Matthew Miller
Sep 27, 2018

How 'Touch of care' solved Vicks' invisibility issue

How valuable can a daring campaign be for a well established brand? Vicks and Publicis Singapore spelled it out at Spikes.

L-R: Maithreyi Jagannathan, Ajay Vikram
L-R: Maithreyi Jagannathan, Ajay Vikram

In 2017 Vicks debuted a campaign called 'Touch of care' in India, with a touching story of a young woman talking about her mom—who happened to be a transgender woman (see "Vicks focuses on the 'Touch of care' in India"). The brand followed that up in 2018 in the Philippines with the story of a man who unexpectedly locates his nurturing side (see "Vicks brings 'Touch of care' to Philippines").

On day 2 at Spikes Asia 2018, Maithreyi Jagannathan, associate marketing director for health care in IMEA for Procter & Gamble, and Ajay Vikram, CCO of Publicis Singapore, explained the impetus for the work, and how it has paid off.

While Vicks had an enviable history and reputation in both markets, it faced an "out of sight, out of mind" issue, Jagannathan said. Bought and then set aside in a cabinet, and perceived as "your grandmother's brand", the company wanted instead to be more top-of-mind.

However, avenues such as product innovation aren't available when you're talking about a 128-year-old, trusted brand, Vikram said. 

"As always, we found our answer in culture, in the world, and in the people around us," he said. After focusing in on the idea that 'family' is no longer defined solely by blood ties, the team tried to write some stories to reflect that idea, but struggled. So they turned to real life. "We couldn't make up these stories even if we tried," Vikram said. "We simply opened our eyes to the world around us."


The work has won a bevy of awards, including some Spikes a year ago. Even at today's session, both films brought tears to many eyes. And both films received strong and positive receptions in their countries. Vikram pointed in particular to the very strong sharing statistic in india, shown here: 

But did it pay off for the brand? Jagannathan said it did, beyond any expectations. And she shared the following stats as proof. In addition to overall year-on-year sales growth, she particularly called attention to the observed "priming" effect...
...and strong category growth: 

It helped that while there was risk (both because of the subject matter and the fact that the brand had never done anything long-form before), the media investment was actually low, Jagannathan said. 

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