HUL gets Mumbai vendors to wrap bhelpuri in leaflets featuring Pepsodent ad
MUMBAI: When Vishal Thakkar bought four packets of bhelpuri from a roadside vendor in Mumbai late last month, they all came wrapped in similar green colour papers with children's drawings and messages about brushing teeth and fighting germs, bringing a smile to his face. Only when he found the same eye-catching design on the paper cone in his next 'chaat outing' did Thakkar realise it wasn't a coincidence.
It was part of a marketing campaign by Hindustan Unilever for its or oral care brand Pepsodent. India's largest consumer products firm has tied up with around 48 bhelpuri walas across Mumbai, asking them to wrap their popular roadside snack in leaflets of Pepsodent's campaign about fighting germs and brushing twice a day.
"The idea was, 'how can we spread the oral care message to adults in a manner that is relevant for them?' Bhel is a popular evening snack and that is the time to tell adults to brush twice a day," said Atul Sinha, category head for oral care at HUL. Marketing experts say such initiatives create a bigger impact than promoting brands through paid media channels.
"At a very low cost, you get high recall and people talk about it. So the engagement quotient is high too," said Alpana Parida, president at brand strategy firm DY Works. She considers HUL's initiative as part of 'earned media', which means creating a buzz by virtue of your own action.This is not the first time HUL has come up with such an innovative idea to take its message directly to consumers.
A year ago, at the Kumbh Mela, it stamped 'Did you wash your hands with Lifebuoy?' message in Hindi onto millions of rotis in a campaign that was awarded the Grand Effie as well as Bronze Lion at Cannes earlier this year.
Last year, Coca-Cola came out with its 'Small World Machines' campaign that allowed consumers in a mall in New Delhi to interact with those in a mall in Lahore through high-tech Coca-Cola vending machines with 3D touchscreen, and it followed it up with a commercial with visuals of some of these interactions.
HUL started its Pepsodent campaign about brushing twice a day early last year. It teamed up with over 1.5 lakh kids across schools who expressed their creativity through paintings to promote the message. The leaflet distributed through bhelpuri walas carries one of these paintings.
Now, HUL plans to launch an advertisement based on the whole campaign, from tying up with schoolchildren to using the leaflets for wrapping bhelpuri. The company plans to launch this commercial digitally before airing it on television, hoping that it will go viral.
Hindustan Unilever has been trying to improve its share in the Rs 6,000-crore oral care market, which is dominated by Colgate with market share of 54.3%. HUL is a distant second with roughly 24% share. The sector is seeing increased competition and aggressive advertising spends, especially after the entry of Procter & Gamble.