Aiming to build brand affinity, Colgate Maxfresh shifts gears to freshness that resolves morning goof ups: Anaswar Rajagopal

Speaking to, Anaswar Rajagopal, Director- Toothpaste (Family and Equity) Marketing, Colgate-Palmolive India, delved deeper into what went into the making of the newly launched non-celebrity-led campaign for the relaunch of Colgate Maxfresh, its media mix and further plans amongst others

Shreya Negi
New Update
Aiming to build brand affinity, Colgate Maxfresh shifts gears to freshness that resolves morning goof ups: Anaswar Rajagopal

Anaswar Rajagopal

With a brand name that has become almost synonymous with the toothpaste category at large in India, Colgate-Palmolive India has set in-stores its different products like Colgate Strong Teeth, Colgate Visible White and Colgate Maxfresh amongst others for nearly two decades now.

In the 20-year-long journey of the brand in the country, if there’s one thing that the brand focuses on the most is its ever-evolving nature and product innovation. As a result of the same, the brand has now relaunched in India what is said to be one of the most grossing flagship product- Colgate Maxfresh.

Having relaunched the product in a new avatar with changes in the constituent mix, Colgate Palmolive has also come up with its first non-celeb ad campaign for the product after onboarding Bollywood actor Ranveer Singh as its brand ambassador.

Speaking on the launch of the new non-celeb-led campaign, Anaswar Rajagopal, Director- Toothpaste (Family and Equity) Marketing, Colgate-Palmolive India, emphasised that the recently unveiled Dr. Sleep campaign for Colgate Maxfresh, which colloquially comes along as #NeendBhagaoTaazgiJagao, in a playful format for a brand is consumed by all cohorts, but is over-indexed in the younger cohort of people in the age group of 18 to 30 years.

The relaunched Colgate Maxfresh, in his views, provides a more instant, intense and sensorially pleasing experience of freshness compared to the earlier version and hence along with the product relaunch what has also happened is that the communication has also been refreshed.

“In the last five years’ branded communication, we have come up with ad campaigns that featured our brand ambassador, Ranveer Singh, and that has worked very well for that particular phase of the brand’s growth and journey. But this year, since we decided to move on to a different proposition where we did not see the fitment with him, we chose to depart from a contract standpoint with him,” he said.

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Further, he also pointed out that since the evolution of a brand’s journey requires building mental availability and memory structures, one may use a celebrity for a certain period of time as they play a crucial role in terms of driving recognition and fame amongst other things for the brand, if the proposition and what the celebrity stands for matches. Hence the earlier positioning of the brand which was all about energy and energising freshness for a very long time was aligning well with Singh’s persona.

But now, when the positioning moved to a slightly different territory of morning goof ups and funny mistakes people make in the morning while the energy quotient remains, the brand saw no proposition-celebrity fitment and hence decided to come up with a non-celeb led ad campaign.

“The goals and the proposition have changed a little bit, but the benefit remains the same- it is about energising freshness that wakes you up. But waking you up in the context of resolving morning goof-ups is a new insight and a new problem that we are solving in the lives of the consumer, unlike the earlier times when Colgate Maxfresh was all about freshness that wakes you up and gives you a lot of energy to maximise your day. Now we have made a detour in the proposition and entered into a space where we haven’t been before while we are still about freshness, but freshness that actually helps you resolve your morning goof ups,” he said.

Delving further into what went behind the making of the new brand film, he mentioned that since the brand’s marketing is all about the consumer and not about the product or its manufacturers, the thinking for the same has been rooted in understanding what is the job that the brand is going to do or the problem statement they aim to solve in the consumer's life.

And that problem statement in the case of Colgate Maxfresh is that when consumers wake up in the morning and have a sense of lethargy and grogginess since India is increasingly becoming sleep starved and people are not prioritising sleep as much as they should, what generally happens is that one tends to make innocent funny goof ups. The one thing that can wake up an individual in the morning is brushing his/her teeth with a toothpaste as sensorially freshening as a Colgate Maxfresh which has the potential to kick the sleep out of the person.

Keeping this in mind, the brand decided to take a fun and quirky consumer-centric approach of communicating propositions that are compelling and persuasive as that’s precisely the kind of communication which works best with the scale brand’s target consumers, i.e.- the younger people.

“The reason we innovate is because we want to constantly offer superior products to our consumers as that’s precisely where everything starts. Hence, if the consumer is getting a certain expectation of freshness, which today comes from a variety of categories such as chewing gums, bubble gums, etc. and toothpaste is just one of them, the expectations of freshness will keep changing which is why one needs to constantly go back to the consumers, in our case it is every month via in-depth interviews, focus group discussions, etc., to understand what does freshness mean for the consumer today and try to fulfill those unmet needs,” Rajagopal elaborated.

Similarly, for the approach taken for the advertising of the brand, he explained that the task for Colgate Palmolive India starts with what is the proposition that the brand wants to craft, i.e- the job to be done, within which the real key components are what is the consumer problem or the consumer insight to solve for and what is the benefit that the product and the brand can offer and how do the two come together.

“Simply put there is a consumer truth and there is a brand truth and the two have to come together. And as the two come together, that sweet spot is where you create a proposition, which is why in the case of Colgate Strong teeth, it is all about a toothpaste that not just cleans but also nourishes your teeth, and for Colgate Maxfresh, it is all about freshness and morning goof ups now,” he said.

Having said that, since Colgate Maxfresh is not just a scale brand but also a big component of the brand’s business in India, the brand has been very calibrated in setting out the marketing mix and media planning.

“We are singularly focused on driving reach and getting to as many consumers in our target cohort as possible and getting them exposure to our communication through multiple touch points such as TV, Outdoor, Print, Digital, Influencer campaigns, etc,” he stated.

Despite investing nationally owing to the pan-India consumption and scale of the brand, there are certain pockets which are slightly more important and are super critical for this particular relaunch of Colgate Max Fresh. As per Rajagopal, these markets include Maharashtra, Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, UP, Bihar, Jharkhand and Tamil Nadu as all of these markets are where either the brand or freshness as a need is very salient.

With this, he also touched upon how marketing has become much more challenging with the information economy as there are a plethora of sources of information available today which make data digesting, connecting the dots, identifying patterns and balancing personal experience with data and conversations to arrive at a conclusion or even unlearning and relearning, all the more challenging.

“It involves having a lot of curiosity and having a lot of humility because you have to be able to unlearn and let go of templatised thinking as much as possible while retaining the fundamentals and the ability to hold two contrarian ideas at the same time in your head and not subscribe to any one, but just wait, test, learn and then progress,” Rajagopal said.

Addressing the media fragmentation bit, he stated that what has become a crucial task today for every new age marketer is reaching out to the consumers who have cut the chords and began consuming content on the Netflixes and Amazon Primes of the world and once reached them, how to ensure that the message is as much more evocative and punchy.

Upon being questioned about the larger brand purpose of Colgate Palmolive in India, he replied that since the brand believes that purpose is basically the higher order benefits or benefits that go beyond the emotional benefits that link the brand to optimism, they did roll out a purpose led campaign last year and this year too they are in talks for the same.

“We don't want to do purpose for the sake of doing purpose. It has to ultimately build brand affinity which is all about consumers almost falling in love with the brand like what you will see with Apple or Harley Davidson. We want to build that for Colgate as well. That is a task and it gives you business benefits because then consumers evaluate the brand on a very different paradigm. But at the same time, it is also challenging to do because it has to be linked to the category, you cannot just do it in isolation,” he said.

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