Lizol, Dettol, Lifebuoy add gloss and sparkle with celebs, TikTok stars

Topics Coronavirus | TikTok | Dettol

L to R: Saif Ali Khan is pushing the message for Lizol, Shilpa Shetty is spreading the word for Lifebuoy and Tiger Shroff for Dettol
The ordinary cleaning agent is having a moment. Demand has never been higher, nor has its presence in the monthly essentials list been more secure. Besides, it isn’t every day that disinfectants get a mention in a White House briefing, leading to heaps of memes and conversations around the brands in the category.

Naturally then there has been a surge in advertising by these brands; Lizol, Harpic, Dettol, Lifebuoy have all held steady on the list of top 10 advertisers on TV as per data from BARC (Broadcast Audience Research Council) for weeks. But more importantly, marketers point out, the brands are leveraging their time in the spotlight to invest in long term recall and a premium identity by leaning in more heavily on their celebrity endorsers and expanding their community of influencers.

Reckitt Benckiser’s (RB) disinfectant brand Lizol has launched a nationwide awareness campaign #DisinfectTo Protect with a bevy of prominent faces. Kareena Kapoor Khan and Saif Ali Khan, Ritesh Deshmukh and Genelia D’Souza, Ganesh Venkatraman and Nisha Krishnan, and Twinkle Khanna are among those on the company’s list of endorsers. 

Dettol, also from RB, has brought in actor Madhuri Dixit to speak about washing hands to prevent spread of viruses and its hand wash challenge led by Tiger Shroff on TikTok has several actors stepping up with their own versions. Sukhleen Aneja, CMO & marketing director, RB Hygiene South Asia said, “We would like to raise awareness on the need for disinfecting not just floors but multiple surfaces. We hope that with this campaign we can do our bit in raising awareness and making the world cleaner and healthier.”

Lifebuoy, the soap, handwash and sanitizer brand of Hindustan Unilever, has turned to its endorser, actor Kajol Devgn, to amplify the message of cleanliness. On TikTok, the brand has designed a challenge that has many, including actor Salman Khan, dancing to its tune. 

Lifebuoy however is not relying just on its celebrity power, the brand is invoking a strong sense of solidarity through public service ads where it does not promote its label overtly, but merely sets down the guidelines for staying safe during the pandemic.

Given the nature of the current crisis, the band of disinfectant brands has a big advantage as its demand is likely to soar even higher in the coming months. In many places, the companies are unable to fill up the shelves fast enough as panic-buyers have swept them bare. Do these brands really need to advertise in such a situation?

Advertising veteran K V (Pops) Sridhar says that the way to look at the brand behaviour is to separate the strategic from tactical reasons. The surge in demand today is a tactical push, people are buying to fulfil a need and creating shortages. But this may not last, volumes might drop. 

“Brands such as Lizol are investing in the brand so that they can sustain the growth, here is their opportunity to compete with the other major brands. Once you start investing in a brand, you can extend it. Today there may be only a floor cleaner, tomorrow it could come up with glass cleaner, kitchen scrubbers and many other products from the stable of the same brand. You are strengthening the brand, otherwise you will just remain in the single category,” Sridhar said.

Another reason to advertise even more now is that many brands are dealing with acute shortage as they are not able to keep pace with demand, be it in terms of production volumes or through a smooth supply of the goods. “These brands advertise to keep the brand alive so that people don’t get used to an alternative and also for the goodwill of the brand,” Sridhar added.

Big brands have an added responsibility in such crises, say marketers. Not only is it expected that they will make it to the shelves on time, customers also expect the brands to demonstrate their solidarity with the people. Smaller brands dont bear this burden, as they can merely step into the gap and make the most of the short term demand spike. But for the big brands, if they are able to keep the faith at this time, they can build a stronger brand, create sub-brands and expand their portfolio of products.

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