Abid Hussain Barlaskar

Dettol - PVR partnership: What does it mean for both the brands?

The Dettol and PVR Cinemas partnership comes as movie screens across India are getting ready to reopen next month (August).

After fulfilling Indians’ ‘germ kill’ need for decades, hygiene brands are out to help businesses defend themselves against the COVID-19 crisis. Dettol, the hygiene brand from Reckitt Benckiser (RB), has just announced a long-term partnership with PVR Cinemas to help the latter provide a COVID-safe movie viewing environment for customers.

PVR venues will now be equipped with hand sanitising stations and sanitiser dispensers. Also, Dettol disinfectant liquid will be used to sanitise common areas and utilities of the venues.

Dettol hand sanitising stations at a PVR
Dettol hand sanitising stations at a PVR

Out of home movie viewing is among the businesses hit hard because of the COVID-induced lockdown and compulsory social distancing norms. The entire business came to a standstill with movie halls completely shutting down.

The Dettol-PVR move comes at a time when there are reports about movie screening getting back to business. The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting has reportedly recommended that the cinema halls should be allowed to reopen next month (August).

“The lockdown is slowly easing, and people have start coming out of their homes. Our plan is to partner with like-minded entities, and provide a safe return to the new normalcy… PVR is a place where a significant number of people come in contact with each other. We are also looking at a few other partnerships,” says Pankaj Duhan, chief marketing officer, RB Health South Asia.

Pankaj Duhan
Pankaj Duhan

He reveals that the Dettol team took note of the safety/hygiene protocols, and ran them through its hygiene R&D experts and scientists. Dettol products were integrated into those protocols – the right dilution, how it should be used, the frequency of sanitisation, etc.

Speaking of such partnerships, Dettol isn’t the only one. Earlier this month, Unilever announced a global partnership with hotels startup OYO Hotels & Homes to help facilitate ‘sanitised stays’ at OYO properties. Unilever would provide hygiene kits for the guests and cleaning supplies for the staff from its brands, like Domex, Sunlight, Cif and Dettol’s rival Lifebuoy.

OYO-Unilever partnership
OYO-Unilever partnership

Back in April, RB had also announced a tie-up with Hilton Hotels in the US. As a part of the multiyear partnership, RB would provide talent and Lysol hygiene experts for disinfection of premises.

Also, in light of the pandemic, what used to be occasional or seasonal outdoor activation stunts for hygiene brands, is turning out to be mainstream partnerships. We have seen such moves from Dettol, Savlon and Lifebuoy in the past.

As part of its ‘Dettol Banega Swachh India’ campaign in 2015, Dettol had deployed 100 on-ground 'Dettol Hand Wash Agents' during the Nashik Kumbh Mela while also distributing hand sanitiser packs.

Similarly, in 2018, Lifebuoy placed automated hand sanitiser dispensers in puja pandals in Kolkata, Mumbai and Guwahati as a part of its ‘Germ Nashini’ campaign. With its ‘Healthy Hands Chalk Sticks’ campaign in 2017, Savlon introduced chalk sticks infused with soap in village schools.

However, with Dettol lending its hygiene equity to PVR, it’s pretty evident what the latter stands to gain from the partnership. “What we hope is, people will not only have the elevated safety standards of Dettol, but also the confidence and reassurance that the venue is going to be Dettol protected,” says Duhan.

While Dettol gets to be the hero in a COVID sensitive environment, the brand also had to check a few boxes to find a perfect partner.

According to Statista, around 99 million people went to PVR cinemas across India in fiscal year 2019. The company operates over 800 screens across 71 cities. However, the attendance in the COVID scenario is expected to be significantly lower.

“We have three criteria for such partnerships. The partner should be a marquee name, and have the same equity standards as Dettol. It should have the right quality processes to integrate the Dettol protection. And, it should be able to impact and touch the lives of a significant number of people,” Duhan reveals.

Dettol - PVR partnership: What does it mean for both the brands?

Dettol is also among the brands which had caught on to the COVID trend early on, launching products, like laundry and surface disinfectants, much ahead of its rivals. Soon after the pandemic struck, Dettol’s rivals like Savlon, Lifebuoy and Dabur launched several formats of ‘germ kill’ solutions.

“This is not the first, or the last time, this is happening – SARS, Nipah and H1N1 happened in the past. COVID is not a time to be taking advantage of. It is a huge crisis and all possible competitors need to come together to provide high quality solutions. The demand is still outstripping supply. I am alright with any number of competitors at a time like this, provided they are launching high quality products. More players actually help to drive habits of disinfection, hygiene and protection,” Duhan says.

While the spread of COVID-19 has put the focus on hygiene practices across the country, Duhan reveals that Indians still don’t wash their hands enough. The penetration of handwashes is still at only 25 per cent in India.