Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Halls : Thandi Saans Ka Blast

Brand : Halls
Company : Cadbury India Ltd
Agency : Contract Advertising

Brand Analysis Count : 421

Halls is one of the largest selling cough drops brand in the world. The brand claims to have 50% share in the International cough drops market.Halls brand was born in 1930 when Halls Brothers invented a Metho- Lyptus formula that alleviates throat irritations. Later in 1964,
Warner- Lambert acquired the brand and began to aggressively sell the product in the US market.

Halls came to India in 1968. The brand was initially sold as a therapeutic candy in the cough lozenges market. In 2003, Halls came into Cadbury's fold when it acquired the confectionery business of Warner-Lambert/Pfizer network ( Source : Halls Brand Site).

Halls had a series of ups and downs in the Indian market. At one point of time during the ninetees, the brand was the market leader with a share of over 30%. But at point in time , Warner- Lambert increased the price of Halls from 50 paise to 75 paise. The effect was devastating. The brand began to lose its share because consumers found it difficult to find the change in order to buy the product. It was easy to find a 50 paise but finding 25 paise was not easy. And the shop keeper will never return the 25 paise if given Rs 1. (source ).

Halls was promoted heavily by both Warner- Lambert and Cadburys. Halls is one of the heavy spenders in the category. But despite the heavy share of voice, Halls had a huge positioning problem.

The Rs 200 crore throat lozenges category is an interesting category. With in these category, there are certain subsegments which may not be visible to the consumer. For example, there is a therapeutic lozenges category which are medicinal in nature and sold through chemists. Strepsils belong to this category. While Vicks is perceived to be medicinal in nature, the product can be sold in all kind of shops. Halls belongs to the candy sub-segment within the category.

While most of the throat lozenges products are sold on medicinal platform, Halls wanted to differentiate itself. Hence the brand chose to position itself on the " Cool and Refreshing " Platform. But instead of focusing and establishing this platform, the brand kept oscillating between " medicinal throat relief " and " Refreshing" platforms. If you look at the series of ads of Halls across its lifetime, the brand was confused about its core brand value. In one ad, the brand will be concentrating on " Sore Throat " while in another it is taking about refreshing breath,

The brand was not confident about ditching the " sore throat " and embrace the " cool + refreshing " platform. This confusion eroded the brand's chances to become the market leader in this category. The brand failed to understand that it cannot be everything to everybody. It is commonsense that brands should try to occupy a unique position rather than trying to please everyone.
It was in 2008 that Halls finally decided to focus on the " Cool throat " platform . The brand used hyperbole to communicate this message to the consumer.
Watch the ad here : Halls Airplane Ad
Personally I did not like the ad because the action of the person who took Halls was contradicting the " Coolness " factor promoted by the brand. But the hyperbole or the exaggeration worked to brand's advantage. The brand was able to clearly communicate its core brand promise to the consumer.

It shows when a brand understands its core brand mantra. The decision of the brand to focus on the " coolness " had its impact on the quality of brand communication. Halls came out with its latest ad reinforcing its core positioning.
Watch the ad here : Halls Polar Bear ad
It is again Hyperbole at its height. The message is spot-on and the exaggeration works well to reinforce the core positioning of the brand. The brand has the tagline " Thandi Saans Ka Blast " which communicates its coolness promise.

Halls is facing competition for its positioning also. Recently Parle Xhale also has started its campaign highlighting its 'coolness'. Watch the ad here.

I hope that Halls will stay focused on the current positioning platform. Ofcourse by doing so, it may lose some consumers but in the long run the brand will benefit with the focus.