We are looking to own this space called 'desi Chinese': Ajay Gupta: MD, Capital Foods

Ajay Gupta, Managing Director, Capital Foods speaks about the latest brand film, means of promotion, company plans, markets that work well for Ching’s and current challenges in the FMCG category

e4m by Sarmistha Neogy
Updated: Aug 22, 2016 7:55 AM
We are looking to own this space called 'desi Chinese': Ajay Gupta: MD, Capital Foods

Ching’s Secret, the brand under Capital Foods is back with its popular campaign ‘Ranveer Ching Returns’, which is a 5:30 minute long film in collaboration with Rohit Shetty and actor Ranveer Singh.  The film has already garnered more than 2.5 million views in just two days.

In 2014, the actor was first signed as the brand ambassador to promote the ‘Desi-Chinese brand’ and at that point of time, he changed his surname from Singh to Ching for an exclusive music video to promote the brand’s offerings.

In the latest film, Ranveer Singh is seen romancing actress Tamannaah Bhatia, fighting goons and when the world is running out of food; he enters the scene, with a variety of Ching’s products. The brand wanted a Mad Max spoof with Rohit Shetty elements added in the film.

We spoke to Ajay Gupta, Managing Director, Capital Foods to talk more about the latest brand film, means of promotion, company plans, markets that work well for Ching’s and current challenges in the FMCG category.

Commenting on the objectives behind the latest campaign, Gupta said,We are looking to own this space called ‘desi Chinese’. It is a cuisine which all of us love. Second, once you see the film, the brand is going to get imprinted on your mind forever. When you look at India as a country, every 300 km our food changes, what really connects us are Desi Chinese and Bollywood. As a brand we are both. We have taken the route of Bollywood to go into tier II and tier III cities. Our religion is Bollywood and that is the path we took to make the brand ‘mass’ as quickly as possible.”

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How will you promote the latest Ching’s film?

It is there on YouTube and it gets premiered as a film, so there will be World TV premiere on August 20 after the Kapil Sharma Show on Sony.  There is a repeat after that as well, so for 2 weeks there is exclusivity with Sony. Then we have tied up with other channels as well, where we are showcasing the entire film. We believe that by next month we will have 30 million people who would have seen the film. We are also opening the film next week in theatres as there were no big releases this Friday. And there are over 600 theatres across the country, to give you an idea of the scale of the promotion.

What was the brief given to Rohit Shetty and team?

We told him that Ching’s as a brand is for the mass and we wanted a commercial which is a mass Rohit Shetty film. We told him to create a Blockbuster and weave the brand smoothly in the storyline.

Considering it is a Rohit Shetty production, the cost of the film must be very high. What has been the budget of your new campaign?

I won’t be able to share the exact numbers, but it is equivalent to the size of making an average or a mid-size Hindi movie.

How has Ranveer Singh helped by being the brand ambassador?

Ranveer is not just a brand ambassador for us; he is also part of the marketing team. We decided that when we get a brand ambassador we won’t let him just do the commercial, but will also make him get involved in the process. We have been very lucky with him.

Which medium usually works well for the brand? Where do you end up spending most of your marketing spends?

All throughout the year, we do spend a lot on television, but at the same time we are also very active on social media. In 2011, Ching’s became a case study because it was the first brand on Facebook to cross a million fans. We have 12 channels on YouTube. Number wise, TV takes the maximum spends, but in terms of our focus, it is divided equally between social media, TV and on-ground. We concentrate a lot on sampling the products, with the intention to give the housewife the confidence that ‘I can do it at home, as good as the guy on the street’; that is where we spend a lot of money. So it is a three prong marketing strategy for Ching’s.

Last year, there was news that you have exited from the noodles category. When did you re-enter?

We are not a noodles company, we are a ‘desi Chinese’ brand which is into chutneys, soups, masalas and only one part is noodles. At that point of time, there was too much of controversy happening around Maggi, so we took a call and decided to take it easy. But that was for three months, when the controversy died down; we were back to manufacturing noodles. The Vapi plant was also shut for 10 days.

Which is the most profitable category among all your products?

Soups, masalas, sauces and chutneys work great for us. We all keep talking about noodles, but as a category, it is the least profitable. For us, we are selling a cuisine which includes everything that goes into a thali.

What is the size of Capital Foods and the contribution of Ching’s in it?

We are now an Rs 500 crore company and Ching’s contributes to around 90%. Our other brand Smith & Jones is there, we have recently revamped the brand and will start talking about it soon. 

Which is the main market for Ching’s?

Our largest market is the West and we have not gone down South. This year, with this campaign we will be entering the Southern market and Tamannaah is like the goddess in Telangana, Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu. Except North East and Kolkata, our presence is quite strong in the rest of the Northern market.

Who is your core target audience for Ching’s?

Our core target group is between 18-32 years, so we are basically looking to tap the young consumers and not the older ones.

What are the challenges in the FMCG category which even you are battling with?

I see opportunities, more than the challenges. Yes India has a lot of challenges but I just can’t keep looking at those. As a country, we are 70 years young and we are evolving. The entire culinary food category has not even begun literally; the penetration of this category in the country is not more than 12%, with the exception of Maggi noodles, which also doesn’t go beyond a certain level. So to me, everything is an opportunity right now. Yes challenges like supply-chain, getting raw vegetables are always an obstacle, but opportunities are far more than it.

What are your plans for the upcoming festive season?

We have no festive season. We are a ‘desi Chinese’ brand and people consume it every day, so for me all throughout the year is our season.

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