Shreyas Kulkarni

Cadbury Bournvita’s 'Forced Packs' tears open a raging conversation

Adland: A novel idea. Thought-provoking. Circumspect Timing. A decade too late.

Bruce Wayne donned the terrifying Batman persona to shake Gotham city’s citizens out of their apathy and terrorise its criminal underworld. Meanwhile, Cadbury Bournvita, nothing as menacing as the caped crusader, is trying to shock parents out of their stupor by dressing up everyday goods in its skin.

Turning the Cadbury Bournvita jar into items like a toilet cleaner bottle, an egg carton, a tissue paper box, a glass cleaner spray, a ketchup bottle, a soap box, and a cooking oil bottle, the brand and its creative agency Ogilvy uses this force-fit as an analogy for parents forcing their kids into select professions than nourishing their potential.

When consumers pick up one of these products, available at select Star Bazaar stores and the brand’s D2C site, a message on the packs says kids will turn out similar to these strange Cadbury Bournvita packs if they “are forced against their natural potential.”

“Success in our country is defined by profession than potential,” states Akshay Seth, executive creative director, Ogilvy.  He says the agency used this very insight to question itself “how can we make this into a daily reminder for parents and can this be something that goes beyond them seeing it on their phone or on social media?”

“What better way than when you serve your kids Cadbury Bournvita every day and you get a daily reminder?” he answers his question.

Seeing the ad made afaqs! wonder if Cadbury Bournvita had partnered with FMCG brands for this campaign. It did not. The brand made these products in their factories and Seth says “it was more about taking the brand into categories where the packaging clearly defines it's not made for this than getting into which brand should Cadbury Bournvita partner with because it would add a layer which we thought unnecessary.”

Consumers will find Rs 5 sachets of Cadbury Bournvita inside these forced packs. Why? Because the items’ outer moulds resemble societal expectations of what profession a kid should pursue and the little ones’ lack of agency. At the same time, the true potential of children and Cadbury Bournvita, which the consumer wishes to buy, stay hidden inside desperate to see the light of day.

“We did not want it to be a gimmick, it needs to be a reminder, you've taken the sachet out and the item is like a limited-edition keepsake which parents will keep,” says Seth and reveals this campaign idea was pitched to Cadbury Bournvita in the first quarter of this year and was approved in a single shot.

The 'Forced Packs' rounds up a trio of Cadbury Bournvita campaigns on the challenges students face after its The Exam Collection campaign of 2019 and 2016’s Badam Booster. A divergence from its physical activity fuelled Aadatein spots under the larger Tayyari Jeet Ki positioning.

Old wine beverage in a new bottle?

Nourishing a child’s true potential and not grooming them into something else is not the newest idea on the block. One is taken back a decade to stationery brand Classmate’s ad on kids being the first themselves than being called the “next Kishore Kumar” because he is a good singer or the next Einstein. After all, she excels in science.

“Great idea. Unfortunately, the discussion will be distracted by the execution instead of it being on the idea itself,” says Karan Kumar, group chief marketing and growth officer, ART Fertility Clinics on Cadbury Bournvita’s new work; he was a marketer with Classmate when the ad ran on Indian television screens.

Campaigns need to have very strong legs to deliver impact, says Kumar and he stresses the need to “engage in on-ground conversations with relevant stakeholders and not just do a TVC and thinking that it will carry all the load and do the heavy hitting.”

If this is not done the campaign, as per Kumar, will be “just one creative gust of wind which will deliver on some vanity metrics but not deliver on the actual change you seek.”

Cadbury Bournvita’s 'Forced Packs' tears open a raging conversation

Media agency Wavemaker, for Forced Packs, will execute print activations, partnerships with leading social media platforms, and influencer engagement.

The other thing is that while execution is important to cut the creative clutter, reminds the former Classmate marketer, “it shouldn't be so wacky that the execution itself hogs all the limelight and the core idea doesn't get discussed as much as it should be.”

ITC Classmate's share, six months after its ad released, was over one-fourth of India's stationery/notebook category.

10 years too late?

People online have questioned the timing of the ad calling it circumspect. “As a brand, you should have figured it out 10 years back that it was prevalent you have to become an engineer or a doctor, not anymore,” remarks Samir Datar, chief strategy officer, Crayons Advertising. “We as parents have progressed and are allowing our children the freedom to choose what they want to do with their lives.”

“Why couldn't you do this when the class 12 results come out? Because in India, that is when the kids' futures are decided. That is the timing for such a campaign,” he stresses.

He reveals he is a fan of the product which has over the years shown the mother sitting on the sideline clapping the boy do well to become part of his preparation. As a brand, it was a major shift in how the mother's role has become integral. “How can that brand be living in the past?”

On the other hand, “the ad timing is brilliant - Children’s Day” remarks Sanjeev Kotnala, brand and marketing consultant, Intradia World. He, however, adds it smells of once in a year-preachy approach, which is a no-no.

“One can appreciate the intent, and the thought is nice. The ad maybe is not to my liking,” says Kotnala.  

He feels it is non-inclusive because the packs are accessible “only to parents who can afford Cadbury Bournvita, who buy it at Star Bazaar and only think of making their children take the seven identified education and later the jobs?”

Hard to decipher

Kotnala had an issue with the print ad too because his first reaction to #FaithNotForce was about child labour. “The AV on YouTube does a better job of clarifying the concept and the intent. However, the press ad lacks impact.”

#FaithNotForce is shouting for appreciation. However, the brand lacks the complete conviction to scale it up. It is more of #NoFaithOnlyForce, states the brand and marketing consultant.

“The brand has finally bitten the bait of finding a purpose but is unsure,” he adds. “Otherwise, a project like this for impact more than press ads and jar re-shaping needs ground-level efforts. There is no reference to them. Maybe and hopefully, they are there.”

The good and the bad

This campaign, however, has its share of laurels too. YouTube comments praise the idea while we are told many have shared the idea with their drivers and maids to massify the campaign.

“I’m sure thousands of parents are going to go around looking for the new jars while of course having chatter with children at home,” writes Dr Kushal Sanghvi, India and SEA head, CitrusAd (a retail media platform for sponsored product ads, banners and email ads) on LinkedIn.

This marketing is out of the Pack and is definitely going to be getting all the awards at the advertising festivals for the creative thought and thought-provoking nature while it celebrates every child’s unique qualities, states Dr Sanghvi in his post.

Naresh Gupta, on the other hand, feels this campaign was designed keeping the awards season in mind. He is the co-founder and chief strategy officer of Bang in the Middle, an advertising agency.

“Cadbury Bournvita feels parents should let kids decide what they want to do, it’s a nice purpose to have. Then change the entire brand. Get away from the intense pressure you create about winning, that needs to change,” he states.

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