Rashmi Menon

Brand Owner's Summit: Sandeep Engineer on the making of Dabangg pipes

Astral Polytechnik-owner Sandeep Engineer revealed how the force of branding helped create a Rs 650-crore company.

It was not an easy journey for Sandeep Engineer, founder of Astral Polytechnik.. However, after 12 years of coming into existence, the company that manufactures and sells plastic plumbing pipes is known as the Dabangg pipe for its quality of being strong and resistant, not to mention its high impact association with the movie, Dabangg2.

At the Brand Owner's Summit held at Ahmedabad and oragnised by afaqs! on February 8-9, Engineer retraced the journey of the brand and its shift from being an unknown entity, which the dealers (hardware shops) hesitated to keep, to being a well-known brand name.

Brand Owner's Summit: Sandeep Engineer on the making of Dabangg pipes
A chemical engineer by profession, Engineer worked in the pharma sector before trying his hand at entrepreneurship. Two years after it commenced operations, his company, Astral, ventured into plumbing by collaborating with a US-based company that had worked with CPVC (Chlorinated Polyvinyl Chloride) for 55 years.

"We brought it to the country. Till 2004, we struggled to build the new category and faced many challenges in terms of visibility," he said. With a product that no one gives a second thought to or even sees on a day to day basis, it was a problem to create a connect with the customers. However, Astral brought out several products, which gave entire plumbing solutions for hot water, cold water and recently, even for fire sprinklers.

The same year, the company reached the Rs 25 crore turnover mark. "So, we had money to spend on branding. We approached Mudra (now DDB Mudra), where the first thing we did was to change the logo," said Engineer. The initial logo of Astral featured a plumber with the message 'Safety, Reliance Proven'. The new logo exhibited a pyramid made of plumbing pipes, as pyramids were counted amongst the strongest structures in the world and had stood the test of time. It also launched its first television commercial that year. Astral's brand message changed once more when the company went public. It became 'Astral, where innovation flows'.

Engineer said that once it began advertising, Astral started recording 45 per cent growth consistently, year on year. This year, Astral has a turnover of Rs 650 crore. He believes that it is only through forceful branding that customers will walk into a shop and directly ask for a brand.

To break into the Tier 2 and 3 cities, Astral then launched several activities and the 'Strong nahin, Astral strong' campaign began. This was also the time when Astral associated with Dabangg2. "Initially, I was hesitant but the in-film branding really worked for us considering we are now known as the Dabangg pipe in villages,"

Brand Owner's Summit: Sandeep Engineer on the making of Dabangg pipes

Engineer revealed about the brand's association with the Salman Khan-starrer, Dabangg2.

While there were five scenes where the brand was shown, the company simultaneously carried out hoardings and even television commercials that showed the strength of the pipe, used by the protagonist in a fight scene. The message was extended through wrapping of trams in Kolkata and local trains in Mumbai. About 56,000 people, mainly its target customers such as plumbers, dealers, architects and consultants - were given free tickets for the movie, which earned the brand much brownie points.

Summing up his presentation, Engineer said that to him, branding is to work within budget parameters to get the right target consumers and put across the brand proposition in the right way.

The event was powered by monster.com, supported by associate sponsor Bestow and dinner sponsor Khushi Advertising.

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