Shreyas Kulkarni

Vicco’s march into the youth territory with Alia Bhatt and a new jingle

The brand is trying to regain relevance among the millennials, but will its new ads do the trick?

A bandage is a go-to choice for a skin wound. But our grandparents and their ancestors would apply a mixture of Neem leaves to the wound. A few days later, the wound was healed.

A good rub of the leaves into a paste was, and is, the key. For Vicco, the leading manufacturer of herbal and healthcare products, a good rub’s what it thought was necessary to make it appealing to the millennials.

Founded in 1952, the company, in 2020, reworked the iconic jingle for its Vicco Vajradanti Ayurvedic Toothpaste in a spot featuring actress Alia Bhatt. “Like Alia, many others trust the Ayurvedic goodness of Vicco Vajradanti. Switch to trusted Ayurveda today” - read the ad’s YouTube description.

Shrirang Tembhekar, head of media and marketing, Vicco Laboratories, remarks that despite its high brand equity, “youngsters and millennials didn’t connect with the brand, and always felt it belonged to their parents and the generation before them… To change that perception, we thought Alia should be the face so that we can reach out to the youngsters”.

“The jingle was one of the brand’s biggest assets. We took it forward and made it more relevant with minute changes, the way it was sung, the instrumentation... the challenge was you could go overboard and sometimes you don't reach the threshold you're supposed to reach,” remarks Virendra Saini, co-founder and managing partner, Yellow Windows Communication.

Saini was an executive director with Triton Communications and made the Vicco Vajradanti ad with Jyotsna Bhatt there, before setting up his own shop with the latter, and bringing Vicco on board as a client.

"Somehow, the magic happened and we were able to change it right enough for the old (customers) to remain and the young to come into the brand," Saini adds.

In May 2022, the company released another ad, this time for its turmeric face wash. It's different from the usual Vicco ads we're used to over the years.

“Vicco was a late entrant to the category. There are a lot of established face washes and our biggest task was to stand out” reveals Bhatt, co-founder and managing partner at Yellow Windows Communications.

She goes on to add that every ad had a similar format (state problem and then somebody gives a solution). “We thought we will approach it differently and that's how we came up with the idea of a musical.”

Vicco, in the face wash category, competes against brands like Dove, Ponds, Lakme, Himalaya, L’Oreal, VLCC amongst others and many of these brands’ ads have a youthful vibe to them.

Vicco’s love for the jingle in its ads, is renowned. Moviegoers, even back to the 1980s, remembered the Vajradanti jingle for, as per calculations, the word Vicco is repeated six times in the 15-second ad.

Responding to the new Vajradanti film, Sambit Mohanty, head of creative, South, McCann Worldgroup, tells afaqs!, “I wish Vicco had done more than just remixing an old jingle and making a music video-ish ad. Those days are long gone, when a song and dance used to do the trick. Nowadays, brands need a clear differentiator - and their communication needs to deliver that message in a truly memorable way.”

“This ad has neither of those elements and I doubt it’ll create much relevance for personal care product consumers. I doubt it’ll create much relevance for toothpaste consumers.”

Naresh Gupta, co-founder and chief strategy officer, Bang in the Middle, doesn’t see anything new in the commercials. “It’s the same promise, delivered in the same way. It’s just that they have a new face and beat. I also think that the brand doesn’t need a reinvention. The audience likes the slightly old-world appeal of the brand. The new jingles just make it sound like, we have a new ad.”

From movies to digital

While we’ve seen Vicco ads on the 70mm screen, TV, and print, do they spell a change for the brand’s media spending? Says Tembhekar, “We signed Alia and with the change in overall tonality of communication, we are leveraging digital media as well… Normally, we focus more than 50 per cent of spends on print. Now, we are increasing spends on digital as well.”

And, speaking about the impact of the present economic scenario on its media spends, Tembhekar says they’re focusing only on priority markets right now. Each Vicco brand has a different market. For instance, Maharashtra and West Bengal are important markets for the company’s face wash.

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