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Amul Paneer: Giving 'Paneer Power' a humorous twist

By Ashwini Gangal , afaqs!, Mumbai | In Advertising | September 29, 2010
Taking forward its usual tactic of humour, Amul Paneer rolls out a new ad campaign that speaks about kids' health

The only national brand of 'paneer' or cottage cheese, Amul Paneer has rolled out a new ad campaign that positions the product as a rich source of protein, and thereby, the perfect ingredient in the recipe for good health. This long-term campaign broke around a month back and is slated to extend well beyond six months.

While the target group for the campaign is primarily mothers, care was taken to keep the commercials child-friendly as well. This was done to address the common perception that if something is recommended as healthy, kids find it tasteless and try to avoid it.

Amul Paneer was launched nationally around eight years back, which was also when the first brand campaign was broken. The last ad campaign, before the current one, was rolled out two years ago. In the interim period, 'paneer' was featured in Amul's 'Taste of india' campaigns.

The current campaign draws on the insight that children in India generally resist drinking milk, thereby denying themselves much-needed protein, which is vital for overall growth and development. Moreover, they gravitate towards junk food, which is not high on nutrition. This tends to compound the problems faced by mothers, who struggle to get their children to drink milk.

Furthermore, the campaign benefited from research, which revealed that mothers would prefer their children eating paneer-based snacks, as compared to junk food, for two main reasons. First, the reality that paneer is healthy; and second, the fact that paneer consumption makes up for milk deficiency in the child. The present communication, thus, attempts to put forth paneer as a replacement for milk.

Based on these insights, Draftfcb Ulka has created two commercials for the brand. One is set in a shopping mall, while the other is set in a waiting room. To drive home the point of health, both the commercials feature three characters: a mother, her son and an emaciated man. The latter gets knocked down at the slightest touch, because protein deficiency has made him very weak.

In the first film, the child is visibly worried on seeing the thin man fall as his shopping cart touches his rear. Similarly, in the second film, the man gets pushed back and forth along a bench due to the gust of air from a fan. The child's mother then warns the child that not eating Amul Paneer everyday would lead to poor health for him too, and he would become like the weak man. Scared of this prospect, the kid regards the benefits of paneer in a new light.

The communication aims to make mothers instantly connect to this relatable portrayal of both the problem (their child's poor health in the days ahead) and its solution (Amul Paneer).

The films have been created by Haresh Moorjani and Dharmesh Shah, and directed by Nikhil Rao of Chrome Pictures.

The creative brief given to the agency was to convey the message that paneer is the richest source of protein, especially for vegetarians.

KS Chakravarthy aka Chax, national creative director, Draftfcb Ulka says, "We have always used humour very successfully to sell Amul Paneer. The new commercials push the envelope further, with exaggerated stories of how the child will grow up if he doesn't eat Amul Paneer everyday. Casting was thus critical. This is probably the beginning of a long and successful series."

TV is the lead medium for this campaign, followed by press and PoS (point of sales) branding.

Does the campaign have power?

While industry experts appreciate the positioning, they insist that the creative route could have been better.

KV Sridhar, aka Pops, national creative director, Leo Burnett India, is of the opinion that the client had the right marketing strategy and idea; but the advertising strategy went very wrong. He finds the creativity of the ad films poor and the humour not at all in good taste.

"The thinking and strategy seem to be fine, as paneer is a value-added milk product that yields good returns for the client; but the creative is bad. It looks like a 1970s attempt at humour!" Pops complains.

He goes on, "There is confusion regarding the TG -- moms or kids -- and this confused targeting is apparent in the TVCs. The ad is not convincing for either of these two TGs. They could have painted eating paneer as something fun, as against drinking milk. Maybe this confusion has resulted in such poor creativity."

He adds on a related note that Dabur has done a far better job with honey -- also something kids shun in the face of jam -- than Amul has done with paneer.

Raj Nair, regional creative director, Mumbai and South, Contract Advertising thinks that the message, "paneer equals protein equals strength" is clear, simple and focused. However, he feels that the execution lacks finesse.

"Why the same scrawny geek in both commercials? Couldn't the exaggeration have been pushed further to make the creatives stand out more? Plus, I think the idea gets a bit confusing in the supermarket execution, because when I first saw the spot, I thought it's the kid's strength that knocks the guy over. In the waiting room execution, it's clearer, because the guy flies off the moment the fan is turned towards him," he specifies.

Nair adds that he is not entirely sure that moms, who are at their wits' end trying to make sure that their kids get proper nutrition, will find this humour acceptable. "If they do, then it's definitely a big change in attitude," Nair reasons.

He continues, "Humour, if well used, can be an incredibly sharp weapon. But I'm willing to hazard that even if mothers will see the lighter side of life, they may identify with the brand much more if they were told a truth that's impossible to ignore. That's not happening in this case."

He concludes that in this category, a brand has to forge a really deep connection, in order for a consumer to pick it out of the plethora of choices that are available today on supermarket shelves. "Will this execution do that? Perhaps the jury is still out on this," Nair signs off.

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