In 2004, Amit Doshi joined Britannia as area sales manager in Chennai. Since then the city and the state of Tamil Nadu have been special to Doshi. That bond has survived the test of time, and today, as the company’s chief marketing officer, Doshi is pushing his team and agency partners into creative conversations that not only evoke nostalgia but also cuts across generations.
The company’s biscuit brand Milk Bikis is Britannia’s biggest in Tamil Nadu. It’s a Rs 1,000-crore brand and commands 90 percent of the market in the state. “Britannia and Tamil Nadu are intertwined in how their growth trajectories have panned out. It’s the strongest market for us in terms of share of brand metrics. We have an extremely passionate sales team residing there. It’s a team that has a deep understanding of the market,” he says.
Doshi also credits indie creative shop Talented, one of the brand’s agency partners, with fostering the understanding that one needs to look at the market differently even from a communication lens.
Tapping into a fan base
In the early part of his career, PG Aditiya, the co-founder of Talented, worked with a lot of FMCG brands. He understood that Tamil Nadu is a great test market across categories. It’s a market that is very open to embracing a national and international brand if they feel the brand is good enough.
Aditiya, believes that there is a myth that it’s difficult for national players to get into southern states. “Milk Bikis is a classic example of how that’s not true. Most of Tamil Nadu’s biggest icons aren’t native Tamilians, the biggest example of that being Rajnikanth. A brand like Milk Bikis helps bust the myth. The state is the tip of the iceberg if we choose to look at hyper-regionalisation as a genuine approach,” he says.
The brand is tapping into its existing fan base and culture. Talented has been playing with 15 different Tamil dialects for various communication pieces for Milk Bikis. For example, on the occasion of Tamil Nadu Day, to reach out to the state’s heartland, the brand developed a hyperlocal campaign titled ‘Anaivarukkum’, which means ‘for everyone’.
The agency’s creatives Samyu Murali and Balaji P. led the campaign’s development. The team discovered that there are slight variations in the Tamil dialect spoken every 15-20 km. They further observed that people can recognise the area one is from on the basis of the kind of Tamil they speak. Everything was connected to central idea behind ‘Anaivarukkum’. To formulate this, the agency looked at theatre and films, the other connecting threads in the state too.
Milk Bikis showed gratitude to the state of Tamil Nadu while highlighting the sub-cultures within neighbourhoods. Inspired by type-led Tamil movie posters of the eighties and nineties, each billboard is customised to their location, with over 45 distinct copy variations across. (Image source: Samyu Murali via LinkedIn)
The brand attempted to show its gratitude to the state by touching on the subcultures within neighbourhoods and districts. The team spoke to consumers from the smallest towns to understand their connections with the brand and create the communication strategy accordingly. There were 80 plus billboards plastered across the state, along with strategic print ads. . Inspired by type-led Tamil movie posters of the eighties and nineties, each billboard is customised to their location, with over 45 distinct copy variations across. A few films were also created.
Aditiya says Talented took inspiration from British Airways’ ‘reasons to travel’ ad campaign last year which was a set of 500 unique ads that the company released to win back some love. Conceptualised by creative studio Uncommon, no two ads were the same in the campaign, which included print, digital and outdoor executions, as well as 32 different short films, that ran across the UK for over a month.
“We have gone about interpreting India’s complexities in a way that makes our job easier as creative people and marketers. And even the consumers don’t expect personalisation anymore, definitely not on a billboard or television. This campaign gives us a playbook on how you can maximise impact in a particular region,” adds Aditiya.
Challenging traditional stereotypes
According to Doshi, Tamil Nadu is a rewarding market for marketers. “They (consumers from the state) want the best from brands. From the quality of content to the quality of products, it’s also a market that rewards you for putting newer experience out there. They are willing to pay a premium if you are experimental. We saw this with Milk Bikis Classic,” he explains.
In 2021, as an ode to simpler times, the brand relaunched in its original avatar in terms of packaging. It was done on consumer demand. “This market is a beautiful bridge between tradition, consistency and deep respect for heritage. It is also a future-facing state in the way consumers are evolving and also embracing new sensorial experiences,” says Doshi.
For its latest campaign, the brand collaborated with Lowe Lintas Bangalore to emphasise how the equal and active contribution of both parents plays a vital role in enriching a child's overall success.
This is what makes Tamil Nadu a special market for a brand that’s keep up with the changing times and winning hearts of the consumers, one campaign after the other.