Iconic Ads: Vicks Cough Drops – Khich Khich Dur Karo

Simple & insightful thinking plus the use of love between the father (as opposed to the routine use of the mother) & daughter.

In the early 1980s, it was drug regulation & then pharma ban, Vicks has been through a lot.

In the late 1980s, Vicks was moved from Over Counter (OTC) product to a prescription based one because of the usage of methyl salicylate. But it changed by using the oil of wintergreen which contained methyl salicylate. To top it all, it called itself ayurvedic & stayed an OTC

Vicks has always been associated with “taking care”, which is shown in the TVCs where it does not sell products, but show mother’s love & care – an element of an endearing moment of love & care between mother & child

Richardson Hindustan (later P&G) commissioned OBM (Ogilvy) to create the advertising for Vicks cough drops. Simple & insightful thinking plus the use of love between the father (as opposed to the routine use of the mother) & daughter.

There was a worldwide effort that started in Japan in the 1980s that was adopted around the world. The campaign was dubbed “Ahemm bug” in the United States and other English-speaking nations because the bug was known as such in those countries.

Bharat Patel was then heading marketing at RHL. At OBM, Piyush Pandey was in client servicing,  Suresh Mullick was the national creative head, and Vinod Sharma (also a famous Voice Over artist) was the Hindi copywriter. All of them got into a discussion. The OBM creative team was clear that Ahemm bug will not work in India. Patel opined that in India, whenever we got irritated, we say “khich khich ho gaya.’” Everyone agreed that the relevant words for India were Khich Khich. Also, this seemingly insignificant but very easy-to-understand phrase “khich-khich.” (instead of Kharash – throat irritation), words not from a dictionary made people easily understand.

Ogilvy roped-in famous actor Jayant Kripalani & a kid for the film directed by Suraj Rai. His baritone voice & the kids’ impishness appealed to a large audience. Coincidentally the kid was Ishita Arun (daughter of Ila Arun, niece of Piyush Pandey). The script in English was written by Suresh Mullick and the Hindi one by Vinod Sharma. The voice-overs were by Harish Bhimani (for Jayant) and Vinod Sharma.

In 1983, the commercial was pulled off the air because it showed her winking at her father and the rules of the time forbade a woman to wink on TV. It was noticed by the client who informed OBM. This Khich Khich was sorted out by Roda Mehta who actually asked how a kid and a woman could be compared!

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