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DS Group launches funny ad film for Pulse, aims to increase penetration
BestMediaInfo.com met Shashank Surana, VP, New Product Development, DS Group, to understand why the commercial was launched two years after the product. Surana spoke on the performance of Pulse and how the idea of ‘salt at the centre’ came about
Bestmediainfo.com, Mumbai, 18 April, 2017

The Dharampal Satyapal Group recently launched a television commercial for its popular candy Pass Pass Pulse, about two years after the launch of the product in the market. Ad film or no ad film, the candy has already taken the marketing world by storm, as it grew solely by word-of-mouth.

In a span of two years, the candy has to its credit four flavours (one is about to be launched), one tangy beverage, seven manufacturing units and about 1,800 tonnes of monthly production.

The story doesn’t end at the tangy tasting raw mango flavoured candy. The group later launched the other flavours – guava and orange. Coming up soon is the new flavour of the candy – pineapple Pulse and a cool beverage with the same tanginess of raw mango Pulse. The candy with the salt-filled centre will now be promoted through a TV film conceptualised by JWT.

Launched with a tag line of ‘Pran jaaye par Pulse na jaaye’, it is filmed with quirky and humorous examples of how far people can go to save their favourite Pulse Candy.

BestMediaInfo.com caught up with Shashank Surana, VP, New Product Development, DS Group, to understand why the commercial was launched two years after the product. Surana shared his views on the performance of Pulse and how the whole idea of ‘salt at the centre’ came about.

Surana said, “When we launched the product, there was a supply and demand gap. The product was an instant hit, consumers loved it. We had to quickly get the product placed at more outlets to reach more consumers. By the start of 2016-17 fiscal, we were catering to the demand that was there in the market by constantly ramping up our production. Back then, we were establishing the product and we had a lot of flavours in the pipeline. We have already launched guava and orange flavours and we will soon be launching pineapple flavour. We have built a lot of word-of-mouth publicity, digital activities and the digital community was propagating the brand till now. With this TVC, we will further increase the penetration and reach out to more consumers.”

Though a TVC has come out now, the company was already promoting on other platforms like digital, outdoor and radio, and also in shops and college fests.

The film is a very humorous take on the consumers’ love for the candy. What was the idea behind it? What was the brief? Surana said, “We were done with all other media and in the meantime, we were looking at the creative expression that demonstrates the love of consumers for Pulse. Through this TVC, the whole idea was to show the consumers’ love for the brand. As the brand was evolving, we realised that we need to see what consumers experienced and how they experienced the product. One of the key things during this research was the insight that if the consumers had a lot of candies they would share but if there were those last few Pulse left, they did not want to share. This passion was taken up by JWT to highlight people who wanted Pulse and those who wanted to protect it.”

This campaign has a lot of stages, including a 360-degree campaign that will pan out to TVC, print and BTL activities, including outdoor, events and others. This (Pulse) campaign is being treated as an FMCG brand campaign and had involved about 6-7 per cent of the turnover.

What kind of difference has the candy made to the hard boiled candy (HBC) segment? “When we had launched, 50 per cent of the candy market was dominated by mango flavour, which had 26 percent of raw mango. That’s why our choice of entering into the raw mango segment was quite clear. Mango is a flavour that cuts across all age groups and all geographies. We anticipate the mango category would have gone up further to be in the range of 55 per cent, though we don’t have any data to substantiate. Pulse would have increased the raw mango category further. The market that was initially growing at 12 to 13 per cent is now growing at about 20 to 22 per cent after the launch of Pulse. North and West are strong regions for us,” said Surana.

All other flavours, including caramel, orange, guava and everything put together is 50 per cent of the candy market. Surana informed that in similar proportions, orange and guava is doing their bit for Pulse also.

Surprisingly, the company hasn’t launched any campaign to promote other flavours – except the basic ‘raw mango’ flavour. There is no campaign planned for pineapple’s launch too. Why so?

Surana replied, “It is difficult to showcase the consumption of all three flavours in one commercial film, hence, you have to go with the ‘star’ flavour and then show the entire range at the end of the film. But soon, we will launch a tactical advertising campaign for different flavours on digital.”

Candies have a huge unorganised market, as much as the organised market which is about Rs 2,500 crore, as per Surana’s anticipation. But he doesn’t feel that there’s a threat. “As far as regional or unorganised brands are concerned, we don’t have a threat from anybody in this market. We have created a differentiation in the segment and any new player who is entering the market is only expanding it further. We have converted an impulse category to a Pulse category. Earlier people would say ‘give me a candy’ but now they ask for Pulse specifically.”

Why is there no celebrity in the ad? Surana feels, “The product is the celebrity and we don’t need a celebrity to endorse a celebrity.”

TVC snapshot
The film opens with the protagonist asleep in his room – this is when his house mates, on a day off, decide to play a prank on him to get their hands on his Pulse stash. Suddenly his roommate runs in and wakes him up, screaming that the house in on fire. The protagonist, in a blurred sleepy state on seeing smoke and fire, actually assumes that the house is on fire, as he sees his friends running to collect their precious belongings. This is when our guy springs to action, rushing to save and collect his hidden Pulse candies. That’s when the plot unravels and he discovers that it was his friends who were creating the fire and smoke. The commercial ends with the tag line that says -- ‘Pran jaaye par Pulse na jaaye.’

Shujoy Dutta, Vice-President and Executive Planning Director, J Walter Thompson Company, said, “It’s well known that candy is an impulse purchase and normally we would assume this would appeal to children. But when we were commissioned to work on the brand we discovered that the appeal of the candy spanned all age groups. Consumers enjoyed it so much that they were buying them in jars – and during the development of the campaign we heard that the demand outstripped supply and it became difficult to get your hands on the candy.”

Speaking about the film, Sundeep Sehgal and Siddharth Prasad (Executive Creative Directors, J Walter Thompson Company) said, “The challenge of working on a candy campaign is that the category has already seen a large volume of work and expectations from candy advertising are high. We were looking for a unique, fresh take that would give people yet another reason to love Pulse. We noticed that people in office wouldn’t keep Pulse on their tables, but in a drawer or behind a book or something like that. A little game of hide and seek was playing out right in front of us, and that’s where the campaign idea came from.” Commenting on the line ‘Pran Jaaye, Par Pulse Na Jaaye’ they said “it’s a quirky reflection of how people protect their Pulse candy.”