N. Shatrujeet

Chlor-mint: Ending those stupid questions

The new advertising for breath-freshener brand Chlor-mint attempts to shake off consumer fatigue by making consumer irritation a part of the ad

The general consensus is that the humour in Chlor-mint's old advertising was somewhat of a drag. That the snappy-answers-to-stupid-questions format left much to be desired… primarily because the communication lacked the spunky wit the format demands. Leave aside wit, the mindless exchanges between the protagonists in Chlor-mint ads had ceased to be funny, meandering as they were in the realm of poor jokes.

Sample this:

‘Yaar, hum aaj Chlor-mint kyon khaa rahen hain?'

‘Kyonki beeta hua kal beet chuka hai. Aur aane waala kal abhi aaya nahin hai. Is liye.'


To be fair on Chlor-mint, perhaps there was a time when the communication did stand out and get noticed by the brand's core audience - teenagers and young adults in the 15-to-25 bracket. Lopsided non-linear humour does appeal to the youth, however ‘mindless' it might otherwise seem. However, with the humour quotient dipping perceptibly with the passing of every Chlor-mint ad, it was a matter of time before something gave.

Eventually, market research called the bluff. "It is true that consumers were getting tired of the tone of the old communication, and that it lacked ‘energy'," admits AK Dhingra, director, sales & marketing, Perfetti India. "Initially, the ads were well received by the audience, but fatigue had set in. Market research indicated that the earlier communication was lacking in energy and needed to be refreshed, although it communicated the brand benefits (proprietary ingredient Herbasol's breath-freshening properties) quite effectively."

Hence, the new ad for Chlor-mint, created by McCann-Erickson India. A man at a roadside paan shop is handed a Chlor-mint in lieu of change. He innocently pops the ‘hum Chlor-mint kyon khaate hain?' question to the paanwaala. The paanwaala furiously grabs the man's head and dunks it into a bucket of water. As the flummoxed customer gasps his way out of the bucket, the voiceover chastises: ‘Sab ko pata hai Chlor-mint mein hai Herbasol, jo saason ko de taazgi. Dobarah mat poochhna.'

"The brief to McCann was to create advertising that appeals to small and marginal shop-keepers, and consumers alike," says Dhingra. "Advertising which is able to cut through the clutter and is entertaining, while retaining the brand communication intact."

Explaining the idea behind the new commercial, Prasoon Joshi, national creative director, McCann-Erickson India, says, "Our task was to energize the advertising. The old communication was very laid-back and passive. Consumer feedback showed that the lazy tone of the ad didn't mirror the go-getting attitude of today's youth. Also, there was a mismatch between the passive tone of the communication and the product's attribute - energy and freshness. So, all in all, consumers were getting a bit irritated with the communication. What we did was take that irritation and put it right into the ad. Everyone knows why we eat Chlor-mint - because it has Herbasol and is a great breath-freshener. So when this guy asks the paanwaala the question, the paanwaala gets irritated."

Interestingly, Chlor-mint has never been sold purely on the basis of Herbasol's breath-freshening qualities for the simple reason that doing so would suggest therapeutic value. "While Herbasol is the selling platform, it was never supposed to be the hero in the advertising," says Joshi. "The element of fun is always the hero in Chlor-mint advertising. And we have brought that fun right back in a bizarre manner."

While on the one hand the ad talks to the target audience, on the other it is aimed at "creating empathy with small and marginal shops". Understandable, considering trade push is often critical at the point of purchase. After all, at the retail level, Chlor-mint competes with a whole range of products - from quasi-breath-fresheners such as saunf-ilaichi-misri mixes, pan masaala and even throat lozenges such as Halls to direct rivals such as Clorets (Warner-Lambert), Mentos, Polo, Chilly (Nutrine) and Mint-O (ITC).

According to ORG estimates for 2002, the breath-freshener market is pegged at 3,300 tons, valued at around Rs 53 crore, and growing at about 25 per cent. However, according to Perfetti's estimates, "the market size is around 7,000 tons, valued at around Rs 110 crore." Nestle's Polo is the market leader, followed by Chlor-mint. Incidentally, Chlor-mint and Clorets are the only brands that have been sharply positioned as functional candies with breath-freshening properties. (Candico's now-defunct brand, After Smoke, did the same, perhaps too ‘nichely' for its own good.)

Perfetti claims that Chlor-mint "has been faring exceedingly well in the market, both in terms of volume growth and market share growth in the past five years, overtaking Clorets and Aqtimint (from JoyCo), that has since been withdrawn from the market".

Another thing that the new advertising attempts to achieve is broadening the brand's appeal. "The old communication was certainly a bit niche," says Joshi. "The humour used to appeal only to a type of consumer. What we have done is make the communication more mass."

One question - a pertinent one - is where the new communication will lead. The consumer has been told, in no uncertain terms, why we have Chlor-mint. She has been warned against popping the silly question.

So where does the advertising go from here? © 2002 agencyfaqs!