Hand-wash Wars: Dettol, Lifebuoy and Savlon

Views expressed in the blog are my own. They may skew towards my exposure as a male based out of Delhi. If you feel there has been an oversight, or if you would like to contribute, please do write in to me here.

Earlier this year when India was reporting its initial few COVID -19 cases, Lifebuoy released an ‘ad’ in a leading national daily. It was first of the many to come from the Personal hygiene category.

A consumer sentiment study by Kantar quotes 4/5 individuals expect brands to help them adjust to the new normal.

To be honest, the Hygiene category has not had a better chance to explain themselves. Their advertising now doesn’t need to speak what they do. There is a massive pull and a relevant context is already in place.

Both market leaders — Dettol and Lifebuoy are leading this with some very interesting campaigns, Homemade ad films, Tik-Tok challenges, Hand-washing ad-breaks, and a lot of TV ads.

Dettol’s ad film; shot without people having to step out of their homes

One brand I was particularly interested to follow was Savlon. ITC acquired it from Johnson & Johnson 5 years ago, for a hefty ~Rs. 200 Cr.
Savlon is focused to become Rs. 500 Cr brand by 2023.

The brand has been ticking most boxes in the 4P’s of Marketing, especially on the ‘Promotion’ aspect.
They have delivered some really fantastic (also award-winning) work under their Savlon Swasth Mission.

Chalk Sticks, ID Guard are some very interesting campaigns by ITC’s Savlon

I was curious to see what ITC’s Rs. 500 Cr contender will come out with.
This opportunity is a golden catalyst for any hygiene/ healthcare brand to turntables, convey their why, and earn a lifetime loyalty from the consumer.

Savlon’s ad film

Unfortunately, Savlon fails to impress on both creative or media execution, and here was why;

This integration for instance,

Would have looked impressive on an excel sheet.
1) A top news channel = Quick reach
2) Laptop + Logo bug = Good frequency builders

Only until you realize…

  1. The Orange Can on the news-desk is not a Volini spray, but Savlon’s surface disinfectant.
  2. The Air-cooler brand has nothing to do with Savlon or its products.
  3. The logo bug on bottom: someone paid for this!?

Compared to Dettol’s integration on NDTV,

Dettol did some interesting integrations including impactful logo bugs and news highlight sponsorships.

…feels much more coherent and impactful.

So far, Savlon’s efforts seem to be firefights against the competition.
Definitely, it will only be the sales numbers that quantify how these brands really stack up against each other.

Dell beautifully communicates its ‘WHY’

Marketing, Coffee and Formula 1 keep me up at night.