Deepashree Banerjee

"Smoking cessation category still nascent"    

The first commercial for Nicotex, a range of nicotine chewing gum owned by pharmaceutical company, Cipla, that launched in 2016 was merely a typical OTC (Over the Counter) brand communication in its early stages.

The 'sahi tareeka, sahi results' TVC, released last year came across as quirky and an attempt at being humorous, a big leap from the first one, but not necessarily an improvement in terms of the quality of messaging. The latest campaign titled, ‘We Believe You Can’ sets a mature tone and philosophy for the brand, resulting in a message that carries a little more gravitas.

The brand has released a host of ads over the years.

"Sahi Dosage, Sahi Tareeka, Sahi Result," was the message for consumers in the commercial for Nicotex that was released last year, which aimed to 'educate' the viewers about the 'correct' way of using the product.

Another TVC from a couple of years ago, shows two old buddies meeting up at a school reunion. One of them goes on to recommend the nicotine gum to his buddy who's simply tired of just promising his wife that he'll quit smoking.

Shivam Puri, CEO, Cipla Health
Shivam Puri, CEO, Cipla Health

We asked Shivam Puri, chief executive officer, Cipla Health whether he feels different campaign treatments each time will help the brand reach out to consumers from different age brackets and walks of life.

"The smoking cessation category in India is at a very nascent stage and consumer habits also change depending on what stage of the quitting journey the person is in," he responds.

"We work closely with consumers to constantly generate new insights, and hence our communication routes evolve as we develop a better understanding of our consumers," Puri explains.

This time, however, the brand has shifted from a functional to a more emotional approach.

"The primary reason being that quitting smoking requires help across many avenues. A person’s willpower plays a major role in his journey of quitting. Through this communication, by acknowledging the fact that quitting smoking is difficult, Nicotex aims to relate to its target audience that while there will be temptations along the way, Nicotex can be your friend along this tough journey," Puri elaborates.

"While product education is important in this category, we will drive it through other means such as our website, packaging, etc. We have launched a chatbot service on our website that helps people get personalised assistance on their quitting journey based on which stage one is at. Through that chatbot one can also schedule a call with a trained psychologist, which will help one stay mentally strong during his or her journey of quitting,” he adds.

Giving us a sneak peek into the consumer research conducted by the brand team, he says,

"We work closely with an ecosystem of partners to translate the business challenge of growing this category into a strong proposition which will relate to our consumers, and then try to find the best creative articulation of the same."

For this campaign, the brand has worked with their creative and strategic partner, Spring Marketing Capital ( a Mumbai based consulting firm, founded by Arun Iyer, former Lowe Lintas chairman and chief creative officer, Raja Ganapathy ex-chief of marketing, Sequoia India and Vineet Gupta, former chief executive officer, DDB Mudra Group) and with other research partners, specifically in the area of behavioural research to come up with the right insight.

Nicotine Replacement Therapy in India is at a very nascent stage. While the category growth is high, penetration amongst smokers is still very low, informs Puri.

Here are some facts. As per the Govt. of India’s ‘Global Adult Tobacco Survey’, 2016-17, 38.5 per cent smokers attempted to quit smoking in the 12 months preceding the research, while less than just five per cent of smokers attempted to quit smoking using some form of therapy.

Taking the cue, he says, "With Nicotex being the market leader, our sole objective is to drive category penetration.”

The recent commercial stays solely focussed in highlighting several moments/situations from the lives of active smokers (irrespective of people across age groups, gender and economic status) who are trying to quit and are tempted to smoke but decide not to with the help of Nicotex.

Puri adds that while there is some difference in the age profiles of their consumers, "We believe that in this category, what matters more than age is getting the right insights and crafting the right communication that resonates with anyone who is trying to quit smoking.”

He also tells us that TV still continues to be the most optimal way to drive reach and saliency as their consumers are spread across geographies, both in metros and in smaller towns.

"We supplement that with digital media, which we not only use to drive more views for our campaign, but also to create partnerships with various portals to build the kind of content audiences love, and to bring alive our proposition of ‘We Believe You Can’," he says.

Here's what the experts have to say about the campaign:

The film is definitely a leap from the previous execution, Anto Noval, creative director, Happy mcgarrybowen says. However, he feels, communication is not the best solution for this addiction.

Anto Noval
Anto Noval

"Communication might offer moral support and the product might curb oral fixation while eliminating the intake of 7,000 chemicals out of which 69 are known to be carcinogenic, it does not cure nicotine addiction. We don’t make alcoholics stop by limiting the number of drinks or pouring them a 15ml do we?" he reasons.

"Nice way to market a nicotine substitute. That’s all," he quips before rushing off to get his own ciggie break!

Rajdatta Ranade
Rajdatta Ranade

Rajdatta Ranade, senior creative director, FCB Ulka is of the opinion that compared to the earlier ads, the recent one is most definitely an ‘upgrade’.

We also asked Ranade in what way(s) does it stand out from the brand's earlier efforts.

“It is conceptually richer than the previous ones and the production quality is better too,” he states.

Besides that, there is a shift in the nature of the message, he points out.

‘We believe you can’ is conversational (like the brand is talking to their potential consumers), whereas the earlier line ‘It works’ is just a one sided claim/statement.

His pick from the lot is of course the latest one. “Today, people choose a brand’s ethos/philosophy before they choose a brand. So, this one surely goes with the spirit of the current times in advertising” he signs off.

We work closely with an ecosystem of partners to translate the business challenges of growing this category into a strong proposition, which will relate to our consumers, and then try to find the best creative articulation of the same.
Shivam Puri
"While product education is important in this category, we will drive it through other means such as our website, packaging etc.
Shivam Puri

Also Read: "Nicotex looks like regular chewing gum; consumers tend to chew it like that..."

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