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Horlicks shows importance of ‘emotional nutrition’

Swati Bhattacharya, CCO of FCB Ulka, has put her heart and soul into a new digital film which talks about how a mother’s support during exam times relieves kids of stress

Click on the Image to watch the TVC.

As we grow up and look back in time, we realise that a mere recall of our examination days still gives us the jitters. The pressure to perform well in exam had been always there, but it has mounted multiple-fold in present times due to increased competition.

I remember how my mother used to set alarms to wake me up early in the morning and used to give me my required share of nutrition through milk, soup, fruits and dry fruits at regular intervals. More than all these, what gave more energy to sit long for hours to study was the emotional support that I got from my mother.

Horlicks, the health drink brand from GSK, recently launched a digital film that emphasises the importance of emotional nutrition. The film is the brainchild of FCB Ulka’s Chief Creative Officer, Swati Bhattacharya. After the big win of Horlicks last year, FCB’s big idea for the brand has been to create work around emotional nutrition.

The Film:

Bhattacharya said, “I had put this idea when I pitched for the account and Jayant (Jayant Singh, Global Lead, Nutrition and Digestive Health Category, GSK Consumer Healthcare) totally resonated with it and he knows how hard it is. The brand is talking about emotional nutrition in the film and it is something that is going to be the big idea now onwards. Even after being such a big nutrition giant, it’s really good on GSK’s end to do something like this.”

The digital film features real mothers and their kids studying in a coaching institute in Kota and staying in hostels away from home. Horlicks planned a surprise for the kids by sending the moms to meet their kids in the hostel. Bhattacharya said that the film was shot over four days, but the planning and getting addresses of the parents took around a month or so.

Swati Bhattacharya

Talking about how Bhattacharya landed on the insight, she said, “We found out from our research that the most stressed out place in India for students is Kota. I once read a big headline in a newspaper in 2017 summer that how Kota hostels will have ceiling fans with springs and that’s when I got curious about Kota. Therefore, I thought, if we have to do something about fearlessness, then the place should be Kota.”

She further said, “Students in Kota have access to the best faculty and world-class facilities, but they’re missing a fundamental need that is as biological as the need for vitamins. We’ve termed this ‘emotional nutrition’, and ‘Fearless Kota’ is our way of showing its power.”

Kota is the biggest hub of the coaching centres for India's toughest entrance examinations. Every year, over 1.5 lakh students arrive in Kota, leaving their homes in the hope that with expert guidance and sustained hard work they will be able to crack these exams.

With heavy financial investments and pain of leaving family behind, children often find themselves in a stressful environment where there is competition all around and getting a good rank is all that matters in the world. This stress leads to the phobia of exams, fear of failure and ultimately depression. In some cases, it forces children to take extreme measures to end their lives. Over the years, the number of students committing suicide has been on a rise.

Bhattacharya mentioned, “The making of this ad has been emotional for the whole team. We got attached to the kids and mothers’ stories while shooting. It’s so sad that even when they have visitors, it is usually the fathers who come. So, for a lot of mothers, it was the first time. Also, the impact of the mum’s visit is also too much. I wish I could have just made them stay with the kids for a month or so.”

As part of the extension of the campaign, Horlicks will also start with a free courier service for the mothers to send anything to their kids studying in the Kota hostels.

Vikram Bahl

Vikram Bahl, Area Marketing Lead, Nutrition & Digestive health, GSK Consumer Healthcare India, said, “Horlicks, as a brand has always aimed at providing students with necessary nutrition to achieve more. Through the ‘Fearless Kota’ film, we wanted to highlight that along with a healthy body, a healthy mind is equally important to perform, hence the right emotional nutrition is needed for children to overcome the fear of exams. The film captures the belief that a mother’s love is the best dose of emotional nutrition that helps a child overcome stress and face exams fearlessly.”

In the recent past also, we have seen a few more brands working on the lines of exams pressure and emotional support for students living in the hostels away from home.

Putting below a few examples:

Mirinda’s release The Pressure

Fortune Mother Exchange

Tata Tea Jaago Re film on exam pressure

Asked if it’s a latest trend among brands to take up such a cause, to which Bhattacharya said, “Horlicks was the first brand to take up the cause 10 years back we did a campaign ‘Exam ka Bhoot bhagao.’. We were the first people who started the helpline, having child psychiatrists. Therefore, it’s a continued thing.”

The brand recently launched a TV ad on the lines of being fearless in the exams.


Client: GSK

Creative Agency: FCB Ulka

CCO: Swati Bhattacharya

Creative Team: Abhijeet Ray, Gayatri Sriram, Shailesh Khandeparkar

Account Management: Debarpita Banerjee Jyotsana Singh Kaushik, Yaman Gogia, Vishakha Khattri

Director (of the TVC): Dhruv Grover

Exécutive Producer: Aanchal Bhargava, Anshul Jain

Production House: Onions Creative Media

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