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Pharma cos get Boost(er) dose from cricketers & Bollywood

12-December-2005
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Pharma cos get Boost(er) dose from cricketers & Bollywood

Brand Sachin has boosted many a fortune, and Boost is one of them. Good time, then, for a healthcare brand to piggyback on the remarkable comeback of an icon.

But advertisements for healthcare products and services are only as old as the little master. Kapil Dev spouted the punchline first “Boost is the secret of my energy.”

Then Sachin and Sehwag caught on holding the same brand aloft. Around the same time, Amitabh Bachchan started propagating messages on asthma, and later got involved with Dabur products, AIDS and Pulse Polio programmes.

So did Sachin, Shah Rukh, Sunny Deol and then Saurav Ganguly followed suit, posing for Sona Chandi Chyavanprash. Aishwarya Rai, on the other hand, stood up for the 'eye donation' campaign and Sehwag endorsed Band Aid.

Indeed, pharma and healthcare industry is increasingly relying on star charisma to drive home the “health” message, especially in the over-the-counter (OTC) segment. And now with GlaxoSmithKline Consumer Healthcare (GSK) roping in Kapil Dev to do a promotions across the main towns in the country for its flagship brand Crocin, pharma companies look to have a hit a new formula to popularise their products.

“Even before Crocin, Kapil was the first ever brand ambassador for one of our base brands, Boost, and the brand did exceedingly well,” says Leanne Cutts, director, marketing, GSK. “Now his role encompasses various advertising and promotional activities with the consumer and trade.”

Arguably, celebrity endorsement spells a double bonanza for the companies, say analysts. First, celebrities lend a stamp of credibility on the products, and in turn the companies making them. Second, their support to a cause or an endorsement helps convey the social and health messages appropriately and acts as an instant connect between the cause and the targeted audience. The companies then leverage this link for better gains.

Santosh Desai, president of ad agency McCann-Erickson, agrees. “Celebrities have a strong multiplier effect and subsume all category of products. Today, it is almost a mandatory question in every quarter about their use in advertising. In this sense, pharma companies can't be expected to remain untouched, particularly when prescription drugs can't be advertised. I think celebrity endorsement of OTC products assumes a very important role because the message conveyed is without any entertainment value, ” he said.

Now with the finance ministry mooting FBT exemption to companies signing up brand ambassadors, pharma companies may step up activity to bring in star appeal in their brand communication.

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