Vicks, the medications brand, sought to change its image and appeal to young consumers in India by rethinking the idea of a traditional family, according to a senior executive at Procter & Gamble, the brand’s parent company.

According to P&G’s associate marketing director of healthcare for IMEA, Maithreyi Jagannathan, the brand had stuck to the same time-tested formula with consumer communications for many years.

“Very few brands have the luxury of having such a powerful memory being dedicated to the brand,” Jagannathan said recently at the Spikes Asia festival in Singapore. (For more, read WARC’s in-depth report: How Vicks rebooted its brand with ‘Touch of Care’ in India.)

“The memory is entrenched in care and entrenched in a very strong bonding moment with the mother, and that is what the brand is all about… That has been a conscious choice for us that we’ve chosen to remain consistent over all these years. That is the reason why today, when you think of the brand, a certain imagery comes to your mind,” she said.

But sticking with what worked in the past was keeping the Vicks brand from appealing to new generations, especially in India where social and cultural change saw traditional notions of family and community evolving.

By turning around Vicks’ brand premise from that of ‘family that cares’ to a more universally transformative note – that of ‘care that makes for family’ – Vicks reframed its traditional representation of family in India by featuring a transgender mother who adopted her daughter.

Sales increased by 31% for VapoRub, Vicks’ flagship product, while Vicks Cough Drops and Action 500 tablets also saw sales skyrocket by 42% and 26% respectively. Sales growth was 16 times higher in the subsequent cough and cold season of 2017 compared to 2016.

“What we saw was a complete surprise to us. We saw a halo effect on awareness and across other brand product forms,” said Jagannathan.

“The longest form ad in a campaign we had done before was 30 seconds. (With) a three-and-a-half minute video, all of us were like, ‘What are we going to do right now?’. (But) the ROI we generated was enormous, because a lot of it was organic.”

Sourced from WARC