Interview: The making of brand Vicks with #TouchOfCare

vicks one in a million

Country Marketing Manager, Vicks India, Ritu Mittal, and Maithreyi Jagannathan, Regional Associate Brand Director, P&G HealthCare, Asia speak at length about what it took to launch the second leg of Vicks #TouchOfCare.

In the second edition of Vick’s ‘Touch Of Care’ campaign titled ‘One In a Million’ the brand through a digital video showcases the transformation of Nisha a young girl who has Ichthyosis, a genetic skin condition due to the love and care provided by her adoptive parents and spreads the idea that ‘Every Child Deserves the touch of Care’.

Created by Publicis Singapore, the story is a first-person narrative by Nisha and gracefully captures her story as she sails through the challenges and complexities of life, with her mother and a family at her side.  It beautifully depicts how Nisha, who is an extraordinary girl, leads an ordinary, regular life – one of hopes, dreams, and challenges – and how Aloma has brought her up in a way that is no different from anyone else.

In conversation with Social Samosa, Maithreyi Jagannathan, Regional Associate Brand Director, P&G HealthCare, Asia and Ritu Mittal, Country Marketing Manager, Vicks India reveal what went behind coming up with a second #TouchOfCare campaign, cause-based advertising, challenges to make a perfect brand fit, and the route ahead.

Was the idea of ‘Touch Of Care’ campaign turning into a series developed earlier or was it an outcome of the excellent response enjoyed by the previous campaign?

The objective of the film is to drive the equity and make it beyond a cough and cold brand. People should think of you not just when they are sick but also on an ongoing basis. So that’s how it all started. The agency presented the idea and in the first meeting itself, which happens very rarely in the industry. At that point in time, the thought was – let’ see how it performs. The fact that it became really successful is what drove us to make it a year-round campaign and even in other countries like the Philippines.

‘One in a Million’ director Anand Gandhi has done an excellent job with this. The briefing was very similar to the last time. We gave them the plot but the entire execution part and ideation was done by Anand. He and Ajay (Publicis) went to Aloma’s place, spent some time there – it’s not something we put it up- all are real-life events.

We do feel that it is an extremely strong platform and the path that we have chosen is to bring true stories to life. We would definitely love to continue this journey into the coming years. We are learning our way through it as we speak.

The video crossed 16 million views on Youtube in a  week’s time.

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How did you decide on to tell Nisha’s story?

Once we hear a story, at the gut level, the first reaction is that of a powerful reaction. And also a lot of it depends on how they plan to bring it to live and that’s where Publicis plays a very big role. They were looking for a lot of stories, but adoption of a disabled child is one which we felt was more provocative and we have the similar impact that we had with Gauri.

Last year as well we started with digital but as the campaign was liked by millions of people, we did TV, there is a lot of elements of print as well- national plus regional coverage. 

While looking at brands associating with causes, do you feel that audience sometimes loses the brand quotient in it?

When you start you have that question in mind. But as we did the first campaign, some of the responses that we saw were great; even celebs like Vidya Balan spoke about it. That gave us the confidence; you really don’t have to be loud as a brand, even if you are subtle but if the message is right, the brand will come across. It was a learning.

Also Read: Vicks Launches #TouchOfCare Campaign in the Philippines

It is a creative canvas but you will still do your functional advertising. We are very choiceful and clear on each of our products. I can’t interlink them. For eg: a campaign like this might not work in a 15-second format. You need a long video for the consumer to understand the entire thought and idea. 

What are the fundamentals of data-driven storytelling?

So far we have a method or a data-driven way of qualifying short campaign formats. For long-format,  we are learning our way to test it out.

I don’t think there is a similar data-driven approach for long-format as it is to more functional advertising. Maybe in the times to come we’ll come up with something but there’s still some part of qualitative research that goes into it which is around understanding what emotions work with consumers. You also draw a lot of learning from the other works happening in the industry to understand what works, what doesn’t work, you try to weave in a lot of expertise.

You need to be smart about it to use mediums like digital, probably content that is truly remarkable, doesn’t need that many dollars for sharing with people, the power of the content itself is gonna help spread it. Nobody’ll share functional advertising on social media, but thousands and millions will share powerful content. That’s the role people play in sharing positive content. It’s a mix of the virality of the content and the dollars that you spend in an effective manner based on keeping in mind the length of the content and where your consumer is watching it and sharing it.

Do you think as an individual, or as a marketer, or as a brand, is it always necessary to get associated with a cause and put out a point?

It starts with the brand objective, it has to be linked in the core to the challenge you have, depending on the business challenge, you can work around what is the right way to do it.

What’s Vicks digital marketing strategy like and what pie of the overall marketing mix does digital occupy?

We don’t really think of it as it is my digital strategy or my TV strategy. The way we approach it as a brand to reach more and more consumers – be it with our functional or content based advertising. Depending on the target consumer segment, we choose the medium and then we put in the money to drive reach on the platform. 

While there is no particular metric to measure the success of a campaign on digital, is it only the shares and likes that we take into consideration?

I would not say so much likes and comments, but shareability matters stating how many people you have been able to reach. Word of mouth that it spreads, it helps you understand whether it is working or not. 

In some of the markets we have seen that your awareness about the brand on top of consumer’s mind has increased, some of the equity measures have moved, so we do keep that learning to see it works year on year and that happened in some cases for us.

How do you try and ensure the shareability transforms into sales?

As I go back to the brand challenge, how do you elevate the brand equity, make it a loved brand? Once they know your brand on top of their minds due to campaigns like these, it stays in your subconscious mind and you buy the product. Secondly, you also develop an association with the brand. While sales are important, I don’t know while doing this we don’t have any expectations. We don’t think that’s the right objective because the role of this campaign is different from the traditional functional media that we have.

Do you think it’s time to rebrand Vicks or re-invent it to communicate to the Gen-Z audience?

The formulation for Vicks vaporub has been changed in the last 128 years. Minor modifications here and there, suiting for each countries- like India needs natural ingredients. You go to the P&G office in Cincinnati, you will find a jar of Vicks Vaporub from the 1890s- it still smells the same. Why change something when it is working?


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