Aishwarya Ramesh
Marketing

Chyawanprash Diaries: Here's what went down between Vir Das and Dabur

The standup comic offered his opinion on more than one brand during the course of his hour long Netflix special - this is how one brand responded.

Moment marketing was previously known as Amul's forte. In the 1960s, Amul began punning on current events by putting up billboards with its mascot the Amul Girl, generally commenting on a current, relevant, timely social issue. This is the essence of moment marketing - to capture a trend that's making news and make it relevant to the brand and what it stands for - hence creating relevance with the audience too. An advantage that brands like Amul didn't have back then is the presence of social media. With the increasing reach and popularity of social media in India, more and more brands are hopping on to the moment marketing bandwagon. This includes the likes of Zomato, Indigo, Durex, with brands like Hajmola and Dabur joining the fun.

In stand-up comic Vir Das' hour long Netflix special, he takes digs at different brands and the place they hold in society. Old Monk, Parle-G, and most notably, Dabur Chyawanprash. Here's a short excerpt from Das' standup special.

'If you want to experience our country, you have to taste our country. Therefore, the first thing you must put in your bloody mouth is Chyawanprash. Non-Indians, this is like an herbal organic paste for good health. It’s like peanut butter, if you hate your children. But this paste is also a mystery. Over 50 years, nobody knows what is actually in Chyawanprash. To write this joke, I Googled, “What is in Chyawanprash?”. Google, the Google! Says, Gooseberry jam, ghee, honey, some herbs and spices. When Google is like, “I don’t know, man. Stuff”.'

This not only roused users' curiosity, but also prompted Dabur to join the conversation. After the special was released, Dabur reached out to Vir Das via social media to help him with a full list of ingredients and to send him samples of the products too.

We reached out to the brand to question how this social conversation would help the brand’s equity. Kapil Ohri, head of digital marketing at Dabur India, replied, “This was more of a ‘Q&A’ conversation, as post this, the consumers know why Dabur Chyawanprash is so high on the trust and health quotient. Going through the comments on Vir’s post, we realised that figuring out the ingredients of Dabur Chyawanprash is a genuine ask and hence, we thought, why not give consumers the same.”

Kapil Ohri
Kapil Ohri

Ohri adds that Dabur Chyawanprash’s legacy has been built on credibility and trust for over 70 years. “If any consumer pops a genuine query, we owe him an answer for the same. Organic mentions in the OTT space are welcome as long as they are with a context. OTT space helps the brands stay connected and relevant with the new age digital audience,” he says.

Eventually, the brand had the last word in the exchange. They sent Das a package with the different variants of Chyawanprash that they have - including chocolate and date flavours that address the point Das was making during the show - that the herbal mixture has always tasted terrible.

On Twitter, Das posted a thread with a complete list of ingredients as sent to him by Dabur India. Kumar Deb Sinha, executive vice president, Dentsu Aegis Network and country head, The Story Lab India, opines that Dabur's social media, marketing team, and agency managed the reaction and turned it to their benefit extremely well. "To start off with, Vir spoke about a generic product and not a brand. There are multiple players who sell this product. However, Dabur took the initiative to address the concern raised by Vir with the product and in the process, established/reaffirmed their position as the spokesperson/owner of this category," says Sinha. He points out that it helps their position since Dabur is a generic brand for this product category.

Kumar Deb Sinha
Kumar Deb Sinha

"While the Netflix show was not brand initiative, I am sure, they tied up with Vir Das post his show and managed the social media engagement with him (which I would like to believe is paid). However, the way the reaction was scripted out between the brand and the celebrity, it seemed organic and brought out Dabur as a progressive and cool brand amongst the social media audience. They have established the ingredients, showcased the variants to tackle the taste challenge and also established that they are a very proactive brand, in short they ticked all boxes for the millennial audience. And by the way, it's extremely smart social media marketing, using an influencer reach to share brand message, considering their own following is negligible," he adds. It's interesting to note that while Vir Das has almost 400,000 followers on Instagram, the Dabur Chyawanprash India account has a little over 200 followers.

Sinha opines that because of his personality and sense of humour, Das transforms from a disbeliever to an advocate, thanks to the proactive nature of the brand. He adds that it will work very well amongst his followers and transfer the goodwill to the brand as well. "All in all, this is a clear case of living the adage….you can’t control action, but you can always control your reaction, and over here, the brand's reaction has made them a winner on social media in this situation. If I were competitors of Dabur in this category, I will be repenting the opportunity lost (for not being proactive)," he says.

“Conversations that kick-start a conversation are critical factors for both - influencers , as well as brands. However, this particular ‘dig' at DCP ( Dabur Chawanprash) really stepped on a power-insight of the ‘mystical ingredients’ that has had multiple generations quietly consume this magic potion. The banter had Vir Das actually spelling out the ingredients - it's a different issue they are still fuzzy but still firmly placed in the goodness world. So a win-win for both,” says Viren Razdan, managing director, Brand-nomics. He adds that since Vir Das as a brand has a much younger / cooler profile - it made sense for DCP to jump up to this opportunity to push its contemporary quotient.

Viren Razdan
Viren Razdan

Razdan adds that most of the episode is based on relatable instances that are deeply embedded in the past. “He talks about Parle-G and Old Monk and these are experiences consumers have all grown up with. For a brand held very close to the heart of the Mom - a cool spring in its step does good, social media conversations and quirk would be a welcome break from the world of DCP Holiness,” he signs off.