Brand Saga: Vicco Turmeric – before healthy became mainstream

Vicco advertising journey

Not guilty of humming the infamous Vicco jingle, the Vicco Turmeric advertising journey of six decades is no less than a force to reckon with.

Revisiting the days of yore, this is the story when India had just gotten independence from the British Raj and strongly stood as a Republic. Two years later, 1952 marked the birth of a company whose product gave us one of the best advertising jingles and found its place into our minds for ages. Vicco Turmeric advertising journey thus commenced.

Neither a Bollywood or Hollywood song, nor a poem, but a jingle – “Vicco Turmeric Nahi Cosmetic, Vicco Turmeric ayurvedic cream. Keel muhaso…” Can we stop humming to this, ever?  

This Thursday, we delve into the age-old Vicco advertising journey that redefined skincare marketing for a long time, banking on Ayurveda for commercials that went onto becoming classics.

Vicco – Making India beautiful  

Touted as India’s oldest beauty product manufacturers, Vishnu Industrial Chemical Company or VICCO was founded by KV Pendharkar in 1952. The company took birth in one of the infamous suburban Bombay chawls and later expanded production units in locals like Dombivli, Goa, and Nagpur. With a portfolio of products boasting of ayurvedic ingredients and purely natural benefits, Vicco’s Vajradanti toothpaste and powder, turmeric skin cream and sugar-free toothpaste became an instant hit among the masses.

In 1952, the first Vicco product -Vicco Vajradanti– saw the light of the day and the company was praised to successfully formulate the first Ayurvedic Toothpaste in the world with 20 rare medicinal herbs.

Identifying the need gap for a skincare product catering to women in the country, Vicco went onto launch its second product – Vicco Turmeric Ayurvedic Cream in the late 50s. Turmeric skin cream was introduced to the country when 90% of the population wasn’t aware of the significance of skincare or did not aspire to adorn a flawless and healthy skin. Vicco aimed at changing the dynamics in the skincare segment and being an early mover, attempted to redefine ‘Ayurveda’ for the common people.

From being the ubiquitous desi brand to now exporting products to about 35 international markets including the US, the UK, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, the UAE, and even Iceland, VICCO has indeed come a long way.

Vicco Turmeric advertising journey

The yellow color has been a constant on VICCO’s skin products signifying the brand’s long-standing tryst with turmeric and its benefits for flawless skin while the logo depicting antiseptic elements. The packaging also featured yesteryear TV actresses like Mrinal Kulkarni and Rakul Preet.

67 years later, Vicco has stuck with the reddish-orange tube.

This was the time when many international and homegrown personal care brands were still to foray into the Indian shores. There was a mounting pressure of zapping pimples into oblivion among the Indian Brides and women in general but the only option available was the local brand’s snow and winter creams. Vicco was quick to identify this need gap and put out a claim that their skin cream prevented the penetration of the harmful ultra-violet rays.

As per an online blog, initially, the yellow colour of the turmeric cream made people hesitant: would it leave the face yellow? This problem was surmounted by asking the salesmen to try out the cream on the retailers’ faces and showing them the results in a mirror. Vicco Turmeric advertising journey has been full of innovations.

Vicco Turmeric had found its place in young hearts who suffered from acne problems and weren’t patient enough for a long treatment. Consumers wanted quick solutions and Vicco grabbed this opportunity to build a stronghold. The 80s and 90s witnessed hundreds and thousands of Indians raving about the brand’s products ranging from Vicco Vajradanti to Vicco Narayani, and Vicco Turmeric Ayurvedic Cream.

The Magical of Jingles

Post initiating door-to-door marketing activities and outdoor coupled with print advertising, in the days of Doordarshan, Vicco set out to market the products on a larger scale and touch upon TV as a medium to do that. The 77-second commercial that went on air via Doordarshan and AIR featured Sangeeta Bijlani as the soon-to-be-bride. Bijlani exuded innocence and beauty in the TVC adding glamour to the communication.

Taking into consideration the deep-rooted Indian values and significance of occasions like marriages, Vicco joined hands with late S.S.Oberoi of Oberoi films to showcase the Shaadi aesthetics and significance of Haldi synonymous to the Haldi ceremony. The advertisement was hailed by many for its clear messaging of making age-old methods of beautifying worthy and secondly an apt concoction of culture and contemporary thoughts.

The impact of the campaign was that Bijlani had her roads paved in the world of Hindi Cinema and the sales of Vicco Turmeric grew two-fold.

Using Vicco Turmeric in haldi functions is still a household remedy and norm – one can say that their marketing worked.

Revolutionizing Product Marketing

The ad featuring Sangeeta Bijlani stayed in people’s minds for a longer time as it was telecasted just before the popular sitcom ‘Yeh Jo Hai Zindagi’- at the primetime. These days had fewer commercials playing on-screen and were also less interruptive. At a time when sponsorship of programs was new to Doordarshan, Vicco was one of the first brands to sponsor a TV serial.

As per YourStory, the feat was achieved as Gajanan Pendharkar, the Chairman of Vicco Laboratories, pioneered the idea of sponsoring television shows in India – a clever ruse that took the homegrown brand to worldwide repute.

Vicco was also among the firsts to record its advertisements in video cassettes and set up distribution channels back home and in foreign territories with an objective to expand the base.

Behind ‘Vicco Turmeric, Nahi Cosmetic’

Further research in the Vicco jingle story led us to derive the back story behind its origin. The Central Excise Department, in 1978, went onto assert that  Vicco Vajradanti and Vicco Turmeric Skin Cream were not eligible to be classified as ayurvedic medicines as claimed by the company and instead classified them as cosmetics.

Not adhering to the assertion by the department, Vicco Labs challenged this claim and filed a suit in the Civil Court. The decision by the civil judge favored Vicco while stating that both the products were ayurvedic medicinal preparations and not toothpaste or tooth powder or cosmetics” on the 6th of May, 1982.  The matter escalated further when the Excise department did deny accepting the decision and took legal actions.

But the crux of the matter is how a court battle led the company to go onto communicating and position the products as ayurvedic and not any cosmetic which was hailed as one of the smarter moves to thrive in the category.

Promoting Healthy Skin – Ayurveda on sale

Further in its communication, emphasizing the medicinal properties of turmeric as in Ayurveda, the advertising commercials said the cream is useful for health and beauty. The company aimed at promoting Vicco Turmeric Skin Cream as a combination of antiseptic properties of turmeric and the soothing and cooling effects of sandalwood oil. Apart from getting healthy and glowing skin, the advertising also depicted how it can be used medicine to cure small injuries, pimples, and burns.

Expanding its skin cream portfolio further, Vicco Turmeric Multipurpose Foam Base Cream was launched and marketed as indeed multi-purpose tube as it can be used as a shaving cream, a face wash and an antiseptic wash for burns.

Meanwhile, for Vicco Turmeric WSO Skin Cream, the company advertised focussed on the useful properties of turmeric for skincare while the omission of the costly factor of sandalwood oil had made its price affordable even for the common man.

Although Vicco Turmeric Skin cream might have lost its dominant position owing to the popularity of other players, the brand has been optimizing mediums lie television and radio to educate the society and bringing back the task around Indian herbs and their primary usage.

Recently with the launch of skin moisturizers, sunscreens, and Oil-based creams, Vicco is keeping up with the changing times but remains to be with us as the small but memorable part of our past.

Also Read: Brand Saga: Kurkure advertising journey – ‘Tedha’ yet delectable

When 60-yr old Vicco went Digital

With 5.76k YouTube subscribers, around 4k followers on Instagram and 3 lakhs on Facebook, Vicco Laboratories’ Vicco Turmeric Skin Cream presence is no new to the social media world. The brand has been constantly updating its social media profiles with regular posts and trending creatives apart from initiating online campaigns like #NoFilter on Instagram.

Leveraging the influencer marketing phenomenon, the brand roped in online influencers and Bollywood celebrities like Soha Ali Khan to take up the #NoFilter challenge in association with Big FM.

Vicco Turmeric has been a regular educator for healthy and glowing skin with short tutorial videos online while still keeping Ayurveda in the limelight creating conversations and content to keep the engagement going online.

Vicco Turmeric Skin Cream Golden Glow

This festive season get your 24 carat #goldenglowwithvicco and be the #viccogirl that you are, naturally beautiful!The ever favourite Vicco Turmeric cream is now in an all new pack to ensure all your selfies glow naturally!#Vicco #GoldenGlowWithVicco #ViccoGirl #Vegan #Turmeric #ChemicalFree #CrueltyFree #GoNatural #Antiseptic #SkinCare #FaceCream #SkinCream #Ayurveda #Ayurvedic

Posted by VICCO on Saturday, 5 October 2019

Vicco Turmeric advertising journey while pioneering the proponents of Ayurveda and natural herbs in its products, has nurtured and rejuvenated the essence of medicinal remedies and benefits in the contemporary world. Facing stiff competition from international beauty brands, Vicco Turmeric hasn’t fallen back but only grown to be a challenger and that defines the brand’s advertising and marketing saga.