Aishwarya Ramesh

Dhara’s new ad prompts awkward conversations at meal-time

Created by DDB Mudra Group, the ad prompts familial bonding over healthy home-cooked meals.

One of the biggest parenting challenges is talking to a teenager going through growing pains. Indian cooking oil brand Dhara is trying to prompt such conversations in its latest campaign. It recently released a campaign, titled #KhaanePeKehna, which focuses on meal-time conversations.

“Over the last 2-3 years, we’ve seen how our lives have changed. These small changes in our life affect us differently. It’s our attempt to change consumer habits and cope with the changing environment,” says Manish Bandlish, managing director, Mother Dairy Fruit & Vegetable, Dhara’s parent company.

Bandlish reveals that when the company was doing consumer research, one of the findings was that the ease of conversations between the younger and older generation has dropped, making these conversations more difficult.

“It impacts families and the way they communicate with each other. Also, keep in mind that families themselves have become smaller and the environment they live in has changed too.”

The month-long campaign includes an over one-minute TVC. According to a press release, the campaign will also run on print, radio, OOH and OTT platforms.

“Various platforms have their own content strategies and operate differently. Our TG is present on these content platforms. We cater to the audience present on these channels so that we can stay relevant without shifting away from our basic communication objective. We don’t want to deviate too much from our main message of #KhaanePeKehna,” says Bandlish.

The campaign will build on the brand’s overall proposition of ‘Zara Sa Badlaav’ (which roughly translates to ‘a little bit of change’). The campaign has been conceptualised by Dhara Edible Oils and executed by DDB Mudra North, along with Wavemaker.

Iraj Fraz Batla, creative head - DDB Mudra Group, tells us that Dhara is one of the oldest Indian food brands. It has been around for more than 30 years.

Iraj Fraz Batla
Iraj Fraz Batla

“Dhara has been partners with Mudra, and now DDB Mudra, all this while. So essentially, the briefs are collaborative in nature. This year, we wanted to give a fresh dimension to the platform that the brand has had, which is ‘Zara Sa Badlaav’. Dhara is the enabler of healthy food and relationships. The whole struggle/search for Dhara is the space between the two,” adds Batla.

Bandlish mentions that this is a largely digital campaign. The company is not opting for TV for this campaign because it has its own market priorities and isn’t looking for a national perspective on ads right now. 

He explains that the challenges the company faced this year were related to inflation, not marketing, per se.

“The last 5-6 months have been stable, with the exception of the first two months of the year, when we were under renewed threat of another COVID wave. From a consumer point of view, people have renewed energy and the consumption has been good in the first quarter, for the overall Mother Dairy brand, and not just Dhara.”

Manish Bandlish
Manish Bandlish

“The last year has been turbulent and most companies in the edible oil category, faced challenges related to budgets available for advertising spends. Turbulent in the sense, we’ve been dealing with inflation and the market has seen lots of sharp ups and downs. There’s been many cycles in this industry. When you have such sharp up and down cycles, there are many peaks and troughs, and the overall rhythm of the market gets disrupted, which also affects your profitability at times.”

Bandlish mentions that the campaign targets men and women in the 25-45 age bracket, since these are the people who are more likely to be building their lives and households. The ad also uses the ‘Dhara Dhara Shudh Dhara’ jingle, which is also featured in many of the brand’s communication.

“The generation before them hasn’t reached that stage yet, and the generation after them, the 35-55 year olds, are likely to have children. Sec A and B is likely to be our audience for this campaign.”

Batla mentions that the team had many conversations over meals. That led them to the realisation that many barriers are broken when people have conversations over tasty food.

“This was where we got the insight for the campaign - that food plays a strong role in helping people connect and build relationships.”

The release also mentions that Dhara Edible Oils had rolled out its positioning of ‘Zara Sa Badlaav’ in FY18-19. Subsequent campaigns, under the ambit, carried the essence of encouraging people to bring in small changes for larger benefits.

The brand, in 2021, further extended it to ‘Rishton Ki Sehat’, which manifested the importance of looking after the general well-being of one’s family by adopting good health practices.

Bandlish also mentions that during the COVID period, home cooking and consumption of food at home went up.

“Eating out, as a phenomenon, went down because of non-availability, and other concerns related to health and immunity. The consumer now is back with a bang. The major change to consumer behaviour has come from the purchase perspective. Customers are now opting for digital and e-commerce purchases because of the convenience factor.”

In terms of distribution, Bandlish adds that general trade still rules the roost for the brand, but quick commerce is also growing fast.

“Not just Dhara, but for all Mother Dairy products, quick commerce has grown dramatically as a distribution channel for us. Otherwise, e-commerce, as a distribution channel, is equal to the physical commerce stores in which we are present.”

Dhara was also the brand responsible for one of India's most iconic ads, featuring a runaway 5 year old boy and the promise of piping hot jalebis. Take a little trip down memory lane below.

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