Fun, wit, quirky, desi and an apt product placement, sum up 40 years of Hajmola advertising journey. The brand is winning hearts through digital now and we couldn’t help but revisit its past.
I still remember quarreling over how Hajmola’s Imli flavor is better, in fact, the best, when my friends forced me to choose the regular one every time. Though I wasn’t able to ever convince them, our love for Hajmola has been no different. A bottle of Hajmola tablets still adorn my office desk- because who doesn’t love them?
The ‘Chatpata swad’ has been satiating our taste buds for almost four decades now with the brand launching more flavours that of anardana, amrud and the most recent one Chatcola whose ads feature the angry man Ajay Devgn in a light mood for a change. Of late the brand has shifted its focus towards the millions of Indian youth and is also building its social foundation slowly and steadily.
The Humble Beginnings
Dabur has a rich history of over a century and more years focused on ayurvedic or traditional Indian OTC medicinal products. Back when people could not afford healthcare and medicines, Dr. SK Burman mass produced ayurvedic medicines which could be bought from or consumed without prescriptions. The digestive KV tablets, when Dabur decided to be a full-fledged FMCG company, were named Hajmola and launched officially in 1978 to be marketed by the same name thereafter. Its core proposition of ‘fun, taste and digestion” and its benefits were conveyed simply by its tagline of years- Chatpata swad, jhatpat aaram, (tastes good, provides instant relief).
And the Advertising Begins
In the 80s when our ancestors were realizing their affinity towards the British sport Cricket and the national team was being prepped up for a fierce battle, Hajmola roped in captain Kapil Dev in a TV commercial discussing the game and revealing what made Dev say- ‘Ye baat kuch Hajam Nahi Hui’. The plan then was to establish Hajmola as the go-to digestive tablets with everyone’s favourite hero Kapil Dev as the face.
In 1989 came the Masterji ad that never fails to evoke nostalgia. Shot in a school hostel, the film with a black & white appeal shows the boys were awake and up for some fun when they hear their ‘Masterji’s footsteps’ approaching.
When it launched its Imli variant in 1990, Hajmola’s commercials featured Bollywood actress Mallika Sherawat in a quirky and fun avatar.
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Dabur did it’s best to firm Hajmola’s position in the market as a family product- right from the kids to the grownups barring any income groups due to its affordability and accessibility. Through commercials addressing humans dealing with the issue of indigestion and how the tablets can cure it in much lesser time, Dabur Hajmola found its place in almost every Indian shop and heart. In the 2000s, the brand had more than 60% market share in the digestive products markets worth Rs150 crores.
Marrying ‘Chatpata’ swad to Humour
As times changed, consumers changed too and so were their tastes and preferences. Where Hajmola was once trying to cater to an audience which was still advancing towards progress and a better lifestyle, it now had the responsibility to communicate to the masses who were not only intellectual but also the decision makers. The consumers demanded more distinct advertising and the brand rolled up its sleeves to serve them a witty and quite a dose of humor through their advertising simultaneously launching various products such as candies under the Hajmola banner. According to online reports, the company had stated that a new format like candy brought new consumers, mostly kids, into the brand fold.
In 2002, Delhi’s Lowe Lintas won the mandate of Hajmola Tablets creative mandate while Hajmola candy was left with Mudra Communications. The brief at that time was to ‘drive sales’ and top-of-mind recall. At that time, Hajmola was facing competition from Pachnol and Swad and Eno. It was said that the brand needed an image makeover to sustain in the market without losing the fun element as it’s core.
Agam Chaudhary, CMO, Digitalabs-a unit of Laqshya Media Group terms Hajmola as the nation’s favourite. He added, “Can you remember a time when Hajmola was not around? Me neither! Hajmola is undoubtedly one of the most influential brands in Dabur’s portfolio and has come a long way. With the changing backdrop of the evolving country, Hajmola remained a constant favourite of the nation. However, it has evolved itself to match pace with the ever-changing trends of the country, along with the world.”
The ‘Star’ Connection
In the late 2000s, Dabur decided to undergo a revamp in it’s brand strategy. With youth forming the major part of India’s population, Hajmola moved away from it’s ayurvedic positioning to a soft and mild digestive product with a light, naughty and younger appeal. The company associated with megastar Amitabh Bachchan.
Big B helped the brand tell a different narrative in a quirky manner and is claimed that bringing him on board was a brilliant move by Hajmola as everyone related to it from heart and soul. His playful persona in the commercials made the brand revamp a successful strategic decision. During the time it was occupying 75% of the digestive market, Dabur itself being at the helm of the category. DryPen in 2009 quoted K.K. Rajesh, executive vice-president, Dabur saying, “With a category penetration of close to 80% (which means eight out of every 10 Indians have used digestive tablets), the company claims that around 20 a million Hajmola tablets are consumed every day in India.”
“Another reason for Hajmola’s success is that it has kept pace with the evolution of the consumer. Earlier, Hajmola was available only in glass bottles and was more of an in-house consumption product. But the introduction of Hajmola in pouches gave consumers an option of buying and consuming it on the go.”
In 2012, Hajmola brought onboard Ajay Devgn as the brand ambassador and he continues to remain the one till date. The brand proposition being serving chatpata humour and fun-filled advertising, Devgn has been more or less successful in adorning the much-needed fun avatar.
On Ground Activations
Along with the traditional digestive property, the company claimed that it wanted Hajmola to enhance the value of every meal. Amidst the makeover, Hajmola launched a slew of initiatives. It tied up with Dabbawallas in Mumbai who provided Hajmola sachets for free with every tiffin they delivered. ET quoted a company spokesperson saying, “This was also a great way to sample new variants, like pudina (mint) and kaccha aam (raw mango). Other points of sale activation during sampling included dhabas (highway eateries) and swanky QSRs, like Nirula’s as part of the activation campaign titled ‘Hajmola Ka Chatkara Kare Khana Complete’, where one sachet of Hajmola was given with every bill cut for two years in a row. In the same vein, collaboration with Indian Railways and FM radio stations countrywide to rope in prospects wove in the ‘fun’ element.”
Living the Moment- The Digital Way
In an age where digital advertising is all about creative and impactful storytelling, Hajmola stuck to it’s brand characteristics and what it stands for. Although there is no instance where it has mastered the art of Youtube advertising or Facebook stories, it’s social media pages are no less than a fun riot. Recently when it took a jab at the #JCBKiKhudaai trend to joining the topical bandwagon with the age-old hashtag #BaatHajamNahiHui during the ICC World Cup, the creatives are a concoction of wit and humour.
If topicals weren’t enough, the brand is also keeping its consumers engaged with some antic posts, contests, and content.
Chaudhary observed that Hajmola is not short-sighted in its marketing campaigns and has managed to bring in an amalgamation of everything that is happening, both at the local level as well as international level, to our notice. Starting from Election Campaigns, to World Cup 2019, to trending memes of social media, timely puns to the nostalgic threads, their campaigns cover all areas, and they don’t miss a step. Their glocal approach has managed to win hearts as they take international issues and mould them to appeal to the local audience so that they can resonate with the same. Their pricing is low enough for the diverse economic groups of the country, earning them high brand loyalty. As a result, the brand has observed 50% growth in just a span of the last six months, making it a top contender to take over FMCG brands in the health drinks market.
From bold variant in flavors and theur marketing strategy, Hajmola seems to have it all!