Abid Hussain Barlaskar

"The ad was not created for winning creative awards": Rasna's Piruz Khambatta

We spoke to the brand's chairman and MD about the inclusion of the new Rasna malt-based beverages - Honey Vita and Badam Vita, under the fruity Rasna name.

The mention of the brand Rasna draws imagery of children playing followed by a mom stepping in with glasses of a cold, colourful drink on a tray. That's all thanks to the several decades of Rasna advertising. However, those images fell apart when we saw the latest commercials for Rasna Honey Vita, a malt-based beverage from the brand's Nature Haat line of products that also includes Badam Vita and Rasna Honey.

"The ad was not created for winning creative awards": Rasna's Piruz Khambatta

Saina Nehwal with Piruz Khambatta

Instead of a jug of the cold beverage from the old ads and the famous tagline - I love you Rasna - this ad features a seemingly weak child engaged in a sport, observed by a worried mom and a sport-star (Saina Nehwal). Nehwal turns coach-cum-expert educating the mother about the health benefits of Rasna's new drink against the child's daily dose of a "chocolaty drink". This ad format has been the tried-and-tested, age-old category formula and done to death by brands like Boost, Milo etc.

"The ad was not created for winning creative awards": Rasna's Piruz Khambatta

Rasna Honey Vita ad film

With Honey Vita and Badam Vita, Rasna forayed into the Rs 7,873 crore (as per Euromonitor International) nutrition drink market in India. Reportedly, Horlicks currently dominates the market.

"The ad was not created for winning creative awards": Rasna's Piruz Khambatta

Rasna Native Haat Pure Honey TVC

The brand is set to launch more "nature-based" products under the Rasna Nature Haat line and is eyeing the mass premium space. The products are available in most modern trade venues and available in SKUs (Stock Keeping Unit) of 18g, 100g (75g+25g Free), 600g (450g+150g Free), and 500g.

"The ad was not created for winning creative awards": Rasna's Piruz Khambatta

I love you Rasna

The 18g unit is targeted at smaller cities and towns while the 100g is for all tiers, the 500g for modern trade, and 600g for standalone and retail stores.

The new product line has been in the market for a few months and is set to see more "healthy" inclusions.

We spoke to Piruz Khambatta, chairman and managing director of Rasna, about the ad and marketing communication of Honey Vita.

When you say against a "chocolaty drink", are you rivalling the category?

I would rather say that there are gaps in the health and wellness space and people are getting away from the brown beverages because mothers are concerned about the high concentration of sugar. Our honey-based option is more than welcome and fulfils a consumer need. It was launched based on insights and research and not just what the competition is up to.

But why rock the Rasna boat? The identity has been built over the last few decades...

An ad has to do justice to the product and its concept. We are not trying to copy our own or a competitor's ads. We had a product with honey and wanted the celebrity endorser to say that the honey-based option is better than a sugar-based option. That was the intent. The core idea is 'don't take the sugary, chocolaty drink, take Honey Vita'.

So, what about the original Rasna identity?

But that is what we want to beat. The idea was to create imagery other than Rasna from the marketing point of view.

You could have created another brand...

It is a Rasna sub-brand. We only wanted to borrow certain aspects from Rasna and apart from that, it would have to stand on its own feet. You can have a core brand identity. For Rasna, it is value for money, family, get-togethers, large servings, parties etc. And we have Rasna Fruit Plus, a fruitier variant with vitamins etc. which is similar but has a different USP. Then we have Native Haat Honey Vita where Rasna is like a mother brand, but Honey Vita is new a product by itself.

But the ads seem so formulaic and almost resemble another Boost ad with the mix of health, sports, a celeb, a mother, and a child...

I agree and there is nothing new, but the ad was not created for any creative award. It is only the celebrity endorsing the honey-based alternative to the sugar-based drinks.

"The ad was not created for winning creative awards": Rasna's Piruz Khambatta

Boost ad featuring Virat Kohli

We didn't see many ads post the launch...

We are looking at a very gradual launch. Unlike Amazon and Flipkart, we do not have deep pockets. I never understood that way of marketing - when you put out ads before the product is available. Forget the internet; many FMCGs do that. They spend 200 per cent of the turnover on ads, a very good idea if you have pots full of money. We are taking it slow with GECs, cartoon channels and social media. The Press is also important when it comes to new launches.

Expert opinion:

"The ad was not created for winning creative awards": Rasna's Piruz Khambatta

Jagdeep Kapoor

Jagdeep Kapoor, CMD, Samsika Marketing Consultants, opines that Rasna is a drink loved by people as a fun, tasty, orange drink. "Moving it into a serious health drink space raises questions about 'source credibility'," he states.

"With a brand name like Rasna - does it fit? The brand Rasna is a great offering, in its fun orange drink genre. Shifting from that platform to a serious core value is a risk of dilution of the mother brand's personality," Kapoor adds.

"When the consumer is confused, the brand is refused. The match between the mother brand's personality and the sub-brand's proposition is unlikely. Also, credibility is more important than celebrity," he signs off.

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