(published in Aurora Magazine, July-August 09 issue)
The multiverse of animated brand ambassadors in Pakistan has just become a little bigger with the entrance of a new ‘Dood’ into the 3D arena.
Born on March 28th to launch Millac Foods’ first entry into the confectionary dairy market, Dood is both product and character, and his story begins in 2005 when research into Millac Foods’ condensed milk brand, Comelle revealed a surprising trend.
“When we relaunched Comelle sweet and condensed milk in both plastic lid and sachet format in 2004-05, it was positioned as a tea milk and whitener,” says Hashim Abidi, Account Director, Insync.
“After the launch however, our follow up research revealed that the sachets were overwhelmingly being purchased by kids as a snack!”
Faced with such an unlikely, yet undeniable permutation of the brand’s new SKU, Millac foods and the team at Insync chose to ride the tide of demand and reposition the sachets as a confectionary, primarily for kids aged between six and 10.
Farrukh Ikram, CEO, Millac Foods says the decision to move from dairy to confectionary was made easier because, “we had been selling huge quantities of raw material, such as condensed milk, milk powder, butter and cream to the confectionary industry for a long time, so we felt it would be an interesting experiment to enter the category with our own consumer product.”
Additionally, Raza Mankani, CEO, Insync is quick to point out that, “This is one category which is largely inelastic, as kids aren’t conscious of the economy or the recession. They don’t think ‘times are bad so let me reduce from three toffees to one’ so it’s a good market to be in if you can cater to taste preferences.”
With client and agency in agreement over the new positioning of Comelle sachets, the next hurdle was to give the product a competitive edge.
“In Pakistan, when it comes to confectionaries, the trend is to put a product into the market, beat it to death for three months then launch a new product, and so on,” says Ikram.
“We are from the dairy industry and we don’t operate like that. For us, what was important was to create a product which had no emulsifiers, stabilisers, chemical flavours and only the best imported ingredients. While this reduces the profit margin, we felt we should follow the same standards we apply to our dairy products.”
To this, Hashim adds that aside from the well recognised names in the confectionary industry, many confectionary products in the market are produced under dubious quality control and health standards at best. In this way, Dood’s winning attribute is the health benefit of being a 100% pure milk product which parents can safely buy in the kind of quantities kids tend to demand.
Dood was positioned at the same price point of three rupees, as its principal competitors – Cadbury’s Choccy bar and Candyland’s caramel nougat bar, Now.
For Mankani and the Insync team, the key to winning market share was to appeal to children and maintain their interest over time – and that is where Dood, the character, steps in.
“Kids want superheroes, they want fascination and imaginary friends,” says Hashim.
“In Pakistan we have our ‘yaar, yaari’. Similarly in English we have the term ‘dude’, and as our product was doodh, we created synergy between dude, doodh and our character so that kids could recognise the name right away.”
This synergy between product name and product also extends to the characteristics and values of Dood as a digital brand ambassador, most visible in the TVC.
Coming to life after accidentally falling outside a plastic wrapper, Dood engages in a high speed escape from the factory where he is born, with his nemesis, the moustachioed factory manager hot on his trail; a familiar plotline which Insync modelled around classic Tom & Jerry cartoons.
Throughout this sequence, Dood’s attributes as both product and character come to life. His body, for one, is opulent and veritably glistening with candy goodness. He is flexible, gooey and has the ability to morph into any form he chooses, making him a superhero kids would find both fascinating and (cannibalistically enough) worth eating.
While such visual elements and plotlines were conceived by the creative team at Insync, the credit for the crisp, high quality animation goes to MFX, an animation house based in Malaysia where the project was outsourced.
According to Hashim, the decision was taken because “given how flexible Dood was, it would have been hard for local animators to meet the challenge… while animation being produced locally is quite good, we wanted our animation to by and large be comparable to films coming out of studios like Pixar.”
Unlike other local animated characters, Dood also happens to be a non-violent, ethical sort of guy. The Insync team has taken great care in presenting him in a clean, wholesome manner which does not involve extended gun battles, skull crushing or other acts of violence, destruction and general mischief which cartoon characters gravitate towards.
“He is a role model for children,” says Hashim.
“He is helpful, intelligent and witty… naughty at times but within limits. We wanted to model him after values the brand stands for.”
With such emphasis being put on the character, the focus of the campaign has largely been on broadcast, to ensure that kids get to see the unfolding story first hand.
Strategic efforts have been made to exclusively target kids by running the TVC on all local cartoon channels and branding three Worldcall stations for an entire month, while introducing Dood in children’s magazines via print ads. Not to be left out of the digital trend, Dood also has his own Facebook profile.
Developing the product in tandem with the campaign, short term future plans for the brand include introducing new flavours and continuing to unravel Dood’s storyline. However, current budget constraints could curtail further episodes of Dood’s animated tale. Despite this possible setback, the impact of the campaign and the translation of Comelle’s brand equity to Dood seem to have yielded results.
According to Ikram, the brand has met its expected sales targets, and although admitting he does not see Dood becoming a major part of Millac Foods’ portfolio at this time, he remains hopeful for the future.
In a playful tone reminiscent of his new brand, he adds, “Apart from having gone into confectionaries, we were even more excited about making an animated film!”