Every brand has a story. How it's told makes the difference- Sunil Kataria, COO, Godrej Consumer Products


Mr. Sunil Kataria, Chief Operating Officer, Sales, Marketing and SAARC at Godrej Consumer Products Pvt. Ltd., is of the opinion that a brand tells its story by interacting with the consumers and the role of the marketers is to make that story telling process relevant to them. A brand reinvents itself when its story remains fresh, compelling and relevant through the years.

The story of Cinthol is a classic. The brand, which was first launched in 1952, has reinvented itself multiple times in these 62 years. This unique green coloured bar of soap with red wrapping has remained the same through the years but for some minor tweaking. The brand has not compromised on its quality since the beginning and hence enjoys a premium in price over its competitors in the tough FMCG market. In the early years the brand was known for its macho image. 1985 saw the launch of a ‘new Cinthol’ with changed packaging, shape and deodorizing fragrance. The brand was associated with alpha male celebrities including actor Vinod Khanna and former cricketer Imran Khan. The brand propagated an image of confidence and youth and hence came to be known as premium soap for the young.

The year 1996 saw the launch of a new Cinthol Fresh Lime variant and the brand broadened its appeal to lure masses, it became more family oriented and was aimed towards parents and young children. This campaign brought with it huge success and strong growth for the brand as now the product had become accessible to the masses. However, in 2007 the brand went back to its roots with a campaign which was again youth oriented in order to recreate the active and young imagery. The new brand ambassador of Cinthol, actor Hritik Roshan became an icon of confidence and youth to re establish the Cinthol values.

In 2012 the brand saw its greatest reinvention. According to Mr. Kataria, “India has undergone a huge socio-economic and cultural shift from the victim mentality to that of being affluent. The mentality of people has shifted from being social to individual and from settled to being exploratory. ” The ‘I’ generation is that of dreamers, they are all about experiencing new things and exploring different parts of their being and hence with this cultural shift it was time to reinvent the brand to fit the change. The youth no longer connects to celebrities like it did back in 1980’s. Instead of the screen aura of the celebrities, the youth now relates to their real side and the vulnerability of the former resonates with the youth. The brand therefore reinvented itself through the “Alive is Awesome” campaign. Cinthol went through a complete makeover. It launched vibrant and bold coloured soaps, talcs and deos with cool and strong fragrance. The idea behind this makeover was to build the feeling of ‘awesome and larger than life’ experience. Bathing, as a metaphor, was repositioned from being a daily activity to a much larger experience. The brand used young non-celebrities for their campaign and increased investment on digital media. The medium of twitter and blogosphere was used to connect with the youth and they were asked to describe and share their ‘awesome’ getaways and adventures.

Finally, the brand launched cricketer Virat Kohli as its ambassador and the youth icon was launched not in his cricketer avatar but instead as his real self. Cinthol launched a digital led campaign with #InViratsHead as the teaser and did general traction on twitter to drive conversations about what the youth thought went on inside Virat Kohli’s mind in the dressing room, before he went on to the field. Another interesting experiential marketing tool that the brand employed was the personal replies to the conversations and tweets by Virat himself. A film of the cricketer was launched on the digital media solely which depicted an ‘intensely alive’ imagery. Post the launch the brand began a ‘relish the challenge’ campaign on social media which resulted in the expansion of its Facebook fan base. 85 bloggers participated in this challenge and 750 blogs were written. The brand promises to keep reinventing itself with the changing times.

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Cinthol godrej innovation Reinvention Sunil Kataria

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