Abid Hussain Barlaskar

Hamdard advertises Cinkara after 35 years

After targeting office going men in the early 1970s, Cinkara is now targeting multitasking super moms with a ‘breathless’ song sung by Sunidhi Chauhan.

Health tonic brand Cinkara, from the house of Hamdard, has survived in the Indian healthcare market for over three decades without any advertising. The last TV ad campaign for Cinkara was run in 1985, and featured a young Javed Jaffrey as a busy professional.

The brand just rolled out ‘Breathless’, its first national marketing campaign in over 35 years. The ad film is more of a music video, with Sunidhi Chauhan singing a song in a single breath – much like the one sung by Shankar Mahadevan in 1998. The ad has been crafted by Pranav Harihar Sharma, creative consultant, Hamdard Laboratories. It was shot at Chauhan’s home in a single take.

With this, the brand’s messaging has undergone a major rehaul, even shifting its target audience. Without a major ad campaign, Cinkara only saw some minor region specific print ads and POS (point of sale) communication. That, too, stopped in 2014. The brand has also redesigned its packaging.

The Hindi version of the original iconic ad featuring Jaffrey cemented the tagline ‘Yeh Bechara Kaam ke Bojh ka Maara’. All the communication that followed, tied back to the same line of thought.

Cinkara primarily offers benefits like restoring energy, increasing appetite, and helping get rid of fatigue and weakness. It sits alongside 600 other Hamdard brands, including names like Rooh Afza, Sualin, Safi, Pachnol, Roghan Badam Shirin, and Hamdard Gripe Water.

“We are reevaluating the brand portfolio and deciding which brand has to come up and reconnect with the population. Cinkara not only enjoys a strong equity, but the product really works. And in COVID times, we have gone back to fortifying our bodies with the right kind of vitamins and minerals from the immunity perspective. It was a good time for repositioning,” says Suman Varma, chief marketing officer, Hamdard Laboratories (medicine division).

Suman Varma
Suman Varma

The brand has maintained a strong presence in Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and West Bengal, along with healthy movement in key Hamdard markets like Delhi, Hyderabad and Bengaluru. The plan now is to reach more homes across the country. The product is mostly bought directly and is not a prescriptive medicine.

While Cinkara caters to a really wide age bracket of consumers (from kids to senior citizens), it has for so long been targeted at the working male members of a middle class family. With the latest campaign, the focus has shifted to the woman (mother) of the house. It is possible that back in the 1970s, men were considered the sole breadwinner and, in a way, the main decision maker in an Indian household.

Apart from the TG and reconnecting the brand, a key task for Varma at the moment is to break the seasonality aspect of the brand. “Whatever POSM and little print advertising support was given, was done during the peak summer (season), when people feel fatigue due to the heat. A health tonic can’t have seasonality as it is something you’re good to go with 365 days of the year,” she says.

However, the communication, in a way, glorifies the overworked working mother, who is very much in charge of the family’s welfare, and is burdened with two jobs - office duty and the housewife's share. It comes at a time when brands are talking about sharing the workload at home between both the parents. Sharma clarifies, saying, “It is a known fact that the health and nutrition of the family is taken care of by the mother, then why not talk to her?”

Prior to her stint as Hamdard’s CMO, Varma spent 26 years on the agency side of the business. From her experience of working on the health food drink brand Horlicks, she recalls that it is always the mother who decides how many cups of Horlicks the rest of the family would have in a day. Cinkara’s case was similar.

Speaking about the complete lack of advertising of the brand, Varma says that the challenge is to take care of the 600 brands on a limited marketing budget. “You end up supporting fewer brands properly, and the rest of the brands get some POSM support, to keep them alive. It is a reality,” she explains.

However, three decades is quite a gap to give rise to a lot of players in the health and wellness space. The competition would be much worse in comparison with the 1980s, especially with the increasing awareness around health and fitness. Is Cinkara in for a shock?

Varma responds by saying, “There are many players in the space, but we are a combination of natural and allopathic ingredients, and our pricing is also right. Who would offer 500 ml of a tonic for less than Rs 100? If a brand has survived for so long without marketing support, it just needs to reconnect with its consumers. It is also a question of how aggressively a company is pushing to own a particular space.”

Pranav Harihar Sharma
Pranav Harihar Sharma

Sharma says that the idea of ‘Breathless’ is based on the insight that consumers are active round the clock today. “They are, in a way, living a breathless life. There is a saying in Hindi that ‘saas lene ki fursat nahi hoti’.”

He set out to tweak the brand’s original proposition of solving a problem. The idea, instead, was to uphold the benefits of the product and to showcase it as a multiplier. Thus, the new ‘ek aur ek gyarah’ tagline. “We decided to speak about what happens if you have Cinkara and get the negativity of a problem out of it. That, if you consume Cinkara, it becomes ‘ek aur ek gyarah’, or a multiplier.”

While the product fits well with today’s narrative of immunity and overall well-being, it was a conscious decision to keep the communication away from the shadow and influence of COVID. “It was, in a way, a relaunch, and we decided to keep it centred on the brand. There was no need of making it contemporary unnecessarily,” Sharma says.

The integrated campaign includes facets like WhatsApp marketing, video advocacy, and blogs on Momspresso by mothers. This would be accompanied by the interactive ‘Breathless’ radio campaign on Radio Mirchi. The core idea would be ‘ek aur ek gyarah’. West Bengal Bengal and the North East will witness radio spots across Ishq FM and Mirchi.


  • Brand: Hamdard Cinkara

  • Team Hamdard: Uzma Majeed, Shariq Afaq, Suman Varma

  • Agency and Production Company: M.O.M. (Mortals On Mission), Mumbai

  • Idea, Script, Screenplay, Lyrics, Direction: Pranav Harihar Sharma

  • Director(s) of Photography: Uttam Dhakal

  • Producer: Darpan Trishal

  • Director-Operations & amp; Creative Producer: Reena Oberoi

  • Executive Producer: Vikash Arya

  • Music Director: Hanif Shaikh

  • Editor (Offline/Online/Grade/VFX): Protim Khound

  • Animation: Gravicks

  • Casting Company: M.O.M. (Mortals On Mission), Mumbai

  • Singer/Actor: Sunidhi Chauhan

Have news to share? Write to us atnewsteam@afaqs.com