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A heart-warming story from P&G’s Vicks looks at motherhood with a difference

The campaign, conceptualised by Publicis Singapore, is the real life story of an orphan girl, Gayatri, and her transgender mother Gauri

Click on the Image to watch the TVC.

6 Pack Band won big this awards season, taking the national and international awards circuit by storm. Not only was the idea appreciated but the approach it took towards a contentious issue in India, the LGBT community, was lauded too.

P&G’s new communication for Vicks also talks about the ostracisation and social stigma that the transgender community has to face, albeit a little differently. While the 6 pack band did not mince their words when it came to sending across their message, the ‘Touch of Care’ campaign is subtler and tells the real life story of an orphan girl, Gayatri, and her transgender mother Gauri.

Conceptualised by Publicis Singapore, the story is told in first person by Gayatri herself. Gayatri, who is on her way to a boarding school, begins the story by saying that her ‘mummy’ will be disappointed with her. Gayatri’s ‘mummy’ who was thrown out of her house by her father when she was only 18 wants Gayatri to be a doctor. Gayatri then embarks on her story, saying she has never seen her father and how her biological mother died when she was very young. She then meets her ‘mummy’, who takes her in and raises her as her own child. It is then that we are introduced to Gayatri’s ‘mummy’ Gauri. Gauri is a transgender woman who has cared for Gayatri despite the hardships she has had to face in her life. The film ends with Gayatri saying that despite her mother’s wish to make her a doctor, she wants to be a lawyer so that she can fight for equal rights for her ‘mummy’.

“Vicks has always been about the gentle touch of a mother’s care, as she caresses and gives relief to her child. With the #TouchOfCare campaign we are going a step further and expounding the importance of care beyond just the traditional perception of family. The campaign shows how people who, though not connected by blood, end up being family through care itself,” said Nitin Darbari, Chairman and CEO, P&G Teva JV China, Marketing Director Asia, Middle East and Africa.

Speaking about how great brands set agendas in culture at large, Ed Booty, Chief Strategy Officer, Publicis Communications APAC, said, “Great brands don’t just reflect safe and accepted norms, instead they dare to set agendas in culture at large. That is our ambition with this work for Vicks – to give the timeless idea of family care a fresh and contemporary meaning.”

Stressing on the importance of inclusiveness, Neeraj Ghaywan, Film Director, said, “It was an immensely gratifying and inspiring experience to put together Gauri and Gayatri’s story. #TouchOfCare questions our conventional understanding of a mother and what constitutes a family. In a contemporary society, it is essential for us to be inclusive of everyone and accept the universality of care with love and empathy. And the best way to begin that would be the most basic human emotion of all– a mother’s care.”

Peer views

While the movie does a good job of tugging the heartstrings of the audience, does it work for the brand?

Ambarish Ray, Director and Chief Operating Officer, Metal Communication, and Vipin Dhyani, Founder and Chief Creative Director, Thoughtshop Advertising & Film Productions, both feel that while the ad film is beautifully crafted, the brand connect is lost somewhere.

“While the film is interesting and certainly, the subject it is dealing with is a relevant and crucial one, that of equal rights for all, I cannot fathom the connection with Vicks. More and more, as a developing tendency, we are seeing brands latch on to social, political and other life issues by taking a stand and being vocal. With of course the new sanction that ‘content’ allows through social media and new screen consumption. Is it adding any value to the consumer’s life? Is there always even a clear and real (albeit, slightly stretched) connect between what the brand stands for and what it is saying? Am not sure — which is actually a polite way of saying ‘I don’t think so’,” said Ray.

“First, let’s talk about the plus points of the film. It is a human interest story. In fact, it is based on a true story. Writing for the background narration, characters, cinematography, direction, everything is brilliant in the film. My only concern is about the ‘authorship’ of the communication. I believe there is a clear difference between fine art and commercial art. In fine art, you can make an abstract painting and can sell it in trillions but in commercial art (read advertising), right after watching a sweet story like this, consumers tend to seek who is saying it. Now with this current trend of long story format, we have seen only few good numbers which are absolutely bang on with product’s context and winning people’s heart. Fortune oil’s ‘Ghar ka khana, ghar ka hota hai’, Mcdowell’s ‘Ye number 1 yaari hai’, Urban Ladder’s ‘The homecoming’ and Internationally J&J’s ‘Thank you mom’ are few appropriate examples to prove the point that in advertising business, a good story looks even better with the right product context or significance,” said Dhyani.

Fortune oil:


Urban Ladder:

Shivil Gupta Executive Creative Director, Dentsu Impact, also appreciated the ad and said that it might not win awards but it sure won hearts.

“It’s good that more and more brands are coming forward to not only understand, but do their bit towards society, rather than only selling a product. This ad is a wonderful illustration of that cause. However, don’t be disheartened if this impactful piece of work fails to please the international juries.”

The TVC: 


Agency: Publicis Singapore

Chief Creative Officer: Ajay Thrivikraman

Creative team: Jocelyn Chabanis and Eugene Pua

Account management: Floriane Tripolino and Prachi Partagalkar

Account Planning: Ed Booty

Production house: SeeOn

Director (film): Neeraj Ghaywan

Producer: Deepa Limaye

Director of photography: Manoj Kumar Khatoi

Tags: P&G Vicks
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