N. Shatrujeet

Droll Bachchan furthers Hajmola's 'anytime digestive' proposition

A new four-commercial television campaign for Hajmola features Dabur ambassador Amitabh Bachchan at his comic best

A schoolboy ambles down a wooded back road on his way home. To kill time, he idly pulls a bottle of Hajmola out of his bag, opens it and shakes out a tablet. He is about to pop the tablet into his mouth when he senses somebody whispering a hushed ‘Hajmola!' from the hedge bordering the road. His attention arrested, the boy pauses, turns and stares.

His curiosity is rewarded when a trouser-clad leg breaks into view. Moments later, the owner of the leg (Amitabh Bachchan) emerges from the hedge and steps onto the middle of the deserted road in what appears to be a dance step. Taken aback, the kid stares. Seeing he has an audience, Bachchan executes a series of dance steps to impress the boy. But all he manages to elicit is a yawn or two. Unmindfully, Bachchan keeps at his shuffle. Finally, with a grand flourish, he comes to a stop in front of the boy, anticipating applause.

Visibly bored out of his skull, the boy stares Bachchan in the eye. ‘Bakwaas dance ko hazm karo,' he drawls, pops in the Hajmola tablet, and walks off. His enthusiasm quickly peeling off, Bachchan stares after the boy, then turns to walk the other way, smarting with disappointment.

Just then, a familiar score strikes up in the background. Bachchan turns to see the boy executing the very steps he himself had so recently deemed unworthy of attention and credit. As the boy boogies down the road, Bachchan smirks dismissively and pulls out a bottle of Hajmola from his pocket. Shaking out a tablet, Bachchan shakes his head. ‘Bakwaas copy ko hazm karo,' he returns the snub, pops the tablet, and walks away. ‘Hajmola. Hazm sab. Chaahe jab,' says the signoff.

Thus goes one of the new Hajmola commercials featuring Dabur ambassador Amitabh Bachchan, a commercial that is part of a four-ad television campaign that is scheduled to break later this evening. The other three commercials - built around popular Hindi tongue twisters such as ‘Nandu ke nana', ‘Tola Ram' and ‘Khadak Singh ke khadakne se' - also feature Bachchan and the boy in games of one-upmanship, each trying to bully the other into submission. For instance, when Bachchan stumbles on ‘Tola Ram', the boy offers him Hajmola, saying, ‘Haar hazm karo.' And when Bachchan finally gets it right, he triumphantly gives the kid Hajmola, adding, ‘Jeet hazm karo.'

Bakwaas copy hazm karo. Haar hazm karo. Jeet hazm karo. Bin-bulaaye mehmaan hazm karo. (The last one is from a nice little twist in the third ad in the tongue twister series.) The idea clearly is to reinforce Hajmola's positioning as a mild ‘anytime, anywhere digestive', and comprehensively delink it from what might be called ‘pure digestive-digestive territory'.

It's in keeping with the strategy that Hajmola has been pursuing for some time now. After all, Hajmola has always kept a distance from the ‘therapeutic' aspects of being a digestive, and even its early communication (best remembered for the ‘school dormitory' ad from the early nineties) projected a fun-and-mischief brand personality. However, it was with the Kapil Dev-endorsed commercial from 1995 - the one where the cricketer overhears a boy bragging about having hit Kapil for a six - that Hajmola moved one step forward by pitching itself as an ‘anytime, anywhere digestive'. Remember an incredulous Kapil saying, ‘Yeh baat kuch hazm nahin hui'? The critical word there was ‘baat', and the playground scenario took the brand out-of-doors for the first time.

‘Baat' has now been extended to ‘haar', ‘jeet' and ‘bin-bulaaye mehmaan'. And the communication has been made more fun. "Hajmola has always been positioned as a mild digestive, and its unique chatpata taste has also had a role to play in the naughty, mischievous image that the brand has been associated with over time," observes Devendra Garg, vice-president (marketing), Dabur India. "Hajmola, in its current campaign, has tried a different creative expression of its ‘digestive' functional benefit by taking it beyond digestion - bakwaas dance bhi hazm, bakwaas copy bhi hazm et cetera - while maintaining its fun-filled, mischievous image. The new campaign reflects the overall language of the brand in a fun-filled, naughty and mischievous manner, and is aimed towards all age groups between six and 60 years."

Taking Hajmola beyond the confines of functional benefits and plugging it into the wider space of ‘fun' and ‘find-an-excuse-to-consume' is rooted in a need to increase incidence of consumption. Launched in the early seventies, Hajmola, Dabur claims, has witnessed "substantial growth", and as per ORG figures for Jan-Dec 2003, has a market share of 70 per cent (in the Rs 90-crore branded digestive category, consisting of tablets and churans). The company adds that the brand Hajmola (which includes candy, churan and tablets) is one of the power brands of Dabur, with a turnover of over Rs 100 crore. "The brand enjoys strong brand equity in the consumer's mind for its chatpata taste that appeals to consumers across age groups," says Garg.

Explaining how the agency arrived at the idea for the new campaign, Balki (R Balakrishnan), executive creative director, Lowe, says, "The client was clear that the communication would not overtly focus on the therapeutic attributes of the brand. The brand had to come across fun and entertaining without missing out on the digestive proposition. The creative thought that we struck upon was that there are lots of things that one has to digest in life, irrespective of whether they are good or bad, encouraging or disappointing. The communication thought was about digesting the ups and downs of life and being carefree, and the idea was to say this in as entertaining a way as possible."

It helped enormously knowing brand spokesperson Bachchan was to feature in the communication. "Bachchan was a given, and I am happy for that, as it is always a joy writing scripts for him," smiles Balki. "When you know you are writing for Bachchan, you write things that bring out the best in him - which is humour and satire. That's what we did with the Hajmola scripts, and he loved them the moment we showed them to him. And he simply got into the character of this man competing with the kid and let himself go. It was a treat."

It is a treat, simply watching Bachchan perform. The look on his face when he smirks at the kid's copy of his dance, the pleased-as-punch grin when he outwits the kid… it's sheer magic, best left to be viewed on television. Suffice it to say that Bachchan lifts a decent campaign a good many notches with his endless repertoire and deft sense of comic timing. © 2004 agencyfaqs!