Spoilers: Needles, blood and microscopic shots of diseases are the most staple visuals (done to death) in a path-lab ad so far.
Metropolis, the diagnostic chain has launched Fever Fighters, a patient care initiative that promises to fight fever 24x7. The 360 campaign, conceptualised and executed by 21N78E Creative Labs, has launched with a web film on social platforms and will soon be screened in cinemas. Outdoor, radio, airports, Ola and Uber, mobile vans, Hotstar, Saavn, Quikr, and Truecaller are among the other media vehicles on which this campaign is being run.
The #Fightthefever campaign will utilise multiple channels to reach consumers - on Digital - YouTube, FB, Instagram, email, and In-App advertising. Other forms include display advertising, radio, print, SMS, in-cinema advertising, and Outdoor - Carwraps (branding), Bus Backs, Mobile Vans, and BTL promotion.
Let's rewind a bit to 1981 when Dr Sushil Shah (founder and chairman) set up the business as a local pathology lab in Gamdevi, South Mumbai. Since its inception, the Mumbai-based operator of medical diagnostic centres, backed by the Carlyle Group LP, has gone through its own share of conflicts and a fairly complex history of revenue generation, acquisitions and equity partnerships.
Growing affluence in India and an increasing number of people opting for health insurance are spurring demand for private medical services and giving companies such as Metropolis an edge over standalone test centres.
We asked Piyush Kumar, CMO, Metropolis Healthcare, if the brand was aiming at transforming Metropolis from a brick-and-mortar services firm to a digitally enhanced company and if it was on its way to catching up with the industry leader, Dr Lal PathLabs, in the years to come.
He responds, "We are building the business to provide better access to our customers on both fronts - through centres as well as digitally. Depending upon campaign objectives and consumer behaviour, we adapt our media plans for maximising reach and effectiveness."
Currently, the lab chain is present in all metro cities with a direct presence and through their partner network with over 2000+ collection centres and 150 labs across the country and abroad - Sri Lanka, Kenya, Mauritius, Zambia, and Ghana.
Consumer proximity has a big role to play as effective treatment and timely and accurate reports are key in such cases.
The diagnostic chain claims to offer the widest test menu of 4500+ tests. "We keep investing in expertise and the latest technology and equipment to provide the best and most accurate services to consumers," Kumar shares.
People are usually more inclined to visit their local pathology specialists/ family-run path-labs to get tests done. Therefore, it was pertinent to understand if the local establishments were Metropolis' competitors.
Avoiding a simple 'yes' or 'no' Kumar, nonetheless, says, "We always strive to provide the pathology services that are NABL (National Accreditation Board for Testing and Calibration Laboratories) and CAP (The College of American Pathologists) accredited, follow global protocols, use latest, certified equipment and inputs for testing. The most important aspect of testing is 'Test Reports' which include the interpretation of reports and the reference ranges."
Healthcare, as a sector, needs a lot of attention from consumers. To this end, Kumar states, "Marketers and advertising agencies have a challenge - to create relevant and effective communication to augment the message of having better health and regularly taking care of it."
When it comes to the diagnostic services market in India, 80 per cent of the market is with unorganised local labs. However, the share of organised players is growing and will continue to grow as the market moves into a growth phase with consumer education initiatives, government schemes and the overall increase in awareness around health.
As per industry estimates, India has over 125, 000 labs, of which only 25 per cent are accredited. "This pace should be picked up so that consumers get better and more accurate results about their health," adds Kumar.
Interestingly, of late, online pharma brands like Netmeds and Medlife have also become visible and have begun advertising on television. Coincidental much?
According to Sudhir Nair, managing director, Omnicom Media Group, the segment is not really a niche. "A fever can strike anyone, anywhere, regardless of age or geography during the monsoons. It is important not to fall into the trap of creating a fear psychosis of the implications of not treating a fever that does not seem to abate with time. Also, it was important to eschew technical jargon yet convey the offerings in a way that people will find easier to register and, therefore, get recall at the time of need."
Interestingly, in our superhero-obsessed era, the attempt seems to be to create a similar team of superhero specialists - with a very high-tech, CSI-ish feel to the whole thing.
Siddhant Lahiri, head - strategic planning, Rediffusion Y&R, feels that essentially, this is a straight-forward expertise campaign but it is an interesting attempt to do it differently. "The monsoon angle also makes it timely and topical," he adds.
Although 'Fever Fighters' is an interesting tag, Lahiri remains sceptical about how effective it is, though they have taken a rather functional, rational approach. Here, the pain-point being that almost all pathological labs are positioned on tangents of expertise, accuracy and trust. "To that end, the proposition doesn't stand out," Lahiri points out.
What we shouldn't overlook here is the fact that ultimately, we are a nation where self-medication reigns supreme (especially for things we consider relatively minor, like a fever) and a massive percentage of the path-lab category is unorganised.
On that note, Lahiri decodes that the company is hoping to change the consumer behaviour on two levels, "First, to make us take fever seriously enough to get a blood test done and, that too, at the Metropolis lab instead of my old, trusted neighbourhood lab. I don't see either happening with this communication. I wish they had tried to connect with the audience in a way that would either convince them to question existing behaviour or to consider Metropolis more."
Shrenik Gandhi, chief executive officer and co-founder, White Rivers Media, is impressed with the glamorisation angle of the process of taking a blood test. "Being category-first in such communication, it shall establish a clear distinction and recall," he observes.
With regard to the timing, "Ideally, it should have been launched at the onset of the monsoons," Gandhi signs off.
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