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Life after Zero, sweet but not sinful

By , agencyfaqs! | In | February 08, 2005
Alembic wants to score with Zero, a zero-calorie sweetener


The introduction of zero by Aryabhatta revolutionised mathematics. Alembic hopes that its new product will do the same to the market for artificial sweeteners. & #BANNER1 & #

Zero, a zero-calorie sweetener made from sugar, marks the foray of the Rs 600-crore pharmaceuticals giant into the "lifestyle" category. The basic molecule for Zero, sucralose, is derived from sugar through a multi-step patented manufacturing process.

Zero's trump card seems to be this magic molecule and the claim that is it absolutely safe for children and diabetic people, backed by testimonials from US Food & Drug Administration (FDA), Joint FAO/WHO Expert Committee on Food Additives & the National Food Authority of Australia among others. It claims to have done away with aspartame, a key ingredient in most artificial sweeteners, which has encouraged heated debates world over for its alleged after-effects.

In spite of being a blue-blooded pharma company, Alembic seems to have a finger on the consumer pulse. Since it is being positioned more as a lifestyle product, the launch and the brand communication, including the packaging, have been touched up with some amount of gloss.

While model Katrina Kaif launched the product, Zero is being pushed with a multi-media campaign conceived by Leo Burnett, the agency on the account. The sleek packaging has been inspired by the product itself and is shaped like a zero, or like a large Polo, depending on how you look at it.

A series of three TVCs and a print campaign mark the first phase of communication. "The first phase of communication will focus on usage and consumption, the second on the benefits and the third will be all-encompassing," clarifies Geogi Zachariah, business head, Alembic OTC division.

The print ads for the launch phase take the route of the much-preferred "before and after" concepts - synonymous with slimming procedures. While the "before" shows a frontal view of the package, round and robust, the "after" simply gives a flattened out side profile of the same.

According Vikas Mehta, brand associate, Leo Burnett, "Before/after is a part of our messaging. In the launch phase, we have two sets of creatives, each playing a specific role. One set does the task of introducing the product and its usage, whereas the other talks about the category benefit of getting into shape. The before-after ads are the creative on the latter."

The TVCs too are in keeping with this concept and illustrate the before/after effects of Zero with the front and side view of the same person. Clearly, functionality is the key in Zero's communication.

Mehta agrees . "It's purely a function of what the brand needs. We had the task of launching a new brand with a distinct product proposition in a small category. The most important thing, therefore, during the time of the launch was to make sure we communicate the brand and its usage. I don't think that getting clever - only for the sake of it - anyway solves a brand issue. As our campaign progresses, the advertising would evolve accordingly. But that evolution will happen when we feel that we own sufficient mind space of our consumers."

While KV Sridhar, national creative director, and Agnello Dias, executive creative director, have been closely associated with the project, the creative team included Syed Mohd Talha, Shyam Sunder, Mohd Ajmal and James Mani.

Alembic has allocated a budget of Rs 1.7 crore for above-the-line advertising and about the same amount for below-the-line marketing initiatives for the year.

The market for artificial sweeteners in the country stands at Rs 60 crore, and has been registering a growth of 18 per cent by value. Alembic wants 10 per cent of this pie by next year. "It is a modest target, but we will invest carefully," says Zachariah. "We don't want to eat into anybody's market share, but actually want to grow the category," he says. Zero targets "pro-active health seekers" in the age group of 30-40 years in the SEC A and A plus.

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