Brand Saga: How Savlon healed 'Bharat' and drove the 'Swasth India' mission

Sneha Yadav
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Savlon advertising journey

As the country awaits to breathe a sigh of relief amidst the destructive second wave, we take a trip down the memory lane with the Savlon advertising journey reminiscing the brand’s marketing initiatives to heal the wounds and nurture a human bond.

The antiseptic liquid, Savlon took birth on foreign land under ICI (Imperial Chemical Industries) several decades ago. On May 22, 1992 Johnson & Johnson announced that it acquired Savlon OTC brands from ICI. Cut to today, Savlon’s brand journey is a force to be reckoned with where the company went onto gain repute for effectiveness in germ protection while going head on with majors like HUL’s Lifebuoy and Dettol. As the second COVID-19 wave intensifies and the need for extra care and anti-bacterial products rise, we take a quick glance at the Savlon advertising journey which has made the brand one of the pioneers of the industry.

The Savlon Saga

ITC acquired Savlon along with Shower To Shower brands from Johnson & Johnson in India in 2015. The use of Savlon was initially to clean and disinfect skin during surgical procedures and later was utilized across the world help clean wounds caused by cuts, abrasion, burns, and insect bites.

Tale behind the ‘painless antiseptic’

After Johnson and Johnson (J&J) acquired Savlon and relaunched it in the early 90s, the company for years marketed it as an antiseptic brand that did not cause pain. While other brands focused on killing 99% germs, J&J bet big on the ‘Jyada Asar Bina Jalan’ proposition.

Thereafter it continued portraying the brand as a non-stingy option with its tagline ‘Healing without Burning’. Thus came the ‘Savlon Suraksha’ and ‘Suraksha Magar Pyaar Se’ ads.

Savlon Active hand wash was the first brand of antiseptic hand wash launched in 1998. From wet wipes to antiseptic cream shower gels and soaps to after shave lotions Savlon began expanding the product bouquet to counter stiff competition from Dettol.

Thoda Hai..thode ki zarurat hai

Savlon beauty soaps place glycerine at the core of its ingredients while this commercial is recalled due to rendition of the famous Hindi song ‘Thoda Hai Thode Ki Zarurat Hai’.

Savlon joined hands with the creative agency Lowe Lintas in its initial years of advertising – the duo then went onto work together for several years. This TVC featuring TV actor Hiten Tejwani talks about the Savlon soap specially created for treating body odour. A series of TV commercials were made to convey how along with killing germs with Savlon.

Rooting for ‘Swasth Bharat’

After aggressively positioning itself as the ‘Doctor’s Recommended Soap’, the reins of Savlon were taken over by ITC from Godrej in 2015 with an aim to create a new engine of growth in the health and hygiene product category.

In the same year, Savlon teamed up with Ogilvy Mumbai to unveil Savlon Swasth India Mission, a programme designed to encourage behavioural change towards washing hands amongst children through initiatives in schools. 

 In the same year, Savlon teamed up with Ogilvy Mumbai to unveil Savlon Swasth India Mission, a programme designed to encourage behavioural change towards washing hands amongst children through initiatives in schools. 

The brand also roped in ace shuttler Saina Nehwal as its brand ambassador in 2016 and launched a new campaign encouraging children to push their limits.

Strengthening its commitment to address the widespread issue of hand hygiene, Savlon India in November 2017 introduced Savlon ID Guard. An ID card is an integral part of a school kid’s daily routine. It was redesigned with a multi-use hand wash sachet of soap to fit into the ubiquitous ID card that children all over the country wear to school.

Also Read: Inside: ‘Chain of Protection’ by Savlon & it’s impact

In May 2019, Saina Nehwal was replaced by Boman Irani as the new brand ambassador for Savlon’s hygiene portfolio. The announcement was followed by the roll out of new campaign ‘Do the Germ Fu’ inspired by martial arts, an exciting new way to teach kids a new way of washing hands while having fun.

With an objective of sensitising students on the need for an eco-friendly life while becoming community advocates to help segregate waste at source into dry and wet, Savlon advertising journey introduced ‘Swachchata Ka Gullak’ in September 2019, a community initiative led by school children.

Cut to 2020-21 – Protection from COVID-19

With growing concerns around the #CoronaVirus, Savlon did its part by releasing a short video on some important things to remember while taking precautions against the deadly virus with the tagline #SurakshaAapkeHaathMein.  

The company in June 2020, also launched a new television commercial for the Savlon Surface Disinfectant Spray to amplify the awareness about the product.

Later the brand introduced multi-purpose Germ Protection Wipes to address hygiene and personal care concerns. With convenience at its core, Savlon Germ Protection Wipes sought to augment the category of wet wipes to offer a solution to help provide 99.9 percent germ protection.

In October 2020, Ogilvy India and ITC Savlon launched Savlon Swasth India Mission’s #NoHandUnwashed initiative. The campaign featuring Swapna Augustine, a foot artist from the Mouth and Foot Painters (MFPA) Association, narrates her inspirational story and blends it perfectly with one of the most unique portrayals of handwashing and its importance.

Currently, the brand is aggressively pushing its objective to #BeatTheSecondWave with the help of its products like disinfectant spray, savlon antiseptic disinfectant liquid, wet wipes, and more.

The brand is also harnessing the power of social media to disseminate information around the various steps to be undertaken in order to prevent the spread of viruses and mainly to 'stay safe' in these times of crisis.

To read a detailed saga about the Savlon advertising journey, click here.

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