"47% of asthma patients fear social stigma more than the disease itself." - Nikhil Chopra, EVP and head, India Business, Cipla

By Abid Hussain Barlaskar , afaqs!, New Delhi | In Advertising
Published : September 27, 2018 05:23 AM
In the brand's latest ad, Priyanka Chopra's revelation of being an asthmatic is set to dilute the bad buzz around asthma and inhalers.

Pharmaceutical company Cipla, in its latest commercial for campaign #BerokZindagi aims at dispelling stigmas around asthma and normalising the use of inhalers in everyday life. However, roping in an in-vogue star like Priyanka Chopra and getting her to open up about her personal battles against the respiratory disorder since childhood, adds a shiny red cherry on the pie.

The inhaler is a drug delivery apparatus which is used to treat respiratory disorders like asthma. As Cipla claims, inhalers happen to be more potent than oral administration as the procedure requires smaller doses of medication delivered directly to the lungs.

The latest commercial is part of the campaign launched by Cipla last year. The team at Cipla maintains that the #BerokZindagi campaign was a pilot project aimed at establishing inhalers as the most effective and safe choice to combat the respiratory illness. The campaign's purpose was to educate the larger asthmatic audience on how to manage and control the disease. The latest ad is aimed at social stigmas - one of the key factors for limited disclosure of being asthmatic and avoiding inhaler use in public.

Cipla released two ads last year for #BerokZindagi, on similar lines.

And in Priyanka's case, she learnt she was asthmatic when she was five. It was her mother, a doctor, who encouraged her to use inhalers. However, it was her relatives who were apprehensive that it would make her reliant on the medication.

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So why the ad? Aren't inhalers prescription medicines and better demonstrated by a doctor? And, the ad speaks for all brands of inhalers in general which actually rely on the doctor for sales. How does this B2C communication benefit Cipla as a brand?

afaqs! spoke to Nikhil Chopra, executive vice president and head, India Business, Cipla, to find out more about the brand's communication.

Nikhil Chopra Nikhil Chopra

"There is a lack of awareness on inhalation therapy in India. It's surrounded by social stigma. 47 per cent of patients fear the social stigma more than the disease itself. They are afraid of getting labelled, further leading to avoidance by society, peers and family. Our research also revealed prevailing myths and misconceptions that inhalers are addictive, have strong medication and are not suitable for children," Chopra explains.

"Inhalation refers to a category of medicines and not a particular molecule or a brand. It encompasses a large number of molecules, their combinations and a large number of inhalation devices. The choice of the molecule and the inhaler is the physician's prerogative. The campaign thus aims to normalise the use of inhalers as a category and increase patient awareness so as to better enable doctors to drive the optimum health outcomes for their patients," he adds.

"The primary aim of our mass education drive is to promote awareness among patients to consult doctors for the most effective treatment of asthma, which is inhalation therapy. The campaign is our effort to go beyond drugs and devices and shape the respiratory health ecosystem. This thought stems from Cipla's purpose of 'caring for life' and focuses on 'patient-centricity' that drives our innovation philosophy," Chopra adds.

Juneston Mathana Juneston Mathana

Speaking about the brand's brief, Juneston Mathana, creative director, Grey Group - India, who worked on the campaign, says, "The brand's sharply defined objective was to increase the usage of inhalers by removing the stigma associated with the disease and eliminating the myths surrounding the therapy. One of the biggest myths was related to the addiction of inhalers. With Priyanka (Chopra) on board, the communication needed to reflect her unstoppable attitude in life and use her personality to bust the 'addiction' myth surrounding inhalation therapy."

With regard to the challenges of this medical communication, Mathana explains, "We had to show inhalers as the solution for asthmatics to lead a better lifestyle rather than focus on their condition. And it helped that Priyanka has been an asthmatic since childhood. Since this is a prescription-based product, not only did we have to highlight that inhalers are better and safe but encourage asthmatics to ask their doctors about their benefits."

Expert speak:

Praful Akali, founder and MD, Medulla Communications, an agency that specialises in healthcare communication, maintains that this communication takes a real person like Priyanka, who demonstrates #BerokZindagi and gives away her secret to break myths and false perceptions.

Praful Akali Praful Akali

"I hope the brand puts media monies behind it and utilises the campaign to its full potential. It also has potential for some great PR, social and user-generated campaigns as an offshoot of the ad," Akali says.

His opinion regarding the brand's B2C communication for a B2B category is, "Gone are the days when pharma was seen as a B2B category - it's now clear that consumers, doctors and pharmacists, (also dieticians, gym instructors, caregivers etc. sometimes) each play a role in the decision-making process for pharma or healthcare brands. So, pharma companies are reaching out to a mix of these stakeholders to drive brand decisions".

Akali adds his take on how Cipla would reap the benefits from the ad film, "While doctors prescribe inhalers, the challenge in the category, for Cipla, is not generating doctor prescriptions but getting patients to comply with those prescriptions. Patients believe that inhalers are addictive and users have very poor health or are weak. By using Priyanka's story to break these misperceptions the campaign should get patients to comply with inhaler prescriptions where Cipla is by far, the market leader, thus directly benefiting Cipla's business."

Pravin Sutar, executive creative director, Dentsu Webchutney is of the opinion that the ad has managed to trigger the right conversation about the problem and showcases the solution in its full glory. He believes that using Priyanka Chopra and her family background as a part of the storyline is interesting, but as a creative approach, it was playing it safe.

Pravin Sutar Pravin Sutar

With regard to the B2C style of communication, he says, "That's a smart move, targeting the TG in this category who are surely looking for a simpler solution; contemplating between the tablets and inhalers. Brands like Cipla, an established leader, stepping in and giving their TG an assurance about a solution, will be a big relief for them. After watching this ad, anyone suffering from asthma will be aware of the message and will ask for the inhaler."

When it comes to benefiting Cipla Sutar states, "Clearly Cipla is trying to make the awareness super-strong in this category. By having a generic dialogue rather than being specific, Cipla has managed to trigger the awareness in this category. It might help them in changing the behaviour of their TG who is stuck in that hazy dilemma. They are clearly trying to own the category. Cipla, as brand, will stick in their TG's mind as a first option."

Anadi Sah, lead innovation - creative and tech, Isobar, finds the film impressive and compelling. He believes that roping in a celebrity who narrates her own experience is a remarkable strategic decision that would surely benefit the brand as well as the entire category.

Anadi Sah Anadi Sah

"Any category whether B2B or B2C, at the end of the day, is driven by humans who are sensitive to emotions and receptive to external stimulus. It has been a while since the Tech and IT sectors have broken this B2B vs B2C divide and shifted to a humanised approach of storytelling that has benefited them. This film initiates the approach in the Pharma and Healthcare category," Sah says.

"Being a leading pharma brand, I feel it is a thoughtful move to address a category challenge. This move benefits brands in multiple aspects. The film clearly builds awareness and recall for the brand as well as a cure for an ailment that's always ignored or avoided. Further, I am confident that this will also generate a demand for Cipla, once there is a change in the audience's perception through the film," he adds.

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