Happydent advertising journey is no less than a drama-filled Bollywood film and we take a trip down the memory lane to relive the ads and the many laughs it gave us
If the US inventor Thomas Edison is credited with inventing the light bulb, who could have imagined that centuries later the human bulb might do the exact job and enlighten spaces around. This human bulb is found in adverts by Happydent from the stable of Perfetti Van Melle who introduced the functional chewing gum category in India and took it upon itself to take ‘teeth whitening’ to another level. Happydent advertising journey stands as proof of that.
The saga of Happydent is less formal and more dramatic. The brand conceived a man who is a professional bulb due to his extra white teeth and blessed our TV screens with humor through its journey.
Birth of Happydent White
While Happydent was launched as chewing gum in the market alongside Alpenlibe by Perfetti in 1970, it only came to prominence when it got re-established in March 2001 after the merger of Perfetti and Van Melle NV. The product then included baking soda which is essential in keeping the teeth white, clean, bright and strong and was positioned as the go-to chewing gum for ‘Sparkling smiles and Fresh breath’.
Happydent, though operated in the functional and ayurvedic component filled chewing gum market, it was pitched against the multi-thousand crores chewing gum industry flourishing in India with huge marketing spends including Wrigley’s Orbit White launched in 2006.
However, the tough competition did not deter Happydent from marching ahead and presenting the ad world with happening campaigns in the coming years.
While a whole lot of us resonate chewing gums with mouth fresheners, Happydent went a step ahead and decided to not be restricted as an alternative to fresh breathe. It brought in Ayurveda and functional aesthetics and the amalgamation was reflected in the product’s benefits marketed heavily through print, radio, outdoor and television.
Happydent’s print campaigns were known to not talk about the product in a literal or direct sense. The communication in newspapers was weaved in a rather quirky avatar where the ‘whitening’ and ‘sparkling’ proponent of Happydent were communicated and executed by creative agency McCann in the form of diamond necklaces shining bright or world leaders like Mother Teresa and Mahatma Gandhiji’s smile.
The brand was then applauded for its abstract sense of product relatability and integrating them into its advertising across mediums. Reports have it that Happydent went also won the Best Advertisement Award for using the innovative idea for promoting themselves.
Putting the spotlight on ‘Happydent chewing gums are more than just mouth freshener’, the brand and the agency (McCann) ushered to weave campaigns like “Daaton Tale, Diya Jale” featuring elephants tusks as the only source of light in the dense forest while tripping on Happydent Wave (coated with a special solution that would increase the flavor of the gum).
Making of the ad of the century
Then came the invention of the human bulb. The one-minute-long TVC made people laugh to tears. The video titled ‘City Lights’ shows people employed to light up the royal palace after chewing Happydent gum.
Conceptualized in 2008, the ad was written by ad guru Prasoon Joshi and executed under his supervision. “It was immensely satisfying as a creator and also as an advertising professional, as it strengthened my belief that apart from communicating and building brands, ideas also dramatical impact hardcore sales,” shared Joshi to Economic Times.
He also thanked Sameer Suneja, now the global CEO of Perfetti, for being bold enough to let him execute this idea, which also sounded absurd to some.
The implausible dramatization of ‘whitening’ doubled the company’s recall value to 16 percent from the previous 8 percent in 2005. According to Making Trends India blog, total brand awareness scores of Happydent doubled and grew dramatically to reach the 90 percent level. Gross national volume grew by 102 percent over 2005 figures.
The icing on the cake was when in 2015 the advertisement became the only Indian work to get featured among the 20 best ads of the century by The Gunn Report and bagged two lions at Cannes – the first Indian ad film to do so.
Of Flashbulbs and Daddu Ki Amaanat
According to a Livemint, Perfetti’s brief to McCann Erickson was an Italian ad film that showed the girl-gum-teeth-date routine where the girl is chewing Happydent gum and her date turns out to be great. The agency was briefed to do something on the same lines with an Indian model. Prasoon Joshi (now Chairman McCann Erickson) was heard saying, “India is a paan-chewing country. We are not obsessed with shiny teeth.”
Joshi, however, went ahead and shot a commercial that showed a photographer using a couple of men with shiny white teeth, instead of flashbulbs, to take pictures while he was convinced that this was the way to go.
While the brand kept humor and drama constant in its advertisements, it simultaneously launched variants such as Protex Happydent preventing tooth decay, Happydent Complete and weaved communication promoting each. For instance, the Happydent Flip Pack was pegged as the ‘Light Ka Naya Switch’ against the backdrop of the moon.
The ‘Jai Roshan Baba Ki’ commercial for Happydent Complete added extra drama and masala which made it one of the key TVCs of the brand.
In 2008, Happydent joined hands with Webchutney with a brief to make an interactive video. Titled ‘Daddu Ki Amaanat’ the animated 3-minute long film made the audiences laugh and bagged several awards for the brand.
Happydent Advertising Journey – Digital Chapter
Although Happydent‘s YouTube channel is inactive from the last 7 years, the brand keeps its digital presence lively with topical posts on Facebook and Instagram, sharing secret recipes for healthy teeth with consumer videos and the benefits of its variants across.
Happydent’s Instagram feed is as bright and sparkling as the brand’s claims of extra shining teeth with a mixture of animated and into the moment posts and creatives.
Adding a dash of influencer marketing too…
When some considered it cool to chew gum in public and a few considered it for refreshing their breath, Happydent identified the growing concerns around oral care and teeth hygiene and brought to the market a product encompassing it all. Happydent advertising journey managed to communicate this brand proposition rather aptly.