll have to be contextual, and topical so that it goes viral. I think that brands that have nothing to say, end up saying they want to make something viral. I think the push for virality makes the brand lose perspective.”

It is an important factor for campaigns to reach the target audience and become a part of dining table conversations, brands should not pressure creatives to come up with a viral campaign because as spoken above by the experts, virality is the byproduct of creativity, strategy, medium and many other factors. Experts advise brands to go after creativity than being part of the rat race.

Aalap Desai, CCO Dentsu Creative West and Dentsu Creative Experience, India, said, “The word 'viral' is highly ambiguous. I feel people use that as a crutch to compensate for parts of the brief they can't answer questions for. It cannot be planned or figured out completely. You can only hope that what you create goes viral. You cannot guarantee that it will every time.”

“One thing that is guaranteed is that if we create something that has craft in it, it will be shared and appreciated. Craft might be the idea or the way it's made. But if the idea is made well, people appreciate it. It's a lot like Bollywood. We are not supportive of movies like Shehzada but we are super appreciative of movies like Kantara. Did the filmmakers of Shehzada plan it to be a flop? No. But did they create a flop? Yes. The same applies to advertising. Let craft and creativity breathe and the viral requirement will be fulfilled as an after-effect. You can't start with it.”

Similarly, Barrett said, “We are in the business of creativity. We aren’t in the service industry or the consultation business. Service and advice are very important parts of our business, but it isn’t the core. Creativity isn’t an indulgence, it’s our very reason for existence. Though I want to call out the difference between creativity and the creative department. Every department is in service of creativity. You can’t be In advertising and not be creative.”

Gehlaut wants brands to understand where they stand and act accordingly. He said, “Make sure to be consistent, virality is something to talk about at parties. It builds only conversations, I don't know how it helps. First, know your brand, then build it in every touch point, and put it in every piece of communication.”

Haque says that if the brief starts with ‘let's do something viral’ then the brand has to rethink its purpose. He said, “Virality is a fluke, and one should never run after flukes. Running after such short-term fame won't help a brand in the long run. If ‘Let's do something viral’ becomes your brief, the brand has lost its purpose. There have to be reasons to go after it.”

Gupta rounded it up by saying that if the brand communication is genuine that it will surely have the potential to go viral. He said, “Better we should try to come up with genuine ideas which complement the brand. We are in a business where a real challenge is our talk of the town concept should also be discussed at the dining table among the family members. Idea achcha hoga toh charcha zarur hogi.”

In older times, when data technology wasn’t handy, brands used tactics to measure the success of their campaign through various touch points, and an increase in sales was one of them. Virality may help to create awareness among consumers, but does it really help to spike sales, which is the end goal of any business, is still a conversation out there.

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Lloyd launches new campaign with star couple Deepika & Ranveer

Conceptualised and created by McCann, the campaign is named ‘khayaal jo ghar ko ghar banaye’

By exchange4media Staff | Mar 23, 2023 5:37 PM   |   2 min read


Home is considered the epitome of love and care, it is this “Khayaal’’ by our loved ones that makes us feel cared for, loved, and pampered at home. Building on to this strong emotion, Lloyd has launched new campaign starring Deepika Padukone and Ranveer Singh. The newly launched campaign promotes Lloyd Grande heavy duty air conditioner range and position it as an enabler of the care and love at home.

Conceptualised and created by McCann, the Lloyd campaign film is focussed on driving differentiation and deliver on its newly introduced brand promise of ‘Khayaal jo ghar ko ghar banaye’.  The storyline of the ad film takes a creative, fun route and tries to build on the ultimate symbol of “Khayaal (care)” and “Khushi (happiness)” – the home. It beautifully depicts Deepika’s gesture for Ranveer when he crashes on the sofa the cool gush of air hits his sweaty face. He looks at the Deepika lovingly and Deepika highlights the core thought of the brand through her gesture ‘Jaan ho meri, khayaal toh rakhna padega na’.  The campaign storyline cements the brand promise by showcasing the superior features of Lloyd Grande heavy duty air conditioner with powerful cooling (even at 60 degrees) and indoor air purification to create a stronger brand connect.

Alok Tickoo, Executive Vice President, Lloyd, said, “We are delighted to launch our summer campaign to further deepen consumer connect and strengthen our presence in the Northern region. Our campaign showcase that the Lloyd Grande heavy duty range offers most convenient and comfortable environment at home even at a temperature 60 degrees outside with plasma protective shield.”

Commenting on the campaign, Rohit Kapoor, EVP – Brand Marcom, Havells India Ltd said, “Our attempt with the launch of summer campaign is to integrate Lloyd air conditioner performance and the emotion of a home with the brand.  The home provides a natural setting for all consumer durables to be used and showcased. Therefore, our brand promise ‘Khayaal jo ghar ko ghar banaye’ resonates with our vision to build greater trust and affinity for air conditioner portfolio.

The mega campaign will be supported with extensive media push. The 360-degree campaign is live and promoted across all mediums – Television, Digital, Print, Outdoor and BTL and retail visibility. It will be aired on Cricket, GEC, movie, news, and regional channels.

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Magicbricks launches campaign, reiterating promise to assist customers find dream homes

Unveils Video trilogy celebrating Chennai, Hyderabad and Bengaluru as real estate growth engines

By exchange4media Staff | Mar 23, 2023 5:30 PM   |   2 min read


Magicbricks has launched a multi-city, omnichannel marketing campaign #OurCityOurHome to celebrate the growth engines for real estate in India and reiterate its commitment to partnering home seekers to find their dream homes in these cities.

The campaign’s cornerstone is a trilogy of long-format videos that tug at the heart, offering home seekers a view into the evolution of each city and showcasing a melange of cultural nuances, heritage, hotbeds of growth, culinary delights, and contemporary lifestyle of Chennai, Hyderabad and Bengaluru as real estate growth engines. The campaign is timely, with residential demand growing throughout the country. According to Magicbricks Research, in 2022, 80% of potential home buyers searched for apartments, up from 67% in 2021, and Bengaluru was the most searched city in India for purchasing properties.

Elaborating on the campaign, Devarshy R. Ganguly, Head of Marketing, Magicbricks shared, "For more than 15 years, we at Magicbricks have been serving customers throughout the country in their quest for a home. As the cities have evolved, so have we, and have grown and gained deep insights into the evolving needs of our customers. Consequently, we are ideally placed to partner with home seekers in making this important decision. This campaign is a reflection of our deep understanding of these cities and how we are best placed to serve as the gateway for customers to find their dream homes.”

A unique element of the campaign is the massive outdoor strategy with bespoke communication for each city. The messaging is tailored to popular neighborhoods, city landmarks, and crafted with local language nuances, featuring more than 40 unique creatives across 355 sites in eight cities (Noida, Gurugram, Ahmedabad, Mumbai, Pune, Bengaluru, Hyderabad, and Chennai).

To further amplify reach and engagement, Magicbricks has collaborated with over 200 content creators and micro influencers across these cities. The campaign is also active across 10+ digital platforms and high affinity TV channels to reach out to core audiences.




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Navyāsa launches campaign with cricketers from Delhi Capitals, WPL

The campaign recognizes the many roles that every woman plays making them unique

By exchange4media Staff | Mar 23, 2023 4:06 PM   |   2 min read


Navyasa By Liva launched their new campaign, #freetobe with ladies from the Delhi Capitals team of the Women’s Premier League. The ad film portrays and salutes today’s bold, self-reliant women who dares to dream. navyasa by liva is the official principal partner of Team Delhi Capitals for the Women’s Premier League.

The campaign recognizes the many roles that every woman plays making them unique. It celebrates their courage, passion, and, spirit that is letting them #freetobe. The video showcases the players in a new light as they look stylish and fashionable in sarees.  They work hard, but play hard too, and give style goals as they flaunt their glamorous sides.

The campaign film is live on YouTube, Facebook and Instagram, and grabbing a lot of eyeballs already.

As a part of the campaign, Indian all-rounder player Jemimah Rodrigues, South African all-rounder player Marizanne Kapp, and Titas Sadhu also visited to the navyasa by liva store in Palladium Mall for an interaction with their fans. The event was hosted by sports presenter and lifestyle influencer Tanvi Shah.

ManMohan Singh – Chief Marketing Officer – Grasim Industries Ltd | Pulp & Fibre said, "We are proud to associate with the Delhi Capitals team of  Women’s IPL 2023. The brand essence of Navyasa by Liva is to cater to the woman of today who can do anything, be anything and achieve everything. This film is a way to honour and celebrate the WPL players who are breaking prejudices and bringing in a new era of cricket in India.”

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