Olivia Parker
Oct 11, 2018

New Vicks campaign could mark Publicis' awards comeback, says creative chief

As Vicks' second 'Touch of Care' video for India goes viral, Bruno Bertelli talks cyber-bullying, China, and the value of a good creative today.

As Publicis Singapore launches a poignant new campaign for P&G’s Vicks in India, the agency’s global chief creative head praises Asian creative work for lacking the “cynicism” that characterises campaigns from other regions, preventing them from prompting more emotional responses.

The new film, which has notched up more than 1.2 million views since its release on Tuesday, tells the true story of Nisha Lobo, a teenage girl who was born with the incurable skin condition ichthyosis. Nisha was abandoned when she was two weeks old and adopted by a caring couple, Aloma and David Lobo. Under the message ‘every child deserves the touch of care’, the film seeks to highlight that out of almost 30 million orphans in India, very few with disabilities have a chance of finding a home.

“I’m quite superstitious but I think it’s going to score well and perform very well in all the awards. Really emotional, very surprising and a true story,” Bruno Bertelli, the agency's global creative chief, said of the #TouchofCare campaign, which is the second in the series in India and the third overall (see our previous coverage here), in an interview with Campaign Asia-Pacific

Bruno Bertelli

The campaign “scored the maximum” at the ‘creative council’ attended recently by Bertelli in Singapore, where he travelled from his base in Italy. This is a session in which Publicis bosses start planning for the next Cannes Lions and other awards ceremonies; and given Publicis’s cost-saving boycott of the festival this year, next year brings extra pressure to submit good work.

While Bertelli has much praise for other campaigns from the region, saying he likes to hire creatives from here to work in Europe and vice versa, to encourage the mixing of different perspectives, he admits that creativity in China is still “quite local” and needs work.

“I think the way to tackle China is to get stronger in terms of strategy,” says Bertelli. “I see a lot of briefs focus on the product benefit or product performances, but I think modern communication is more focused on brand purpose. I think advertising today is not about selling anymore, it’s about inspiring people and engaging, finding a way to be interesting.”

Having occupied the global role for two years now, Bertelli says his main priority—and the key to success in communications today—is preserving and protecting a brand’s consistency all over the world, while simultaneously trying to make campaigns locally relevant.

He gives the example of Heineken, one of five or six global Publicis clients that Bertelli personally works on himself. “The strength of the brand is the tone of voice, that wittiness and humour. But now we are trying to make it much more relevant locally.” Insights on consumer behavior can be completely different from place to place, he says: in China, for example, the growing popularity of karaoke creates a very specific target audience and moment of consumption.

Bertelli says it’s more important than ever today for a brand to take a stand and become something people can believe in. For Diesel, for example, another Publicis client he works on, the challenge has been to find a way to talk to the consumers through the clothes in a relevant way. Diesel and Publicis Italy recently launched a new collection called ‘Hate Couture’ to tackle cyber bullying. It features celebrities wearing clothes emblazoned with the worst names they have been called by online trolls. The singer Nicki Minaj, for example, sports a coat with the slogan ‘The Bad Guy’ written down it. Actor Tommy Dorfman wears a jacket covered in the word ‘Faggot’. Diesel stores, meanwhile, were graffiti sprayed with the slogan ‘Diesel is Dead’, a charge once levelled at the brand.

Two ads from Diesel's 'Hate Couture' campaign

“Diesel has a position always to challenge conformity,” says Bertelli, explaining the thinking behind the campaign. “Actually this hate behavior is becoming a conformity. So the starting point was that when you get some hate comments, if you keep it inside, it becomes bigger, it grows and it hurts more. So actually a way, you know, to make it disappear, is to show it off. It’s a way to discharge it.”

Until the end of the year, Bertelli’s focus will be on developing a new campaign for Heineken and starting global work on Mercedes. But switching between such huge global accounts has never been a problem, he says. "I have always been quite good at that. The value of a good creative today has nothing to do with coming up with ideas. It’s really understanding the brand and especially the tone of voice of the brand. Today, tone of voice is everything.”


Creative Agency: Publicis Singapore
Chief Creative Officer: Ajay Thrivikraman
Creative team: Mihir Dhairyawan, Eugene Pua, Jocelyn Chabanis
Account management: Natalie VanderVorst, Prachi Partagalkar, Jessica Geli, Maninder Bali
Account Planning: Ed Booty
Other Credits: Vanessa Chua, Adli Jumat
Director (film): Anand Gandhi
Production house: Offroad Films
Agency Producer: Lolita Ham, Deepa Limaye
PR Agency: 20:20 MSL India

P&G, VICKS India
Vice President, Asia-IMEA Personal Healthcare. Asia Pacific Oral Care: Sujay Wasan
Regional Associate Brand Director, P&G HealthCare Asia: Maithreyi Jagannathan
Country Marketing Manager, Vicks India: Ritu Mittal

Campaign Asia

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