The Hard-boiled Candy (HBC) category in India is around Rs 3,100 crore and has been growing at the rate of 9 per cent (approx) over the past year. In such as competitive and impulsive category, it is imperative that a brand maintains threshold visibility around the year. Hence, Pass Pass Pulse, the candy brand from the DS Group that stormed the HBC market with its launch in 2015 and has been the leader for the past two years, recently rolled out a new set of commercials. The campaign, a set of three ad films, rejigs the 'Pran jaaye par Pulse na jaaye' narrative that was introduced with the release of the brand's very first TVC in April 2017.
The ad films titled - Astronaut, Swing and Bedroom (10 seconds each) - have been conceptualised by J. Walter Thompson (JWT). The three commercials are based on the 'irresistibility factor' of Pulse where one forgets where they are and goes for the candy, consequences be damned!
"We believe that great brands are built on consistent messaging and great content. Also, the previous campaign was very well received by consumers. Our current communication is the creative expression of consumer responses, reflecting their love for Pulse's 'irresistibility' with the tagline - 'Pran jaaye par Pulse na jaaye'. The current campaign aims to build upon the foundation of the previous one," says Shashank Surana, vice president, new product development, DS Group.
The ads will be promoted on TV and digital with optimum spends. Though the TG is youth, the current campaign was launched with an aim to strike a chord with consumers of all ages. "Pulse is so irresistible that one finds it difficult to part with this candy and people find innovative ways of doing things to avoid sharing it. The new campaign is an extension of the previous campaigns wherein we have highlighted stories we came across about people not sharing the candy," says Sundeep Sehgal, executive creative director, JWT.
But isn't it challenging to create a series of 10-second ads?
"Creating snackable content; that's how we look at the communication we develop. Multiple copies, different contexts and situations, make for more relatable touch points for the brand to engage with," replies Sehgal, adding, "The strategy for Pulse has always been true to replaying stories of the brand we've heard and experienced ourselves. Pulse is a much-loved brand and this makes unearthing stories easier, but the complexity lies in choosing the story to bring to life."
Currently, Pulse is available in five variants - Kachcha Aam, Guava, Orange, Pineapple, and Litchi. The candy is enjoyed across all ages because of its flavoured combinations - 18-34 years (SEC A, B and C) living in Tier 1 and Tier 2 cities, including college students (18-22 years) and young working/homemakers (23-34 years).
"As the brand evolves, we shall further explore new flavours and product formats. Our latest offering - Pulse Zero - is the first sugar-free, no-salt candy in the country," informs Surana.
Sour candy's sweet story
Pulse rides on the robust channel network of the DS Group and is currently available pan-India at paan-plus outlets, mom and pop stores, and online and retail outlets through direct and indirect coverage. The brand's growth rates are in conjunction with the industry's growth. While Northern and Eastern India are better performing regions for Pulse, the brand is also doing well in the Southern and Western regions. Since 100 per cent product distribution is a daunting task for any FMCG brand, Pulse continuously makes up for the distribution gaps via extensive product placement and steady servicing.
Although the HBC segment has many established regional and non-branded 'me too' brands, consumer choices are driven by differentiated and innovative offerings. "The Pulse flavours appeal to the Indian palette and it is this segment that we are tapping into first through both online and offline distribution, spread across the globe. Apart from conventional channels, we are present on major online e-commerce websites nationally and our presence in the international markets is also expanding. Currently, we have footprints in the Middle East, South-East Asian Countries, the United Kingdom, the US and others," says Surana.
While TV continues to remain the primary medium for the Pulse candy ads, the brand is looking at a strong push for digital - since its TG is now digital-first. Also, other support mediums in the eco-system like POSMs (Point of Sales Materials), BTL activation and outdoor shall be tactically deployed for consumer acquisition and retention.
"In this highly competitive category, the challenge is to create TOM (top-of-mind) recall. For this, we stay connected regularly with our consumers through social media and have designed innovative ground promotions. These are coupled with sampling to harness interest and grow our consumer base," Surana adds.
A Tasty Treat?
We asked the experts if the 'irresistible flavour' of Pulse was successfully extended to the brand communication.
According to strategy consultant Lubna Khan, it is always a challenge to talk about a brand (as opposed to product features) in 10 seconds - but this campaign manages to meet the challenge well. "The irrationality of desire and its deliciously dark consequences are engagingly conveyed. I like the fact that it says something about us as humans, not just about the candy. While it feels like a continuation of the earlier series, there is an enrichment of Praan Jaye...," Khan says.
Talking about the execution, Khan adds, "There is a lot of possibility in the brand idea, so I do hope they move beyond 10-second videos to many more avenues of communication."
Jaideep Mahajan, nation creative head, Rediffusion says, "The brand has been doing very well in the market, even without much communication. These films, which are thoroughly entertaining and very well executed, should greatly enhance Pulse Candy's top-of-mind share and help it do even better with respect to sales."
Director (of the films): Shirish Daiya
Production House: Jamic Films
Creative Agency: J. Walter Thompson Company
1. Vice President & Execute Planning Director: Shujoy Dutta
2. Planning Director: Debasish Das
1. Executive Creative Directors: Sundeep Sehgal
2. Creative Director: Nishant Nanda & Kshitij Chandel
Girish Kant Singh
1. Vice President: Mukund Raina
2. Account Manager: Naman Joshi
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