Boroplus: Redefining age-old belief

By Devina Joshi , afaqs!, Mumbai | In Advertising | November 12, 2010
In a new ad campaign for Boroplus, Everest Brand Solutions makes use of the creative expression, 'Safed Teeka' to convey that the cream protects its users from dryness and other skin problems.

Emami Group's flagship multipurpose cream brand, Boroplus is in leadership mode. In a new ad campaign released for the onset of winter, the brand has attempted to move beyond functionality, and form an emotional connect with people across India.

In July 2010, Everest Brand Solutions was handed the Boroplus account with a view to position it as a multipurpose cream, trusted by many across India. Everest played on the traditional Indian belief of a 'kaala teeka' - a black dot applied on the face to ward off the evil eye, and flipped it around. The team has, in its advertising, used the Boroplus 'Safed Teeka' as a mnemonic to symbolize that the cream is the saviour that counters the havoc that winter wreaks on the skin.

Harsh Agarwal, director, Emami, reveals that the brief to Everest was to project Boroplus as a leader brand, trusted by many across age groups and SECs. "Consumers are well aware of its functionality; it was time to elevate the brand towards a stronger brand halo as a natural progression," he says.

The ad opens on the shot of actor and brand endorser, Amitabh Bachchan applying a small white dot of Boroplus on his cheek, symbolic of the Indian tradition of applying a black dot for protection against evils. One then sees Indians across all geographies and cultures -- from the deserts of Rajasthan to the cold climes of Kashmir; from the backwaters of Kerala to Mumbai roads; from Bengali households and Assamese people to Goan Christians -- applying the white Boroplus dot happily on their faces, as a sign of protection.

The ad concludes with Bachchan saying that 50 crore people in the nation apply Boroplus' 'safed teeka' or white dot to ward off the evils of winter when it comes to their skin. "Taaki sardi ki nazar na lage," concludes Bachchan.

Bachchan has been Boroplus' brand endorser for the last eight years; while actor Kareena Kapoor also endorses the brand. Commercials for Boroplus have largely been in the functional or slice-of-life space so far. Among the last few ads was one where Bachchan is a 'pundit', and talks about the cream's various benefits; while another ad had Kapoor cast in a typical wedding day girl-boy love story, where the cream helps save the day.

So, what's new?

N Padmakumar, national creative director, Everest Brand Solutions, says that the brief this time was to give Boroplus a larger-than-life imagery, by portraying how the brand is trusted by 50 crore people and is an 'iconic' one of sorts. It is to be noted that Boroplus commands a high market share in India, barring West Bengal, where Boroline is a clear market leader.

A pan-India feel was also required; hence, the cultural elements in the commercial. "We were searching for something that symbolises protection from dry skin and other problems, and protection led to the 'kaala teeka' insight -- a popular belief that is easily identifiable across markets," says Padmakumar.

As Boroplus is more popular in non-metros, particularly Tier 2 and 3 towns, such an intrinsically Indian insight ought to work, feels Padmakumar. Bachchan has been used as an icon/'sutradhar' or narrator of the brand message, who binds the ad together.

The ad has been directed by filmmaker, Raj Kumar Hirani of the 'Munnabhai...' series, and the background track is by composer, Shantanu Moitra.

While TV is the lead medium for the campaign, print and outdoor will also be leveraged. Annual media spends across all Boroplus products are pegged at Rs 30 crore, of which the cream alone commands Rs 15 crore.

Teeka-u campaign?

The campaign evokes strong responses from the ad industry. Sambit Mohanty, executive creative director, Bates 141, gives a thumbs-up to the fact that this is a departure from conventional cold cream advertising that typically depicts chapped skin or cracked heels in a social embarrassment context.

"But the catch is, Boroplus isn't a cold cream/moisturizer, and why is an antiseptic cream talking about 'Sardi ki nazar na lage'? One could argue it works for dry skin, but I feel in its eagerness to latch on to an insight -- 'safed teeka' as opposed to 'kala teeka' -- the agency has ignored the raison d'Ítre of this product," he shrugs. "Definitely an insight-brand disconnect."

On the execution end, Mohanty finds the ad is a pastiche of images better suited for a national integration anthem, and the attempt leaves him cold, no pun intended.

Narayan Devanathan, chief planning director, Euro RSCG India, feels it is easy to spot the brand getting into an emotional zone, even attempting a larger cultural connect, rather than just conveying the product's functional benefits. "But is this the right time for the brand to be doing this? Probably not," he opines.

This, because consumers have probably been there, done that -- as far as emotionally connecting with Boroplus is concerned -- a long time before the brand finally decided to show it in an ad.

"This is a brand that's been around for a really long time, and those who swear by it today have been swearing by it for at least three decades now, if not longer. What this ad is not doing -- and by extension, what Boroplus doesn't seem to be doing -- is trying to connect with current non-users," he points out, "the ones who prefer the more "new-fangled" products from hipper, more fashionable brands."

The imagery, he adds, is of old, stereotypical India. Having said that, Devanathan adds that the protection insight is generic to the category, but that the insight has been brought to life in a uniquely Indian expression makes it stand out in the category. "Again, this probably wouldn't work for most other brands that don't have the heritage of Boroplus," he allows.

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