From solving the 'embarrassing' acidity issues in just seconds to giving us ads to remember for decades, the ENO advertising journey in India deserves to be told.
“Ohho ye acidity, Kuch toh dedo bhai...” we have been hearing these monologues in ads for years now and it doesn’t even take us 6 seconds to recognize them as ENO’s advertisements. In less than two years from now, ENO will hit a half-century in the Indian market. ENO advertising journey has harped on the functional benefits of the product and positioning it as the enabler of ‘no rukawat’ wali life. We take a U-turn to relive the brand journey of ENO India.
The ENO Story
“A world of woes is avoided by those who keep and use ENO’s Fruit Salt; therefore no family should ever be without it,” – said J.C. ENO, Health Advocate, Philosopher, Writer, Inventor of ENO.
The inception of ENO Fruit salt dates back to more than 150 years ago in 1850 at a little pharmacy in Britain’s Newcastle, where James Crossley Eno developed an idea to improve the health of people by helping them deal with the digestive problems. History has it that, inspired by sailors who often ate in excess upon return to port, James was determined to create a simple solution that could work in harmony with the body’s natural processes to relieve every kind of symptom caused by acid indigestion.
Fun Fact: The idea for ENO was conceived while James worked at the pharmacy with Dennis Embleton; Embleton often prescribed an effervescent drink made by mixing sodium bicarbonate and citric acid in the water, and Eno adopted this beverage.
He further also demonstrated the usage of the product while introducing it to the mass market. Explaining that acid reflux, commonly known as acidity caused when stomach acid is produced in excess. This is where ENO can help. ENO’s ingredients dissolve quickly to create an effervescent solution that neutralizes stomach acid on contact.
In 1938 - Beecham Group Ltd. (now part of GlaxoSmithKline) acquired ENO’s Proprietaries Ltd. Later in 1989, SmithKline US merged with The Beecham company and gave birth to SmithKline Beecham. ENO was advertised heavily under the SB SmithKline Beecham banner. 1995 saw the merger of Glaxo Smith and Wellcome. The company was formed as GlaxoSmithKline Consumer Healthcare Inc in 2000. This is when ENO came under the GSK umbrella.
ENO Advertising Journey
ENO's international marketing stint was purely based on selling it as the healthgiver focussed towards sailors looking for a solution to keep them healthy on long journeys. Rather than adopting a functional approach, the vintage newspaper ad copies consisted of moral and philosophical lessons wrapped in poetic verses or literary quotations, which was in fact considered absurd to market an antacid that cured indigestion and stomach illness.
A 1947 ad in Indian newspapers conceptualized by JWT (now Wunderman Thompson) for ENO Fruit Salt said - Eno knows no race, no flag, no boundaries – it extends to all peoples, so great is its fame as a healthgiver.
ENO Branding Tales - India Chapter
ENO is a 100-year-old global brand with a presence in more than 40 countries. It ventured in India around 1972. According to the company, ENO has been the market leader as a result of the brand's single-minded focus on 'fast relief from acidity'. We can still recall iconic lines from mid-90s ads like ‘ENO on, acidity gone’ as well as the more recent science-backed claim of ‘ENO gets to work in 6 seconds.’
When asked to narrate the brand journey so far, Vijay Sharma, Area Marketing Lead, OTC, and expert marketing ISC, GSK Consumer Healthcare accentuates that ENO has been synonymous with the antacid's category and it’s biggest strength lies in its efficacy. “We been trying to dial that up through innovative marketing campaigns,” he adds.
Over the years, ENO evolved its communication from being led by a functional benefit to a life benefit. Sharma informs that the brand now focuses on the importance of uninterrupted life and ENO's role as the enabler.
The 'ENO on, Acidity gone', 'The Beaker Test', 'Ho Jaaye Laddoo', 'Welcome Back To Life', ENO Mela, ENO Train, and 'Senapati' ads are some of the few memorable campaigns done by the brand over the years.
Acid indigestion? Heartburn? Discomfort after meals? Stomach issues? ENO has positioned itself as the remedy for all such discomfort which were considered a closed-door apathy. During 1995-96, through English copies in TVCs, ENO’s much popular tagline ‘ENO on, Acidity Gone’ communicated that it not a matter of worry as long as you have ENO along with you.
The brand played a smart bet making its ‘relief in just seconds’ proposition stronger and generated a high recall value among the masses. In 1998-99, the ad copies were prominently written in Hindi to make them more relatable and understandable. Hindi entertainment actors, mainly men, were featured in the TVCs enacting a monologue and cribbing about their present condition and acidity woes.
Just when ENO enters to solve the problems with the tagline- ENO bulbule, de azaadi jhat se (ENO Bubbles, Set you free...instantly).
Later in 2000-01, Eno ads became more inclusive of female characters and addressed the issues faced by both housewives and working women.
“Being a part of a cluttered market, the brand has always strived to stay differentiated from competitors by creating many sticky assets and moments that not only resonate with the consumers but are also exclusively associated with ENO,” shares Sharma.
Over the years, ENO has transformed the 'burp', an otherwise embarrassing moment into a light-hearted 'sign of relief' from acidity. ENO's iconic burp is backed by a strong claim that ENO 'Gets to work in 6 seconds'; something that has become synonymous to ENO’s core promise.
ENO ka kaam shuru sirf 6 seconds me (ENO gets to work in just 6 seconds) is touted to be one of the most recalled ad taglines in Indian advertising history wherein the brand tackled a serious and considered ‘embarrassing’ discomfort in a fun manner inducing laughter through its ads over the years.
In 2010, ENO associated with the movie, Yamla Pagla Deewana, featuring the three Deols (Dharmendra, Sunny, and Bobby) with an aim of the alliance to capture the Northern and Western Indian markets. As part of the deal, a co-branded TVC was created to create a direct correlation between the brand and quick relief from acidity, many times causes by overeating at wedding functions. The campaign was conceptualized and executed by Blue Bang Media and Entertainment.
During 2012, the Rs 750-crore-plus Indian branded antacid market was broadly split into three between Eno, Dabur's Pudin Hara, and liquids such as Digene and Gelusil, where ENO claimed a 35% share.
Moving to 2013, ENO advertising journey shifted focus on the younger audience to make them a part of its TG which by far were tilted towards an age group of 30-35 year olds. The company’s research revealed that a larger section of the youth is also a potential target base with the increasing incidents of gastric problems among this demographic.
Considering the insight and in a bid to lure the youth to fill the need gap, ENO rolled out cola flavor supported by a TVC which positioned ENO cola as the ‘Sahi’ cola (royal cola). To justify the new launch, GSK claimed that it was a result of consumer insight that said one in four consumers prefer cola-based carbonated soft drinks to treat acidity. The Cola flavor joined ENO’s fruit-flavored portfolio that includes variants such as orange, musambi, pineapple, and guava. The ads were conceptualized under Ogilvy’s creative leadership.
It should be noted that in 1991, GSK tried a marketing stint while differentiating itself from the competition and had re-launched relaunched ENO in a refreshing lemon variant which was followed by the introduction of flavors like pudina to connect with the Indian consumer.
Jayant Singh, then Marketing Director at GlaxoSmithKline Consumer Healthcare (GSKCH, was quoted saying “For years acidity in India has been treated through home-made remedies where ingredients like orange, pudina, musambi, and lemon, that are perceived to have strong digestive qualities, have played an important role. Keeping this in mind, GSK has developed these flavors for Eno that would appeal to the Indian consumer.”
For the simple variant which was also the most consumed, Boman Irani was roped in to feature in TVCs as the turbaned Punjabi while the other variants imbibed animations to convey the messaging.
In the later years, ENO came up with ‘6 symptoms- 1 solution’ phenomenon to drive the brand salience and maintain its position in the antacid category. 6
ENO also participated in festive marketing with narratives woven around EID with #FeastMubarak, Ganesh Chaturthi #MoreYeah, and Durga Pujo.
Although stats might suggest that ENO is consumed mostly by the male counterpart, women too have found an unexpected benefit in the product. It is bought by many women essentially as a mixture of sodium bicarbonate and sodium carbonate, in the making of fermented batter for delicacies such as idli, dhokla, sponge cake, even cookies.
Cut to 2020, staying at home amidst the lockdown is resulted in increased snacking and experimentation with food, coupled with untimely meals and reduced physical activity- leading to higher chances of acidity. ENO captured these moments to build a contextually relevant digital campaign, presenting itself as a reliable ally in lockdown.
Going Behind The Scenes
When asked to share some anecdotes from the ENO advertising journey, Sharma notes that being a light-hearted brand, ENO ads have always been full of life, and shooting these ads have been equally exciting.
“One of the most critical shots to achieve is the ENO burp! Not only do we audition actors to evaluate how well they burp naturally, but we also take multiple takes of the burp to ensure it perfectly fits the bill,” he adds.
One such example is when the team was shooting the Senapati ad, that had the tagline- “Why wait for liquids to work when ENO gets to work in 6 seconds” “The many stakeholders couldn't agree on the perfect burp shot and the actor ended up taking that shot 15 times!” recalls Sharma.
The feeling has been mutual for the brand’s current creative agency Grey (Agency on record). An agency spokesperson shares, “Usually when we shoot the avatars it is a long process of shooting. The individual characters and the expressions. But with our protagonist at the Mela (With ENO, enjoy the fete of life without worrying about the 6 symptoms of acidity) we had a great actor who really brought each avatar to life. From the occasion to the symptom he did a great job and in not more than 5 takes."
For the Train ad film, it was a great feeling for the agency team to literally own a train and a train station. Getting to direct it to come and go for the shoot was an amazing experience for Grey.
ENO has been around for decades. It has seen generations come and go. As per the agency, what is truly fascinating is how the brand is always reinventing its persona. It started as a product that relieved acidity and years later, it still does that. But it’s language of telling that story has evolved. With people and times, brand ENO has always known what to say and how to say it.
ENO Advertising Journey - Digital Play
With 40 tweets, 26 videos on its official YouTube channel, 68 Instagram posts, and 43k likes on Facebook, ENO India has been attending social media trends like a regular student. The brand is constantly keeping an eye out on new formats and weaving them in its visuals while keeping the green and white bubble filed background intact in all its creatives.
The strategy has very well worked in favor of the brand as ENO has been recognized as a ‘pun’ filled social media brand.
“In the last few years, we have upped the ante on digital, while we are 'always-on' on Google search, with a single-minded objective of building consideration with the “active sufferer”. We have also started to explore video platforms (OTT and YouTube) to drive consideration by being contextually relevant and continue to build a love for the brand,” highlights Sharma.
Taking the current WFH cue and food experiments done on a larger scale, ENO recently captured these moments to build the #WhatARelief campaign, centered around occasions like working from home, reduced physical activity, change in eating habits, and food experiments.
The most recent phase of the campaign in the ENO advertising journey was launched in partnership with Google, understanding the rise in recipe searches over the Internet. The ENO advertisement is served as a dynamic creative, customized basis the recipe searched and plays as a 6-second pre-roll before the recipe video.
Sharma concludes, “The predominant idea remains simple, we want people to enjoy their culinary experiments without having to worry about any intermission that may happen on account of acidity, as their reliable ally ENO is always there to take care of it.”