Aishwarya Ramesh

Santoor ditches 31-year-old ‘mummy’ formula in new COVID-era ad

In a bid to stay relevant and topical to the current times, the ad focuses on the ability of the soap to aid in the fight against the Coronavirus.

In the past, Santoor ads have always been fairly formulaic. A radiant young woman, a mix up about her age, and a flabbergasted audience when they realise that she’s actually a mother. Usually, that realisation dawns when the daughter in question hugs her, or calls out to her loudly ‘Mummy’!

In recent times, since ADK Fortune Communications became Santoor’s agency on record, the brand has been attempting to break away from that formula.

In 2019, Santoor released a commercial for its product – Santoor Gold, which featured a young tour guide. There was no reference to her status as a mother. Instead, the ad focused on how the soap could help protect a woman’s skin against pollution. The agency intended to portray the woman as one who is focused on her career.

The brand can’t be faulted for attempting to break away from its formula. If Santoor had followed that formula in an ad during the Coronavirus pandemic, then it would have been called insensitive. During these times, consumers have their eyes peeled for marketers who’re attempting to use authentic messaging.

Santoor, as a soap, has always stood for beauty and youthfulness, but now, it is attempting to tread into the health and wellness space.

What’s interesting about this ad is that Santoor has its own line of hand washes – yet, it chooses to push the practice of hand-washing with a soap bar in this ad. With the popularity of liquid hand washes in today’s day and age, few associate soap bars with hand-washing, choosing, instead, to associate it with supple skin and overall body freshness.

Satbir Singh, founder and CCO, Thinkstr, opines that the brand (Santoor) had amongst the most powerful communication planks in Indian advertising, and that it is a tough act to follow in these circumstances.

Satbir Singh
Satbir Singh

“This seems to be a departure from what it used to do. Perhaps, the shield of protection was born out of the topical need for protection from germs and viruses. Dettol has occupied the dust and grime space for years, and has tried to get higher scores on skincare. Santoor has always been about ‘tvacha’. It’ll be an interesting space to watch,” he says. Singh has nearly 19 years of experience in the field of advertising and has worked with agencies like Ogilvy, Havas Worldwide and FCB Ulka.

Also Read: What makes Santoor's 30 year old "mummy!" formula work?

If one takes a look at Lifebuoy and Dettol’s messaging since the Coronavirus began spreading, they emphasise on using the bar format, as well as the liquid format. This ad by Lifebuoy associates using a soap bar with all-over-body germ protection, whereas all the other hand-washing ads display Lifebuoy’s liquid hand wash product.

Another ad that Lifebuoy had released in the context of the Coronavirus stars Bollywood actress Kajol. The ad features both a soap bar, and a bottle of liquid hand wash placed side by side. This was presumably to address the issue of availability, since most liquid hand wash products were sold out on e-commerce, and modern retail platforms when the first phase of lockdown was implemented in India.

A health and wellness brand that has used soap bars in its advertising messages is Dettol. It recently brought back its ‘Dettol Dhula’ tune to encourage hand-washing in a star-studded, shot at home ad that prominently featured soap bars.

Similar's Kajol's ad with Lifebuoy Dettol also released an ad with Bollywood actress Madhuri Dixit, in which she urges viewers to use a soap, or an alcohol-based hand sanitiser to kill germs and stop the spread of the novel Coronavirus. There is no visible brand mentioned on the products used in the ads.

Dettol was also among the first to release ‘shot-at-home’ ads at a time when there were restrictions on commercial ad film shooting due to the lockdown. These ads also demonstrated the efficacy of Dettol soap in the war against germs.

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