N. Shatrujeet

Tata Salt expands 'purity' proposition with Desh Ka Namak campaign

Tata Salt has unrolled a new positioning idea with a campaign that showcases small acts of honesty and integrity that link back to the idiomatic usage of the word ‘salt’

‘Maine desh ka namak khaaya hai.' Even in this day and age of mercenary materialism and unmitigated cynicism, these simple words have an earthy appeal that goes straight to the heart. For cached in this phrase lie all those old-world sentiments of honesty, integrity and loyalty - not to mention patriotism - that stir the soul. And it is this aspect of patriotism that salt brand Tata Salt has relevantly touched upon in its latest advertising campaign (created in sync with the brand's new positioning line of ‘Desh Ka Namak' by Bates India), unveiled in mass media to coincide with Independence Day.

What is heartening about the Tata Salt campaign is that in terms of execution, it has steered clear of the ‘drum-roll and Tricolour' trap. Instead of doing the predictable wearing-your-patriotism-on-your-sleeve routine, the campaign celebrates the ‘everyday' nature of patriotism, highlighting small deeds of selflessness that reflect a respect for the Greater Good. In the process, the campaign rises from being solely about Indianness to being about good citizens.

A brief look at the campaign - which consists of one ‘montage film' and six ‘extract films' - will explain the point. The ads essentially draw from the integrity of the man-in-the-street to showcase noble acts of duty that easily get taken for granted. So, for instance, there is this lady doctor who, at the end of a tiring day, decides to see that ‘one more patient' - even though it's well past her consultation time. Then the railway linesman who, sheltering under an umbrella to keep out the torrential rains, methodically checks every nut, bolt and plate on a railway track (he even turns down an invitation to warmth and tea from a colleague, as he goes about his job). Or the elderly taxi driver who graciously turns down a ‘reward' from a passenger who, while alighting from the cab, had left her cell phone behind (which the driver has subsequently returned). Or the traffic policeman who sternly declines a bribe from the driver of a car he has pulled up for some offense. One telling shot has a passerby taking the extra effort to shut a ‘leaky' roadside tap…

The lyrics in the background score form an anthem that brings the idea to life. ‘De de, de de, khud ko de de, desh ke naam pe de/Farz apna tu nibha le, poore jee-jaan se de/Katra-katra desh ke kaam aayega/Jitna tu dega, tujhko phir se yeh mil jaayega/De de, de de, khud ko de de, desh ko vaada de/Yaad rahe, namak desh ka khaaya hai…'

The interesting thing about the campaign is that at no point does the advertising explicitly say that the Rs 160-crore brand is the ‘desh ka namak' - that is only implied. For instance, even the voiceover at the end of the commercials merely says: ‘Aisa kharaa namak jiska kharaapan desh ke karodon logon mein chhalakta hai.'

However, the brand is able to carry off the non-verbalized claim of ‘desh ka namak' by virtue of being the market leader in the 5.2-million-tonnes per annum Indian salt market, with a 17 per cent market share. And if one were to take the branded salt market alone (at 1.5 million tonnes per annum), Tata Salt has an even more respectable 37 per cent market share, stretching a lead over rivals Annapurna, Captain Cook and Dandi. Incidentally, there are some 115 national and local brands currently jostling in the Indian market, a function of the extremely low barrier-to-entry this industry offers.

Looking at it, Tata Salt's new positioning is a means of reinforcing that leadership position in the quest for new consumers. Reasons are not hard to find. The overall salt market in India has been stagnating for some time now (beyond a point, you can't get the population to consume more salt, and there is no such thing as a ‘non-salt-consuming' consumer whom you can hope to convert), and growth has been a mere 1 per cent. However, the branded salt category has been growing at a healthier pace (4 per cent), which means that consumers are migrating from the non-branded category.

"Consumers have begun to recognize the benefits of branded salt," reveals Kapil Mehan, vice-president - sales & marketing, Tata Chemicals. "Being the market leader, we want to grow the market by enhancing market and mindshare." Obviously, Tata Salt realizes that there's nothing like a strong ‘leadership claim' to meet this end.

The essence of the Desh Ka Namak campaign seems to be bolstering mindshare. That explains the manner in which the advertising taps the "broader and more fundamental aspects associated with salt", as Mehan puts it. "The new paradigm is to bust clutter using an emotional platform, instead of focusing purely on the functional properties of salt, which has been the traditional approach of marketers."

In the past, Tata Salt too had played upon the rational ‘purity' aspect of its offering - purity which it linked to the ‘vacuum evaporated technique' of packaging and the ‘saltiest salt' claim of the brand. However, it's not as if with the new campaign, the brand has severed all ties with the purity proposition. It has simply ‘grown' purity to fit both the rational and the emotional manifestations of the word. "This campaign is all about purity of thought and action, and is juxtaposed to the purity of the brand," says Rajeev Raja, executive creative director, Bates India.

The campaign idea itself stemmed from a consumer insight linked to the idiomatic usage of the word salt. "If you look at it, salt has great significance across languages," points out (JS) Mani, senior vice-president & general manager, Bates India. "You say someone is ‘worth his salt', you call someone a ‘namak halaal'. Salt represents character in human beings. We saw an inherent romance in salt that could become a campaignable idea.

"The creative idea was actually fairly simple," Raja takes up. "Salt is a very basic necessity - a little bit can change the complexion of food. Now what we did was draw a parallel to small acts of integrity and loyalty that, collectively, change the nation. And we linked it to ‘desh ka namak khaana' - something like giving a part of yourself to the nation as a form of repayment. And ‘desh ka namak' tied in with Tata Salt."

While on the topic of giving to the nation, in a related development, Tata Salt has also unveiled a Desh Ko Arpan programme. Under this programme, the company, in partnership with Child Relief and You (CRY), has promised to contribute 10 paise from every kilogram of Tata Salt sold towards uplifting the underprivileged girl child. Mehan reveals that at current sales levels, this would mean a channeling of upwards of Rs 3 lakh every month for the cause. "This is our way of providing consumers with an opportunity to contribute to a cause." © 2002 agencyfaqs!

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