Aishwarya Ramesh
Advertising

Colgate Total’s newest ad makes a dentist dance

Most ads for Colgate Total toothpaste are fairly formulaic – a dentist in a white coat is speaking to a concerned patient, addressing his/her dental concerns.

But Colgate Total’s newest ad makes a dentist dance.

We’re not being metaphorical. Colgate Total’s new TVC features internet sensation Dr. Milad Shadrooh, and is a play on the popular song from the 2009 Hindi film ‘3 Idiots’, ‘Aal Izz Well’.

The video also features actors Manish Paul, Pranitha Subhash and fitness trainer Yasmin Karachiwala. Over e-mail, Arvind Chintamani, vice president - marketing, Colgate-Palmolive (India) told us that as a product, Colgate Total offers more holistic oral care by protecting not just the teeth, but also tongue, cheeks and gums.

Arvind Chintamani
Arvind Chintamani

"Our new campaign highlights that 80 per cent of germs are not on your teeth. Hence, for complete oral care, you need to take care of your tongue, cheeks and gums, too. This is an important aspect of oral care that many people do not realise. To bring this often ignored aspect to people's attention, we decided to take a more entertaining route," he told us over e-mail.

The e-mail also mentioned that - "Our collaboration with Dr. Milad Shadrooh is firstly with a dentist who understands oral care well. He also helped write the lyrics that bring this song to life. The dynamic video with multiple influential public figures talks about the importance of taking care of your whole mouth – which is what Colgate Total helps you do. This is a campaign we have created together with RedFuse and Foxymoron and we will continue to take this message to people across multiple touch-points."

Over e-mail, Pratik Gupta, co-founder of Foxymoron told us – “The messaging we desired this time from a campaign point of view was very different and therefore it needed a differentiated approach. The clinical tone of the usual campaigns was more to do with daily dental routines all the way to showcasing dental issues that arise if you do not take care of your oral health.”Gupta also mentioned that the intent this time was to address ‘whole mouth health’, which tends to be far more than daily oral care routine. “The brief was simple, but the task was not. Colgate told us that for most Indians, oral health means cleaning their teeth. However, more than 80 per cent of all germs in the mouth are on one’s tongue, gums and cheeks,” he told us.

Pratik Gupta
Pratik Gupta

On working with Dr. Shadrooh, the ‘singing dentist,’ he shared an interesting anecdote – “It was meant to be. The ‘singing dentist’ approached Colgate previously for a collaboration, but there was nothing for them to collaborate on. During one of our presentations, we presented an idea to do an acapella for Colgate Total. With that idea on the table, the brand teams told us about Milad. The rest is history.”

We asked Gupta about the creative challenges faced while working on this TVC and he replied, “The fact that we were able to produce content that most have never seen come out of Colgate’s stable is testament to how much creative freedom we had. While there were guardrails, they were there mainly to ensure that the messaging through the lyrics was spot on. What was fun about the process was that we used pop colours, fun animations, choreography, catch tunes and as a collective team (brand and agency) – we had a blast doing it.”

Gupta pointed out that as far as the song choice went, they felt a little familiarity would go a long way in delivering the message. “What also helps is that the whole country knows the chorus of the song and therefore the probability of them using our messaging was higher,” he added.

Gupta also mentioned that their primary TG was a ‘metro residing, health aware, family decision maker.’

Ad Review

We spoke to Kapil Mishra, the regional creative officer from Lowe Lintas South, Bengaluru, to get his opinion on the ad. Compared to their previous advertising, Mishra terms the new ad a 'welcome move’ - "As times change, so should the ways to communicate. In this ever increasing bombardment of messages ranging from Netflix to personal loan offers, mere extended product windows won't cut ice with the current generation," he tells us.

Kapil Mishra
Kapil Mishra

Colgate Total has traditionally targeted mothers and caregivers with its ads, but Mishra agrees that the TG is different this time. "It's definitely for millennials. They have attention span deficiency and are spoilt for choice. While this is an attempt to connect with the millennials, it is still a long product window, although a singing one. The clothes have changed but the body is the same. The spirit of the message has to change too if we really want to connect with a digital generation. Because, the more digital we become, the more human we want to become…" he signs off.

Kedar Teny, the chief strategy officer at Tilt Brand Solutions is of the opinion that this work by Colgate is not something unusual. “If you look at the body of work that Colgate has done in the past, it’s been largely functional and product centric in nature. This is a big departure from their usual execution as there is a lot more vibrancy and colour and music… It looks and feels very different from what Colgate normally does. If you look at it in the measure of work that happens, it’s not something that we haven’t seen before. We’ve seen the use of music in different ways – for example, using Bollywood music to land a message. All those things have already been done – it’s new to Colgate but not new to advertising,” he explains.

Kedar Teny
Kedar Teny

We asked him who he thought the communication was aimed at and he also agreed that the TVC is geared towards a younger audience, based on the flavour and colour of execution. “It’s not the typical dentist in a white coat summarising how to keep your teeth clean. Nor are you seeing a mother and a child being addressed by a ‘white coat.’ It’s clearly trying to make the brand more appealing through its execution. The benefit of Colgate Total is known to everybody – this commercial isn’t about communicating those benefits. It’s just a very fresh execution to make the brand look and feel younger,” says Teny.

When it comes to using Dr. Milad Shadrooh, the viral singing dentist, Teny believes that there could be intent to use him as more than just an actor in the commercial – “The buzz in marketing these days is around influencer marketing. His handle, his reach will have some impact on the communication. Eventually, it will possibly gain traction and he can make inroads into India… It will serve a dual purpose that way. Rather than giving the campaign to an influencer to promote, you’re using the influencer himself in the commercial. That gives you the ability to leverage the strength of the influencer and the communication – all in one shot,’ he tells us.

We also spoke to Navonil Chatterjee, the joint president and chief strategy officer at Rediffusion – who believes that this TVC shouldn’t be over-analysed. “After the singing dentist went viral, someone here must have thought: 'We are the country's number one dental brand. Why don't we do something interesting with this guy?' This ad, to my mind, is not the result of a massively well thought-out brand strategy, but rather a one-off. Today, everyone is chasing content, and this would have been Colgate's way of trying to be cool, fun and entertaining,” he explains.

We also asked him what kind of impact it would have on Colgate’s TG. He responded by saying that he had showed the ad to four people in his agency, of which three could not recognise Shadrooh. “Despite being in advertising, they had no clue to who this guy was, forget about knowing that he is a dentist and that too one who went viral after his Ed Sheeran number! So imagine how popular he would be with Colgate's conventional TG - mothers of kids! Youngsters, on the other hand, are more likely to know about him, but I still doubt, how many…” Chatterjee ponders.

Navonil Chatterjee
Navonil Chatterjee

The obvious question of ‘why rope in the singing dentist?’ then comes up and Chatterjee takes a dig at the ad’s execution in his answer - “For most of India, he would perhaps be the 'Fourth Idiot' in this new rendition of 'All is (not) Well'! He will be relevant only to those limited few who have heard about him. For the majority of India, he will just be another model or character in the ad, nothing more, nothing less! He doesn't even come across as a dentist in the execution!”

“Overall this communication seems to be trying too hard to be funny, entertaining and cool, and while you will definitely listen to it for some time, it clearly lacks soul…” he says, signing off.

Aalap Desai, an executive creative director at Dentsu Webchutney pointed out that when Colgate used the ‘serious dentist’ route, it was a trendsetter at the time. “They cashed in on the perception for a really long time. And, it made complete sense because research proved that it gave them an edge over other brands. It was great till it lasted. The consumer today is much informed and exposed. They know that a dentist is an actor and the approach no longer commands the equity it used to. That’s where influencers come into the picture. I think as a brand, it is a brave step but it is a little too late. Music videos with influencers is a little yesterday, today,” he told us.

Aalap Desai
Aalap Desai

While discussing the TG, Desai mentioned that millennials and the Gen Z are the ones who have the exposure to understand the influencers used and have the attitude to spend on something that is perceived as cool. “Unfortunately, a small-town Indian housewives still struggle on that front. So clearly, the traditional mother has not been targeted. However, they have tried to give the video a contemporary feel with the messaging being extremely hard working. That’s making the video play a little too safe…” he opined.

“Every brand has a category and that category commands the influencers they choose to associate with. For Colgate “The Singing Dentist” is the perfect association for such a brave transition. Instead of dentists, they have cool dentists now,” he signs off.