Fairever hitches a ride on mobile theatre groups in the Northeast

By Sangeeta Tanwar , afaqs!, New Delhi | In Advertising | August 28, 2008
The fairness cream is being promoted by weaving its brand name into the narrative of 'jatra' tales

FMCG player & #BANNER1 & # CavinKare has taken to the oldest tradition of storytelling, 'jatra', to promote its fairness cream brand, Fairever, in Assam and the other states of the Northeast.

'Jatra' is one of the oldest art forms in India. It is a popular folk storytelling tradition in West Bengal, in which troupes of travelling artistes stage plays in different villages.

CavinKare has tied up with Bardoichila, one of the mobile theatre groups of Nalbari, Assam, whereby the brand, Fairever, is incorporated in the plays staged by the group.

Soumik Chakraborty
Soumik Chakraborty, marketing manager, CavinKare, tells afaqs!, "The Northeast is a difficult terrain, so the media to reach the consumers in these areas are limited. But the reach and popularity of the 'jatra' tradition is very strong, so this traditional folk medium becomes the best choice for speaking directly to the consumers."

The Northeast, today, is an important market for FMCG brands, especially for personal care products. Chakraborty points out that a product such as a fairness cream has more appeal in areas where, due to cultural differences, consumer emphasis is more on skin care products. So, the Northeast is a potentially expandable market for a brand such as Fairever.

According to Chakraborty, the brand integration in the 'jatra' tales happens in three phases. In the first phase, the members of a particular theatre group go from house to house, informing people about the theme and date of the play. In this phase, they also collect monetary contributions from each household as consent in principle of supporting and attending the planned 'jatra' acts.

In the second phase, members of the theatre group take another round of the village, reminding people of the approaching plays. The last phase is the day when the play is being enacted and the brand name finds a mention in the narrative of the staged plays.

The play...Heart is broken unknowingly
In all three phases, promotional material in terms of leaflets, brochures, posters and other printed material are distributed amongst the villagers. The mobile van carrying the 'jatra' actors is also branded. On the day of the performance, the stage and 'pandal' sport product branding. To spread the word about the 'jatra' play, cobranded hoardings with Fairever and details of the theatre group and play are put up all over the place. Sachets of Fairever are distributed amongst the villagers in all three phases.

Traditionally, the 'jatra' story sessions begin in June-July and continue through the whole of September. The theatre groups conclude their performances by staging the last play in March-April of the following year.

Commenting on the frequency of plays staged in a given period of time, Chakraborty explains, "Every theatre group has its itinerary charted out in advance, depending upon the number of people or villages agreeing to participate in a given 'jatra' play. On an average per week, a group could be staging two to three plays in a village or a combined play in a week for a gathering of 1,000-1,500 visitors, hailing from five to six small villages."

Huge gatherings for the 'jatra' plays provide CavinKare a ready audience - people who can be directly involved and engaged with the brand, unlike, say, the TV medium, which proves to be a one way communication platform. The theatre groups staging plays are a great medium to familiarise people with the brand, by increasing the visibility of the brand.

Chakraborty clarifies that the positioning of the brand remains the same. Fairever is pitched as a natural fairness cream, with Kashmir saffron being its main ingredient. The communication message has been localised for the Northeast by using the local language or dialect of the place where the plays are to be staged. Currently, the Northeast accounts for 10 per cent of the market for Fairever.

"Last year, too, we experimented with theatre as a medium for reaching out to people in the remotest parts of the Northeastern states, but that was an exercise done in patches. This time, to gauge the full potential of the medium, we have made a conscious attempt to reach out to all the possible areas by increasing our participation in a large number of villages. Also, there can be no comparison in terms of the medium being cost effective as compared to other media because, apart from these mobile theatre groups, there is no other platform available to communicate directly with the target group," says Chakraborty.

At the same time, he admits that Northeast India is covered as part of the national advertising campaign, comprising TV and print. But the local and traditionally popular tradition of 'jatra' acts as an effective supplement for reaching out to a larger number of people in a terrain that is difficult to access.

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