Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Close Up : Kya Ap CloseUp Karthe hain?

Brand : Close Up
Company: HLL

CloseUp is the original youth brand in Indian toothpastes. Launched in 1975, this brand is the first gel toothpaste aiming at the youth segment. HLL through CloseUp have created and owned a segment for itself.
The 2200 crore toothpaste market that was dominated by Colgate Dental Cream needed some competition and Hll used CloseUp effectively to fight the market leader.CloseUp was a disruptive brand that changed the structure of toothpaste market in India. With the red colour and smart advertising , it forced the market leader to change its strategy and launch a gel variant.
The customer insight was that people are conscious about their breath and want to get close with each other with confidence. Based on this insight the brand was positioned on the Fresh Breath platform . The campaign was executed showing "Happy couples having fun together". Even film Theatres had corners called as "Close Up Corners". The brand had the aspirational persona in it. Close Up have used films and filmi songs to appeal to the Indian youth. Close Up was the first brand to introduce the " Self Check" of breath. The famous " HA HA" was the idea of Close Up introduced in year 1987.
In 2004 Close Up again was relaunched. During that period, the fight between Pepsodent and Colgate was hotting up. Both of these brands were owning the oral care platform and CloseUp 's share was coming down. Close Up found that its mono-attribute focus is losing the sheen .Hll relaunched CloseUp With Vitamin and Flouride . Thus CloseUp offered more than Fresh Breath it also offered Oral Care.
Close Up launched lot of variants that bombed in the market. The variants like Oxy fresh and Eucalyptus Blue failed in the market. HLL decided that only the Lemon variant will continue. The reason behind the failure of variant is because Close Up is a Sensorial brand. And in such kind of brands, variants will not work. In categories which are more rational, variants will work.

Colgate have given a run for money for Close Up with their gel variant. The "Talk To Me" campaign was a run away success. Colgate failed to capitalise on that campaign- that is another issue. But the gel variant took the breath out of Close Up.
Close Up had to reinvent to keep the category that it created. The account was shifted from JWT to O&M. Now the mother brand is focusing on three attributes : Fresh breath, White Teeth and Strong Teeth.
O&M have brought out a campaign " Kya aap Close Up Karthe Hain" which was perceived as "cool" among the market.
The recent campaign which aims at positioning on the "Smile " factor is a damp squib, the campaign is poorly executed and treats the target market as a bunch of adolescents who will do any thing to attract the opposite sex. Indians never was bothered about the way they look, let alone how their teeth look like. That is why 33% of urban market is not using tooth pastes and 67% of rural still use the traditional way of brushing teeth like neem sticks. So when the ad shows that a young person being conscious about their teeth, it does not click.( my opinion). I guess the agency have run out of ideas.

This is a brand that have created a category for itself. It will be sad if it cannot dominate that category. But that is what marketing is all about " survival of the smartest".

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