On a fine Monday morning on August 26th 2011, work was at its peak at the Kolkata Head office of Emami Ltd. Mr. Subir Sen (Sen) was sitting at his desk with an advertisement running on his desktop which showed actor Amitabh Bachchan (Amitabh), the brand ambassador of Emami. Sen had completed his MBA in Marketing from the ICM, Calcutta, and had joined Emami Ltd. under the Boroplus brand as a Brand Executive. The advertisement he was watching showed Amitabh in a crisp white kurta applying a white dot on his cheeks. This was followed by a visual of various parts of India, right from Kashmir (North) to Kanyakumari (South) and Rajasthan (West) to West Bengal (East). The ad went on to show that people from all origin were applying the white dot on their cheeks. The whole clip was made more attractive with melodious background music whose lyrics were ‘Lagate Hain Safed Teeka’ (means: apply the white dot). The white dot/streak was the “Safed Teeka” of Boroplus Antiseptic Cream, a flagship brand of the Emami Ltd. The tagline of the ad went on to say ‘Boroplus ka safed teeka, taki sardi ki nazar na lage’ which means Boroplus white streak would prevent one from the evil effects of cold. The ad was a part of a new campaign where Emami was planning to try out a new advertising strategy (Refer Exhibit I for the ad storyboard). The commercial made Sen ponder over the objective which led to the creation of the ‘Safeed Teeka’ campaign. As a newcomer, Sen had been given two responsibilities.
He had been doing a competitor analysis for the winter cream category as a part of his research which was to investigate “The communication plan of Boroplus”. Mr. Sen was also given the task to suggest a new and an effective communication plan for Boroplus Antiseptic Cream (BPAC) for winter of 2011 and in order to do so he needed insights on the past communication strategy and the present communication objectives. He got immersed into the origins and growth of Boroplus.
The parent company of BPAC, the Emami Limited was one of the most renowned Fast Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG) companies in India in the first decade of the new millennium. The company had a humble background dating back to 1974 when two childhood friends R.S. Goenka (Goenka) and R.S. Agarwal (Agarwal) quit their high profile jobs at to start Kemco chemicals in Eastern India. The company was set up with an initial seed capital of INR 20,000. The company was into medicinal and cosmetic products. The first products from the company namely, Emami Talcum Powder, Emami Vanishing cream and Emami Cold cream became favorites of the quality conscious middle class in the mid seventies. In 1978, a company called Himani based in Eastern India became a sick unit, and Agarwal decided to purchase this company as he saw a future prospect in the company. He decided to use this sick unit for producing products based on Ayurvedic preparations.
Both Agarwal and Goenka saw a huge potential in the antiseptic cream segment where there were only a few brands were available. So in 1982, they launched Boroplus Antiseptic Cream (BPAC), the flagship brand of the company. This was an afterthought as both owners saw a potential untapped market in the antiseptic cream category at the all India level. The name was derived from Boric Acid which was a base ingredient for most antiseptic cream. Boroplus was launched in direct competition with Boroline, an antiseptic cream by G.D.Pharmaceuticals in Kolkata. Boroline was the then leader in the market and Boroplus took a few years to get recognition among the masses. The initial years were tedious as the owners themselves used to carry the products on handheld carts to various retailers for selling, but with time, the product gained popularity. Boroplus was one of the few FMCG brands of pre-liberalization India to launch a mass media advertising campaign. After the...