East meets West POVs

#TouchofCare - Brands as a Force for Good

Written by Matthew Powers

For my first Cannes POV, I am touching on the theme of ‘East Meets West’, the globalization of Asian culture in the world and media. Today, this was highlighted in the session “#TouchofCare - Brands as a Force for Good”. Ajay Vikram, CCO of Publicis Singapore, and Maithreyi Jagannathan, Healthcare AMD at P&G India, discussed some of Vicks’ most successful campaigns on their “Touch of Care” platform. This platform is used to promote the Vicks brand by telling powerful stories about human issues in the region.

When thinking about Vicks, everyone has a memory of their parent using their products to care for them as a child. This is a powerful equity, so Vicks uses #TouchOfCare to build that family brand equity for the future. But there are still challenges on the horizon. “While being ubiquitous is a strength, we also see it as a challenge for reinvention,” Jagannathan stated. Asian parents have over 700 health care brands to choose from, so even the most established brand can be lost in the noise.

For me, this relates to my work on Volvo, as we are seen ubiquitously as the “safe car”, but we are challenged to expand upon that pillar to grow the brand, using it to our advantage in an innovative way.

“If we can’t change what we stand for, or why everyone loves us, nor the product, what can we do?”, Ajay Vikram asked.

For Vicks, they utilized their entrenched family equity and spun it on its head to uncover their insight. If families are what Vicks is known for, they had to expand the idea of what a family is to capture more consumers. With the urbanization of Asia, there are new types of families to add to the consumer set. Now, the family you may spend the most time with may not be your actual blood line. Instead of “family = care”, they see it now as “care = family”. Those you help and care for are now your family, since families are now so unique.

In one #TouchOfCare film, a young orphan girl in India with a rare skin disease is abandoned by her mother but has found her home with a loving adopted family who use Vicks vapor rub to soothe her skin. These stories are not focused on the brand, but focus on empowering a singular, authentic voice for an inspiring result.

My favorite showcase was through a content project they did with Gauri Sawant, a transgender activist in India. They touched on the stigma of transgendered motherhood and how that is a new beautiful form of family that Vicks is now empowering with their products. When it was shot a few years ago, trans people were still fighting for their rights in India. Just with brave, yet simple inclusion pieces like this focused on the subject, they were able to drive massive brand growth for Vicks, making them jump to the top 10 of most trusted brands in India with YoY sales growth in the double digits.

We see the idea of Asian leads or trans inclusivity as a risk, but what they proved is that it’s something the audience is hungry for. It’s our job as marketers to expand upon our audience not by changing our story, but by telling more people.