Shreyas Kulkarni

Horlicks' first ad under HUL focuses on boosting immunity

Conceptualised by FCB India, the ad extols the essential nutrients in the malt-based powder.

The pressures of the lockdown, the summer heat and the anxieties about the Coronavirus have all taken a toll on our health and well-being. Over time, our immunity may decrease, leading to an unnecessary set of complications.

Now, imagine the lives of frontline healthcare workers. They're risking their lives while treating Coronavirus patients, unable to go back home, or meet their loved ones. One can't begin to imagine the stress their body must be going through due to all those double-digit work hours.

Horlicks, the malt-based powder brand, has come out with a new ad film which is all about boosting one's immunity. In the ad, a man (husband) talks about his wife, a doctor, who doesn't enjoy the luxury of working from home. He says, "... And she's fighting a war, day and night at the hospital. What she needs is immunity."

The ad is also the first after Hindustan Unilever Ltd (HUL), India's leading FMCG company, acquired Horlicks from GlaxoSmithKline plc, a British multinational pharmaceutical company, for Rs 3,045 crore.

Sudhir Sitapati, executive director, foods & refreshment, HUL, says, “In our battle against this pandemic, it is crucial to understand what each of us can do at an individual level. With this TVC, we aim to highlight the need for stronger immunity, which is essential in these trying times. Balanced nutrition is important, especially when the immune system needs to be in optimal condition. Horlicks has Zinc, Vitamin C and Vitamin D – key nutrients known to support immunity.”

“Recently, we also committed to donating packs of Horlicks to all major COVID hospitals in 12 key cities to help support the immunity of healthcare workers and providers as they continue their tireless fight against the Coronavirus,” Sitapati added.

Swati Bhattacharya
Swati Bhattacharya

We wondered if a change in ownership also warranted a change in communication strategy, but Swati Bhattacharya, chief creative officer, FCB India, the agency which handles the malt-based powder, responded in the negative.

An interesting aspect of the ad is the ambiguity of Horlicks' sub-brand. While the mere mention of this brand invokes imagery of a children's drink, in reality, it has several sub-brands that are aimed more at adults. The adult to young ratio of the sub-brands now stands at 6:3.

Horlicks and Junior Horlicks are for children, while Mother’s Horlicks, Lite Horlicks, Women’s Horlicks, Horlicks Protein+ and Active Horlicks are all aimed at adults.

In the ad, the drink was aimed at the female protagonist, the doctor, but Bhattacharya says, "It's not just for the adults, but for the whole family because for years, Horlicks was seen as the 'the great family nourisher'... The ad is talking about taking care of the caregiver, and the thing is that in a family, we all have to be each other's caregivers. In the times we are all in, we worry for the people we love, and that's how Horlicks comes in."

Bhattacharya also revealed an interesting aspect about how the ad was made. While the actors shot the scenes from their respective homes, the director and DOP, a real life couple, then put the scenes together.

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