Dabur’s Pudin Hara at Meerut’s Nauchandi Mela – 2017, 2018 and a brilliant change of perspective in 2019

I have grown up liking and thinking positively about Dabur’s Pudin Hara, because my dad was, and is, a huge fan of the product. And the brand has been one of the early advertisers on TV, with the Doordarshan ads reiterating its efficacy during my growing up years.

Now, though, I have moved on to Eno, because of the sheer convenience factor (though Pudin Hara also has an Eno-like Fizz pack) and mostly because of Eno’s Cola flavor 🙂 Pudin Hara also is one of the few mint-based products that is NOT blue – it is the desi, natural green. I suppose the Western influence of coloring anything ‘mint’ as blue came much later into India, even as we were sure that anything ‘mint’ should be green because the most natural source of mint is the humble pudhina plant that we have all grown up with and use day-in and day-out.

So, when I came across what is now being called The Pudin Hara song, I watched it once, and then many more times, to first soak in what was going on. And there is something interesting going on.

To start with, this was not Dabur’s (or Pudin Hara’s) first engagement with UP’s Nauchandi Mela. They had the same mega-sized bottle as an on-ground activation in 2017 (see: Ruralmarketing | Eventfaqs) and 2018 too! But, all this on-ground interaction was conceived with the mela’s offline audience as the primary target audience in both those years. The result? The mela audience engaged with the brand in the ‘Thandak Zone’ under the bottle and the online mentions were targeted at trade and marketing audience, not at the consumer audience.

This year, the mega-sized bottle is back, once again. But Dabur did something completely different this year – they set their vision beyond the on-ground mela audience and turned what was just-another on-ground activation into an active online experience for the entire world to consume.

So, a couple of actors who could fit in with the rest of the Nauchandi Mela crowd became the anchor for the communication meant to go beyond the on-ground audience (who continue to engage with the brand at the Thandak Zone, as usual). And unlike earlier years where ordinary people who stumbled into the Thandak Zone were asked to say a few words about the ‘experience’ (of drinking Pudin Hara? You got to be kidding me!) so visibly uncomfortably, the whole experience sharing was made into a relatable love story. Interestingly, quite a few ordinary (actual) people come into the video too, but they look completely natural in the flow of the music video, unlike last year’s showcase where they seem forced (to utter something).

Most importantly, unlike any antacid, digestive product communication, there is no visible sign of discomfort in anyone’s face. The usual template is – food-upset stomach-solution-happy face. The Pudin Hara song video is a happy song, through and through, but the connection between Pudin Hara and LOTS of oily (very desi, very tempting!!) food is made more than adequately. The connection is very simple and at a visceral level – if you are surrounded by a lot of Indian food, make sure Pudin Hara is around. The digestive problems and upset stomach are left to the audience’s imagination, rightly so, because the song’s structure has no place for that.

If you see last year’s video showcase of what Pudin Hara did at Nauchandi Mela, it looks more like the video version of a Powerpoint presentation.

And that’s where the 2019 video’s true brilliance come through – the brand roped in an actual, well-known band (Faridkot) to be the voice of the online communication. Result? An ear-worm’ish melody that you cannot overlook at all. Realizing the power of the catchy song, the brand has also smartly made it available on streaming platforms like Spotify!

This is extremely well done by Dabur. The true brilliance is making purposeful use of what is just an on-ground activation into something that the whole world can enjoy (consume), as interesting content. Now, a much larger set of people know about Nauchandi Mela, Pudin Hara’s engagement there and about the brand’s connection with LOTS of food. Unlike last year’s classroom’ish showcase, this year’s ‘presentation’ is entertaining.

This is a very, very smart change in perspective. There was no wrapping for the communication in the earlier years – it was presented as is, as if merely passing on functional information. The change in thinking is to wonder how to not just pass on functional information, but make it enjoyable to consume. While consuming that enjoyable communication, the audience also (on another layer) consumes product-related information, benefits etc. So, from “Our primary audience is the people who come to the mela” to “Our primary audience is any and every potential consumer in India”. But, to satisfy the second premise, it needs a shift in narrative strategy too.

People do not care about Pudin Hara, its benefits or what the brand did at Nauchandi Mela, regardless of how big the installation was (even if it attempted the Limca book of Record). Those are transactional information only meant for the brand, agency and award juries. People care only about what appeals to them. And Dabur roping in Faridkot to tell the story musically, and layering the visual love story on top makes all the difference.

Even this year, so many other brands have done their usual quota of on-ground activation and some of them are incidentally showcased in Dabur’s video too (I noticed Colors TV and TVS Sport bikes).

Colors Cineplex had even done what is being touted as Uttar Pradesh’s first solar-powered enabled theater called Electro. Whether it’d lead people to subscribe to that paid channel after seeing free movies on-ground is a different question. But the way this on-ground engagement was told to the rest of the world is akin to a documentary that literally starts with, ‘Meerut Shehar… Uttar Pradesh’, in all seriousness.

Even this year, so many other brands have done their usual quota of on-ground activation and some of them are incidentally showcased in Dabur’s video too (I noticed Colors TV and TVS Sport bikes). Colors Cineplex had even done what is being touted as Uttar Pradesh’s first solar-powered enabled theater called Electro. Whether it’d lead people to subscribe to that paid channel after seeing free movies on-ground is a different question. But the way this on-ground engagement was told to the rest of the world is akin to a documentary that literally starts with, ‘Meerut Shehar… Uttar Pradesh’, in all seriousness.

A minor digression: I noticed from the Colors Cineplex Electro showcase video that they were playing the Hindi-dubbed version of the Tamil film Singam (one of the 3 Singam series films). Thumbs up for national integration! 🙂

An incidental story I see here is the PR that Nauchandi Mela gets, via Pudin Hara’s popular video. I recall reading about how they were trying hard to rope in national brands to set up stalls, back in 2012. If they do blockbuster business next year, with a lot more brands setting up stalls and telling stories from the mela, they should thank Dabur and Pudin Hara for the success!

An incidental story I see here is the PR that Nauchandi Mela gets, via Pudin Hara’s popular video. I recall reading about how they were trying hard to rope in national brands to set up stalls, back in 2012. If they do blockbuster business next year, with a lot more brands setting up stalls and telling stories from the mela, they should thank Dabur and Pudin Hara for the success!

PS: Though Pudin Hara’s effort is being credited to the in-house team, I believe Sheeko, the content marketing agency, also had a hand in making this happen. So, kudos to them too!

Comments

comments