Iconic Ads: Woodwards Gripe Water – Experience Over Expertise

Elders have the final say in bringing up kids. They also believed that their own experience were better than the doctor’s expertise

In the late 1980s, Bonnisan had entered the Indian market for the treatment of mild gas and tummy troubles in babies. All doctors believed that Woodward’s Gripe Water should be stopped. Bonnisan had the advantage of being an allopathic medicine!

Otherwise, till then, Woodward’s Gripe Water was the preferred choice.

Pops Sridhar, Chax Chakravarthy and Narayan Kumar were in HTA (JWT) Bangalore handling the TTK brand.

Coincidentally, all of them were becoming or had become fathers.

In an unlikely coincidence, when Chax’s baby daughter started crying, his mother and grandmother recommended Woodward’s. When Chax protested, citing the doctor’s recommendation. His mom was miffed. Then his grandmother got angry. Despite his protestations, they had questions like, “How old is your doctor?” Does he have children? And so on. To top it all off, both my mother and grandmother rebuked Chax by saying “we gave you the same thing; are you not healthy?”

It looked as if the elders had all questions and Chax had no answers. He was flummoxed, as neither could he deny or disagree.

Dharen Chaddha was the planner on the brand. In his survey, he found that apart from all the doctors being against the brand, the saving grace was that it was trusted by generations. The insight of the campaign is that the elderly have the final say in bringing up kids. They also believed that their own experiences were better than the doctor’s instructions. A lot more than 100 years of tradition and experience counted.

Actually, a copywriter had written the script which nearly went through except that the branch head Ganesh Eashwar was not impressed. However, when Chax presented it, the tables turned.

For the client’s approval, the team went to Chennai to present to the TTK team. The meeting was chaired by an old lady. Chax took the opportunity to present in Tamil, which not only impressed the TTK team but the lady in particular.

The path-breaking television commercial was produced and directed by Kailash Surendranath. The films were to be in five different languages. What was unique is that for each of the 5 languages, 5 sets of local actors, not advertising models, were used, for 5 master productions to retain the authenticity. Typically, one set of actors is used and then dubbed into different languages. Eventually, the 5 versions were used for 9 other languages, making it a total of 14 language versions.

This campaign helped to mitigate the negativity associated with Woodward’s. It also helped that TTK changed the formula of the product, removing the small percentage of alcohol.

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