Dabur Honey and Sonu Sood’s campaign: Pure genius or a bitter ruse? – Exchange4media
A few days ago, a digital campaign by Dabur Honey caught the sharp eye of ad watchers but for reasons not so positive. It all started when Bollywood actor Sonu Sood took to Twitter to ask how one can be sure of the purity of honey as he decided to switch sugar from his diet for fitness reasons. Dabur Honey was quick to respond to this tweet and even invited Sood to experience “100% purity guarantee of Dabur honey.” What followed was a visit by Sood to Dabur Honey’s factory and a carefully curated digital film that showed the backend process of the making of Dabur Honey.
While the brand tried to portray it as an authentic moment marketing experience, communication consultant Karthik Srinivasan called it an “unnecessary ruse” in a blog post. He reasoned that the agency behind the ad is Havas, which recently worked on a brand campaign for Dabur Vita featuring Sonu Sood and also pointed out the use quotation marks in the tweet.
— sonu sood (@SonuSood) August 1, 2022
He wrote, “This is the ONLY tweet from Sonu, in that period (or any period, for that matter), that is written inside double quotes! Why shouldn’t we assume that this was a note sent by the agency Havas and Dabur India to Sonu Sood, and he (or his team) simply copied and pasted it verbatim—including the quotes—on Twitter? (sic)” Not just Srinivasan, several others felt that the exercise was carefully planned as they commented on Srinivasan’s LinkedIn post.
Brand Management, Corporate Communications & GTM Consultant Sanjeev Shukla wrote, “As not-genuine as their honey! Odd, that a large corporate such as Dabur, is overlooking/breaking a few fundamental tenets of Marketing. Product above all. If the product isn’t above scrutiny, Marcomm isn’t going to help in the long run. Customer isn’t a fool. Calling a Marcomm gimmick as genuine is pulling wool over customers eyes. (sic)”
It is interesting to note that the campaign has come at a time when honey brands are dealing with a sense of distrust amongst consumers, especially after the December 2020 report by the Center for Science and Environment that alleged several honey brands, including Dabur, are selling adulterated products.
Was this campaign planned?
Dabur Honey maintains its stance that the campaign was 100% authentic. Dabur India Ltd Marketing Head-Health Supplements Prashant Agarwal told e4m, “Yes, it was a genuine query posted by actor and philanthropist Mr. Sonu Sood on his social media handle. When he enquired about the purity of honey available in the market on social media, Dabur responded to the query as we saw it as a wonderful opportunity to build an authentic experience around the exchange.”
On being asked how the whole campaign planned so spontaneously if Sood’s query was authentic, he replied, “We have been undertaking social media listening across platforms and have deployed special tools for the same. When our agency came across the post by Sonu Sood, they immediately informed us. We also responded to the query through a social media post from our brand handle and invited Mr. Sood to a honey trail, offering him first-hand experience on how Dabur sources, processes and packs honey.”
He added that the intent behind the following digital campaign was to keep it realisting and informative for the larger audience, “When Mr. Sonu Sood agreed to come over and experience the purity journey of Dabur Honey, we decided to present this entire journey in the form of a digital campaign. We wanted to keep the entire story real and unscripted, hence it was easy and quick to execute.”
Is authenticity challenging?
As several people took to social media to question the authenticity of this campaign while the brand stands to its stance, the question arises, is authenticity challenging?
Agarwal disagrees, “In fact, authentic stories like these help brands build a strong connection with the audience because there are no filters or scripts. It is just the real experiences that help strengthen people’s trust in the brand. In future too, we will continue looking for such real experiences and storytelling which is supported by such credible voices. In the past couple of years, Dabur Honey has focused on creating digital-first content through campaigns like Heroes of Honey, Shubho Bijoya etc, which have featured exclusive and real stories of beekeepers, honey collectors and their families. Such authentic content is always loved by consumers proven through various metrics irrespective of brands and companies.”
Passing the purity test
Despite the brand maintaining its authentic campaign, the disbelief in the audience and marketing community can adversely affect both Dabur and Sood. As The Bottom Line Founder Vigyan Verma also commented on Srinivasan’s LinkedIn post, “…I feel it just makes it seem like a better case study for a marketing presentation. It also rides on the fact that there are very few people who are actually aware of the chain of events and bother with connecting the dots. Certainly being upfront pays off in the long run, and pretence makes one small after exposure. And there are two brands involved here. Dabur and Sonu Sood. It’s a risk for both, especially for Sonu Sood whose stature rests on authenticity and genuineness. He is not the most sought after movie star otherwise. His handlers or he himself should have been more careful. (sic)”
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