Strength to humour to celebrity quotient – The journey of cement marketing!

cement marketing

Evolving from a low involvement category to a highly engaging one, cement marketing has seen it all! From claims of strength and durability to The Great Khali!

Cement, typically defined as a low involvement category (where the end consumers depend on intermediaries) used to advertise less frequently and talk about strength as its core component. Today however, it has moved to touching other emotions in their campaigns.

Jagdeep Kapoor, Managing Director, Samsika Marketing Consultants said, “It has mainly gone through three phases- first was a commodity moving to a brand, the second phase came in with emotion, where you saw family constructing the house or they are inaugurating it. The final phase is now of innovation, whether getting a celebrity or a robot to break the clutter.”

From incorporating humour, using celebrities to having a robot, brands are trying their best to create recall and salience in this cluttered space.

Dalmia DSP Cement came out with their latest campaign featuring a robot to highlight the durability and strength of the brand, something that hasn’t been seen before. J. Walter Thompson Kolkata had conceptualized the film.

Anirban Paul Chowdhury, Assistant Executive Director, Marketing, Dalmia Bharat Group shares, ” Yes traditionally cement was considered as a low-involvement category, but the trend is rapidly changing as consumers are more informed nowadays thanks to an ever increasing advertising spend by most companies using new age media like digital. With this changing trend, communication from cement brands have also evolved over the period. It is no more only the product features, but pre & post sales value-added services are equally important. ”

According to Aarjun Mukherjee, VP & Exec Creative Director, Creative J. Walter Thompson, Kolkata, in terms of brief there were two very clear challenges for to tackle through this campaign.

“In a category already crowded with big national brands and well entrenched regional brands in various parts of India, how do you create space and command a premium for Dalmia DSP. In the bargain, how do you get across the brand’s technological superiority in a nice, credible way,” Mukherjee adds.

As the category clutters further with established brands and local players, the need for storytelling and innovation gets more pertinent. Just to give an idea of how cluttered the industry is, TechNavio’s analysts forecast the Cement market in India to grow at a CAGR of 8.96 percent during the period 2014-2019.

Ram Gudipati, Founder and CEO, Brand Harvest further opines, “Cement earlier used to be only spoken from the strength perspective and as a category also it was not something that was heavily advertised. But today there are so many brands that you need to stand out from Brand A and Brand B. From the basic fundamental point of view, cement as a category stands for strength, but every brand can’t keep on talking about strength. That is the reason brands need to differentiate in their communication.”

Also Read: Vodafone Pug: Then, now, and forever

Emotional quotient

Emotional ties are proving to be a strong adhesive for cement brands. Last year, Wonder Cement released their ad ‘Shuruaat Karo, Pakki Baat Karo’ which aimed to touch a chord with its consumers regarding nation building. In the ad, the brand used education as a metaphor to emphasize on the importance of a strong foundation (cement).

JK Super Cement’s ad talks about the emotional homecoming journey of a young soldier, who wants to ensure the safety of his mother and fulfill her dream of the perfect home.

MP Birla cement stands out from the clutter by their on site expert advice which is usually highlighted in their commercials.

Infusing humour

Humour has been one of the favourite emotions which brands in the cement category have used time and again. The old Hathi cement ad, where the ghost discovered the strength of the cement tickled our funny bones back then.

Ambuja Cement’s ad with WWE Heavyweight Champion The Great Khali, conceptualised by Publicis Groupe, used the wrestler’s strength to drive home its ‘walls that cannot be broken’ message. The humourous and lighthearted approach taken by the brand to highlight the story of Khali’s life and how the strength which gave him recognition was turning to be his biggest problem. It created a storm on the internet and till date it is one of the most memorable cement ads.


However, Mukherjee from J. Walter Thompson  feels, “In this category humour has now been overplayed. Most cement brands are using humour as a route to connote strength and rather than standing out, the consumers are finding it difficult to differentiate between brands.”

Celebrity Quotient 

Brands in the category have also banked on the popularity of celebrities to target their audience. Boman Irani featured in an ad for Ambuja Cement, where twin brothers make numerous efforts to break the wall between their homes, ending with ‘Bhaiya yeh deewar tuthti kyon nahin? is still fresh in all our memories.

Binani Cement got superstar Amitabh Bachchan on board in 2013 and the Great Khali was roped in by Ambuja Cement in 2015.

Reliance on digital

Chowdhury from Dalmia Bharat Group pointed out, “Digital as a medium allows us to continuously engage with the TG, educating them about product features and our services which are the most important tasks we aim to achieve through this medium.”

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Ambuja Cement’s recent digital video “Chhat features a tale communicated with beautiful poetry written by Gulzar. The brand further invited people to interact by using #ChhatPeMilteHain in the comments share their special story. The video has crossed more than 2 million views in since its release.

We wonder what’s next!