Abid Hussain Barlaskar

“There are no boring product categories”: Tata Salt’s Sagar Boke

Tata Salt’s Gandhi Jayanti special outdoor campaign, #BapuReminder, is something straight out of the movie Lage Raho Munna Bhai (2006). In the film, a confused Munna (Sanjay Dutt) is guided by the ghost of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi aka ‘Baapu’ aka ‘Mahatma’ aka ‘Father of the Nation’. Baapu’s spirit helps Munna choose the tough but right path.

Tata Salt has set up an interactive outdoor display for the 1st and 2nd of October at Mahatma Gandhi Road, Kala Ghoda, Fort, Mumbai. The digital-OOH installation is equipped with targeted sound-beam technology that nudges passersby with Baapu’s voice and reminds, ‘be the change you wish to see’. The passersby can then interact with the digital billboard.

Tata Salt’s unique initiative, #BapuReminder urges people to walk on Bapu’s path on his 150th birth anniversary.
Tata Salt’s unique initiative, #BapuReminder urges people to walk on Bapu’s path on his 150th birth anniversary.

The screen reflects visuals of places littered with garbage. The places gradually clean up, closing with a smiling Mahatma. The viewer further takes a pledge to keep the city clean. The campaign has been crafted by Ogilvy.

As per TCL’s (Tata Chemicals Limited) claims, Tata Salt is the market leader within the packaged salt segment in India and the brand occupies 65 per cent of the market. It competes with brands such as Surya, Annapurna, Captain Cook, Nirma Shudh and Aashirvaad. The Tata Salt brand includes products such as Tata Salt lite (low-sodium), Tata Salt Plus (iron+sodium) and Rock Salt.

Tata Salt Brands
Tata Salt Brands

Being a salt brand, Tata Salt has a really old but powerful Mahatma Gandhi connection — the Dandi March (March 12 – April 6,1930). Also known as the Salt Satyagraha, the Salt March, and the Dandi Satyagraha, the Dandi March, led by Gandhi, was a non-violent resistance campaign against salt tax levied in colonial India.

Since its in launch in 1983, the brand has been built with the tagline ‘Desh ka namak’ and its role, as an iodised salt, in eradicating iodine deficiency and diseases such as goiter (enlarged thyroid gland).

Over a quick chat with the brand’s marketer, Sagar Boke, head, marketing, Consumer Product Business, Tata Chemicals, we explore the role of OOH activations in a world where consumer’s attention is being squeezed into a smartphone screen. Also, how big a challenge is it for a salt brand to innovate, given the brand has stuck to its age old narrative of ‘iodised salt’?

Sagar Boke, Head –Marketing, Consumer Products Business, Tata Chemicals
Sagar Boke, Head –Marketing, Consumer Products Business, Tata Chemicals

Speaking about the campaign, Boke says, “Because of our positioning as ‘Desh ka namak’ we try to build on occasions of national importance. The brief to the agency was, to give people a nudge, the magnifier should be Gandhi’s quote, ‘Be the change you wish to see in the world’. Also, there is an MG Road in almost every city and it is usually among the busiest. The question is, ‘While you walk on MG Road everyday, do you walk on the path led by Gandhi?”

Boke reveals that Tata Salt, as a brand, is also trying out an IoT based digital banner for the first time.

Speaking on the role of outdoor activations when consumers are heavily inclined towards digital platforms, Boke says, “Every medium has a role. The choice of the medium has to be decided basis the objective. In the case of this campaign, no other medium could have been as effective.”

However, Boke stresses that the way a medium is utilised has to change. “Using the OOH by just using a regular hoarding may not draw as much attention. It has to be a clever combination of digital interaction and an outdoor ad. Mediums have to reinvent with time and make themselves relevant. Say, TV is reinventing itself in the form of OTT which is kind of an extension. But if they were to maintain a similar strategy and programming, the viewership could drop instead of moving to the next level,” he adds.

"Five years ago, digital was almost non-existent. Today, with digital covering around 17-18 per cent of the media spends, some other medium’s share of the pie has to shrink." - Sagar Boke

The #BapuReminder campaign will be further amplified on digital mediums via video, social media channels and influencers.

Asked about the challenge of marketing and innovating a product such as salt, which has stayed the same for years, Boke responds, “There are no boring product categories. It is the way a product is being marketed that makes the difference.

Pidilite CMO Vivek Sharma said something similar about the adhesives category recently, in an ET interview.

He adds, "Tata Salt was India’s first iodised salt and the iodine fortification has been one of the most successful stories of PPP (public private partnership) in the country and in the world. We also launched the iron and iodine fortified salt. It was technologically challenging since Iron and Iodine are by nature not stable together. We were among the first to be able to do so. We also launched the low-sodium salt.”

Boke mentions that having achieved a high market share in urban India, Tata salt is trying to go deeper into rural India, entering smaller towns and cities. While the regular Tata Salt is targeted at all consumers, Boke says, “With Tata Salt Lite we are targeting executives in bigger cities who have a sort of hectic and stressful lifestyle. Tata Salt Plus is targeted at mothers, who have a need for iron.”

Speaking on the segregation of the overall media pie across mediums, Boke maintains that while there is no pre-decided share for mediums, it depends on the objective.

“For variant’s such as Tata Salt Plus, Lite and Rock Salt, we use digital more as the TG is more urban and the digital adoption is higher in cities. For Tata Salt, TV continues to be the lead medium. Print is used depending on geographies such as Uttar Pradesh and Gujarat where we really want to amplify our reach alongside activations and TV,” he adds.

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