Sunit Roy

#SleepyUncle decoded...

A closer look at Philips' new consumer-facing campaign for sleep apnea related products.

The internet can make anyone an overnight star. Evidently, after #DancingUncle - Sanjeev Shrivastava, Arvind Bhatia, aka #SleepyUncle, has become quite a sensation with netizens. So much so that the hilarious video of #SleepyUncle has gone viral, being shared, posted and tagged over and over again especially by tweeple. But what seems to be an innocent post by a young girl of her father's snoring habit and forgetfulness and how he dozes off almost everywhere, is actually part of Philips India's latest advertising trick - #DontSleepOnIt.

#SleepyUncle decoded...

#DontSleepOnIt ad film released by Philips India

A few weeks before the ad film was launched Philips India seeded the #SleepyUncle memes that went viral making Mr Bhatia, the focal point of the campaign, an internet sensation. The brand wanted to catch people laughing about the symptoms and then give serious thought to sleep apnea (a sleep disorder).

#SleepyUncle decoded...

Aisha Bhatia's Facebook post

"We released a short clip of #SleepyUncle snoozing at the breakfast table while his kids made a symphony of his snores. The clip set the momentum for us to launch the main film #DontSleepOnIt. We will be using a mix of digital, OOH and print to scale it up further," explains R Harish, head of sleep and respiratory care and healthcare at home, Philips India.

Conceptualised and created by The Glitch, the campaign targets urban audiences primarily for the reason that they have better access to healthcare facilities and also because these consumers are at a higher risk/predisposed to develop sleep apnea.

This is not the first time that sleep apnea has been advertised; health institutions also do so, but fail to get much reach. In fact, last year, Philips India released a campaign featuring Ram Kapoor and Gautami Kapoor to market its obstructive sleep apnea products. Unfortunately, patients are usually made aware of this condition only when they go for health check-ups.

#SleepyUncle decoded...

Philips India's obstructive sleep apnea campaign, featuring Ram Kapoor and Gautami Kapoor, released in 2017

Hence, the brand undertook detailed marketing research to understand consumer attitude towards the most commonly visible symptoms of sleep apnea. It brought in some interesting insights such as - snoring is universally seen as the most prominent symptom and seen as a marker of deep or restful sleep. Also, 'Bhulakkar' and 'Kharaate-champion' are common terms people use in jest, which made the brand and the creative team realise that to create awareness, changing the conversation around these symptoms was a must.

#SleepyUncle decoded...

R Harish

"While 'kharaate' (snoring) is a nuisance for the bed partner, the family doesn't usually see that as a strong enough reason to meet a sleep specialist," reveals Harish.

He adds, "It is estimated that about 7-9 per cent of the Indian adult population suffers from sleep apnea. However, despite the high prevalence, awareness of the disorder is still quite low. We have undertaken multiple surveys over the last few years which firmed up our belief that a consumer advertising campaign was the need of the hour to raise awareness and initiate a dialogue on this disorder."

Sleep apnea devices are a globally established industry. Philips is one of the market leaders in this space and plans to sustain its focus on growing this business further across India.

However, we wanted to know how challenging it was to craft a communication for a not-so-popular product/one in the medical equipment category, as it is more of a B2B deal than B2C.

"It is a challenging category to design a campaign for," agrees Harish.

#SleepyUncle decoded...

Kabir Kochhar

"Not just because of the medical underpinning, but the symptoms are often hiding in plain sight and conventionally not seen as markers of a deeper disorder. This prompted us to design a campaign that strikes a chord with viewers by depicting how the seemingly humorous/everyday situations are manifestations of a deeper problem. It was a departure from the usual style of healthcare category campaigns which are more educative or B2B in nature, but that was a bet we were willing to take," he says.

Kabir Kochhar, founding partner, The Glitch, adds, "The Philips team did not want just a product-centric film. They encouraged us to first build an engaging narrative, draw in the consumers and then bring out the need to visit a sleep specialist. The team ensured that we don't trigger fear in the prospective customer. Instead, it would make the brand a companion in the user journey by helping customers identify with characters in the film."

Over to experts

#SleepyUncle decoded...

Praful Akali

#SleepyUncle decoded...

Ayan Banik

According to Praful Akali, founder and MD, Medulla Communications, the campaign brings alive the challenges faced by those that suffer from sleep apnea in a very practical, yet engaging way.

"I think it's very smartly done and creates a push for sleep apnea sufferers not to become the next #SleepyUncle. The content is good. It works well because any sleep apnea sufferer or their family members, who view the video, would be able to identify if they're suffering from sleep apnea and it also shames them into taking action. So, it can drive behavioural change too," says Akali.

Ayan Banik, associate vice-president - strategic planning, Cheil India, feels that the task here is not to directly influence sales, but influence people's awareness. "Once people are sufficiently aware, then, automatically, sales will happen. And Philips, as a hugely trusted global brand, will get the first mover advantage and preference in product purchase for bringing this ailment into public conversation. So, it's actually a B2C move that will trigger B2B sales," he says.

Banik, however, didn't like the execution of the campaign and says, "The execution should have been more realistic to increase its appeal and relevance; a case in point 'The Silent Couple' - a breast cancer awareness campaign done by Philips India - a few years back."


Client: Philips Respronics

Agency: The Glitch

Creative and Content Strategist

Account Planning and Management

Business Director: Narendra Prasad Mohandas

Associate Group Head: Ankisha Bhatia

Manager: Paras Suneja

Creative Team

Director: Vimoha Bagla

Associate Group Head: Abhilasha Chhabra

Senior Manager: Nipun Sood

Manager: Ansh Pradhan

Design Team and Production Team

National Director: Aniket Chaudhary

Associate Group Head: Atul Saini

Senior Designer: Sukriti Negi

Production House: The Glitch Media Pvt. Ltd.

Director: Aakash Motiani

Producer: Faizan Ansari

Executive Producer: Javed Siddiqui

Asst. Producer: Kamal Teja

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