Rashmi Menon

Lary Spray: Poking pun

The brand, which soothes throat irritation, takes a dig at existing players in a daring way. The digital leg of the campaign will be rolled out in a few weeks.

In advertising, one of the sure shot ways for a brand to grab attention to itself is by taking a dig at the market leaders. And, this is the strategy Mumbai-based Medley Pharmaceuticals seems to have taken. In a bid to create buzz around its very first OTC (over the counter) product, Lary Spray, the television campaign has cleverly twisted the competitors' names to make its statement.

Lary Spray: Poking pun
Lary Spray: Poking pun
Lary Spray: Poking pun
Lary Spray: Poking pun
Lary Spray is used to combat inflamed larynx (voice box), which causes hoarse or raspy voice. As the name suggests, it is in spray format, which makes it stand out from the large, established players.

The television campaign, which has been conceptualised by Enormous, comprises two films - Lary Spray Man and Lary Spray Woman. In Lary Spray Man, the video shows a man taking a flavoured, medicinal tablet wrapped in a blue packet to soothe the irritation in his throat. The video then goes slow motion, to show the person, eyes closed, savouring the tablet, as that would give him comfort from the irritation. However, this does not solve the protagonist's problem. That's when a voiceover says, "Yeh slow motion action sirf filmo mein achcha lagta hai." It then takes a clever dig at Vicks, which is masqueraded by the words "weak si goli".

But why not focus on the new application format? Khazanchi admits that though there could have been many approaches, the brand has a big product benefit (the three-second effect) to draw from. Going forward, the brand will have to become more specific. "We don't need to layer customers' thoughts right now with product format. This will come later, where the brand will have to get into specific usages of the product in its customer's life. It will have to find ways to relate to the customers," Khazanchi avers.

He adds, when inhalers came in to counter balms, delivery of product was so good, you didn't have to layer it with mobility or other add on benefits of the product.

In fact, Medley Pharmaceuticals, which has been in existence for the past four decades, drew the insights for the campaign from its market research.

Says Sujay Naik, director, Zephyr Consulting Services (ZCS), on behalf of Medley Pharmaceuticals, that when people are suffering from sore throat, they look for a quick relief from pain and discomfort. And, some of the common problems that working people shared during consumer research was that it affected their performance during meetings, they could not talk to clients and, in some extreme cases, they also lost business! The irritation also made them "snappy" with family and friends, something which they didn't like.

"People are looking for fast relief. But the kind of products that people use for relief does not necessarily provide quick relief. They usually have a time lag in effectiveness. We wanted to address this in our communication, considering we have a unique formulation that provides almost instant relief," Naik explains.

Talking about the unique format (spray), Naik says that research indicated that if the product delivers a certain benefit in a format that exists in a market, talking about it being dramatically different in delivery is not easy to believe. "So, in that sense, the format change helps us. The format, in turn, also contributes to the effective delivery of the benefit," he says, adding that the challenge was to show consumers how to use it as people might be hesitant to try it.

ZCS is a marketing strategy consulting company that manages marketing and branding aspects of Medley Pharmaceutical's OTC division, which was set up about three years ago. It did consumer research over a course of six weeks in the North and West regions of the country, as Naik says, "Our assumption was that prevalence of sore throat would be much higher in these regions."

However, he is quick to note that people from other parts of the country too are afflicted with sore throat and throat irritation and use various relief methods.

Novel venture

Lary Spray is the first major OTC product from Medley Pharmaceuticals. The company, which has been in existence for four decades, is rated as one of the top 40 pharmaceutical companies in the country. Medley was earlier operating in the clinical pharma space; however, taking note of the opportunity in the OTC segment, the company ventured into it.

"The OTC space is rapidly expanding owing to the fact that consumers are getting more educated about what they are consuming. Many other companies are also doing work in this area. The philosophy that Medley has adopted is to come out with innovative products and formats and not do 'me too' stuff," says Naik.

While Lary Spray's usage is universal, for brand communication purpose, the core target audience has been defined as the age group 20-40, with emphasis on younger consumers as, Naik believes, the chances of their trying out a new product are higher and they experiment more. Considering the OTC division is in nascent stage, the brand will focus on large urban areas - metros and Tier 1 cities.

Besides TV, the digital leg of the campaign will be started later this month. In fact, on TV, the films are being aired on Colors, Aaj Tak and ABP News. The reason the brand has chosen news channels, Naik explains, is because being a new product, it wants to build frequency by enticing people into trying new stuff.

Sparse effect

Lary Spray: Poking pun
Lary Spray: Poking pun
Lary Spray: Poking pun
Mythili Chandrasekar, senior vice-president and executive planning director, JWT India, says that the campaign belongs to the genre of advertising that says "let's put the task in the ad". "While 'buy me instead of' is very clear, the pleasant dramatisation of competition's usage to the viewer is confusing as it is being picked up as quite complimentary. This, combined with lack of a reason to believe how this brand does what it does, doesn't clinch it fully," she believes.

Chandrasekar, however, is open to the possibility that the brand might answer "where does my expertise come from?" question in the next phase of campaign.

"If that's done, the brand will be in a better place, even if the better known brands offered this new format," she notes.

Saurabh Uboweja, CEO and director, brand strategy, Brands of Desire, feels that the tactic of taking a dig at existing players may be effective in garnering short term market share due to the innovation in format but the format is not irreplaceable. "If Vicks or Honitus was to launch a spray, they would cannibalise Lary Spray easily due to their existing brand equities," he says.

According to him, the challenge in pharma or OTC products is not necessarily the format of delivery but the performance of the drug or OTC product, which is a key determinant in why a consumer would buy it in the first place. "Lary Spray, like any other pharma solution, needs to focus on product innovation and then powerful and simple messaging to support it. Unfortunately, there has hardly been any innovation on products in this space, which makes it difficult for any player to outdo a competitor with a larger market share," he observes.

For Rajeev Sharma, national brand planning director, Leo Burnett, the ad won't help break the ice with people suffering from throat irritation looking for relief. "In the real world, you need a sharp relevant insight into what people think, feel or do when they have a troublesome, nagging or persistent throat problem. You need empathy and, the most successful OTC brands have gotten where they are by communicating just that. In a nutshell, a unique, own-able point of empathy drives the perception of efficacy. It gives you much needed credibility, particularly for a new brand, which this brand misses out," he opines.

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