Shreyas Kulkarni

Can one ointment do the job of Burnol, Soframycin, Boroplus, Ring Guard?

In its first ad Cipladine is positioned as a solution for cuts, burns, bruises, skin infections. Will a single cream be trusted to perform four specialised functions?

Everybody likes a ‘Jack of All Trades’. Take your workplace for instance; do more than what’s written on your job description or do a bit of social media marketing, graphic design, and code when you’re a copywriter – you’re a rockstar.

But, does the same love extend to an antiseptic ointment that claims to be a solution for cuts, wounds, burns and skin infections?

We are talking about Cipla’s Cipladine. The Indian multinational pharmaceutical company released an ad for this antiseptic ointment, a first. Conceptualised by Taproot Dentsu, the 35-second ad shows how this ointment has multiple effective uses and one doesn’t have to depend on different creams.

Gauri Chaudhari, co-founder, Innerworld, a healthcare brand consultancy says that while some bits of the ad may appear over the top, “it is precisely what will work for the category because attention-grabbing is hard sometimes with big FMCG brands shouting all the time.”

She explained most pharmaceutical ads either go the “white coat” way where a doctor states why this product is good and it’s a bit preachy. On the other hand, the ads feature celebrities like Anil Kapoor and Ranveer Singh for Mankind Pharma’s 'Health Ok'. She remarked that Cipla choose neither route and went straight to capture the viewer’s attention.

Shivam Puri, CEO, Cipla Health Ltd. said, “Cipladine’s first-ever TVC portrays its usefulness in busy Indian households. With its gentle albeit effective results, Cipladine has become a trustworthy companion in homes, clinics, dispensaries and hospitals for combating skin infections. A topical application, Cipladine’s scientifically backed formula makes it an ideal choice to treat skin issues in both adults and children.

“Moreover, it has emerged as a trusted solution to a broad range of skin infections arising from day to day injuries or infections and can rightly be called ‘Skin Ka 1st Aid.’ The ad showcases the versatility of the product and is an enjoyable watch.”

Pallavi Chakravarti, ECD, Taproot Dentsu stated, “Skin infections arising from multiple types of everyday injuries have one solution – Cipladine. We wanted to land this simple message with a commercial that people will want to watch multiple times. Hopefully, they’ll find something new about the spot each time they see it. And the message will hit home every single time.”

Specialist versus generalist

While Cipladine touts effectiveness against multiple issues, we (afaqs!) wondered aren't specific solutions more credible and how does it compete against others.

“I see it competing against similar all-in-one OTC antiseptic products (for every day, minor health/ medical issues) like Boroline, Boroplus and Himalaya antiseptic creams,” says Siddhartha Dutt, Strategic Planning Head, MRM // McCann Worldgroup Thailand (ex-Planning Head, McCann Health India).

He went on to say the main benefits that Cipladine is advertising are convenience (the all-in-one OTC antiseptic for minor cuts, wounds, burns and infections) and its antiseptic (first aid) power.

“Specific solutions are credible for health problems but mainly when they are serious enough. E.g. a minor skin rash might go away with an application of an OTC product like Cipladine but a more serious skin infection might require a more specialised Rx (doctor-prescribed) medical solution,” remarked Dutt.

Chaudhari told us Cipladine’s povidone-iodine formula is a wonderful antiseptic and used in operation theatres and “people will see the positive effect on their skin.”

Entry into the Indian first-aid kit

Towards the end of the ad, the injured young lady asks her household help to bring all the creams from the first aid kit because the entire family is suffering from skin ailments. But, Cipladine is then pitched as the right alternative. It can’t be this easy to get inside the kit.

Chaudhari summed the Indian first-aid kit as a box that contains “a Band-Aid (often J&J), Dettol, cotton, and some cream” and said Cipladine will look to earn its share of the kit but its first aim is to grab the attention of the consumer.

McCann’s Dutt remarked that most of us will overstuff our medical cabinet with all sorts of lotions, ointments, balms, pills and medicines so it shouldn’t be very difficult to get an entry into the first aid kit of an Indian household.

“Also one can never discount the Covid influence here… it has taught us to be more appreciative of medicines in general and any new medical product, be it OTC or Rx,” he added.

Medicine-like packaging

Can one ointment do the job of Burnol, Soframycin, Boroplus, Ring Guard?

Take a look at the pack and you’ll see it is very medicine-like especially for a consumer product. We asked folks if it was deliberate. “For all we know, the medicine-like consumer packaging might also lend a pseudo-medical gravitas to this OTC product,” said Dutt and added that it might work to Cipla's advantage and further drive the parent company's serious medical associations and heritage in the consumer's mind.

He also pointed out that the deliberate 'medicine-like packaging could be to make “Cipladine stand out from the more generic, non-serious, non-medicine packaging cues of its competitors” like the dark green packaging of Boroline, the floral, generic skin cream packaging cues of Boroplus and the natural, herbal packaging cues of Himalaya antiseptic cream.

Who’s the TG?

We feel there are two types of consumers when it comes to OTC antiseptic ointments and creams. One, he or she will always specialised product (ex: Burnol for burns). Second, he or she doesn’t really care and is happy to buy a multi-purpose brand. Is Cipladine targeting the second consumer?

Abhik Santara, director and CEO, ^Atom network told us, “Cipladine seems to first instil confusion in consumers mind and then offer a panacea for every kind of first aid. The fact is all-in-one proposition works beautifully with the value-conscious mindset that we have… So this work seems to be in the right space. The execution could have been much better though.”

The Indian mentality leans towards multi-purpose because we still have an “Ek cheez se kaam ho jayega” mindset says Praful Akali, founder, Medulla Communications. He remarked that Cipladine will make headway into the market but it all depends on if it will deliver on its claims.

Dutt told us the brand is targeting consumers who want one no-nonsense, all-in-one/ multi-purpose antiseptic cream… They may not have much knowledge about antiseptics in general but they simply want an easy way out and an antiseptic cream that works - that's it.

He went on to remark that the ones who want a specific solution “may not choose Cipladine but these involved 'specific solution' consumers may shun the likes of Boroline, Boroplus and the rest of the competition as well. Because to them, nothing short of a specialised (and perhaps Rx/ doctor-prescribed) product will do. So Cipladine may not end up losing much from these consumers anyway since they might not buy Cipladine or any of its competitors.”

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