I have been a fan of brand Cinthol ever since I remember. It must be my dad, I suppose – he still uses the original Cinthol (the red pack) and I may have been subconsciously indoctrinated into believing that it is a good brand of soap. Dad did that with Forhans toothpaste too, but that isn’t available anymore in India!
Personally, I’ve a huge – and strange – interest in soaps (shampoos too, till the time I had some hair). I try every kind of soap or shower gel in the market and lose interest in bad ones very soon. Every 3-6 months or so, I come back to original Cinthol. I have written about my communication with Godrej soaps (when I was young) already, here.
I still recall vividly. Back when I was in school, we had gone on a South India tour and this included a visit to Hyderabad. As we finished visiting various tourist’y spots in Hyderabad, we stopped at a large convenience store to buy some stuff. I spotted an odd, egg-shaped soap there for the first time – I had not seen it back home in Coimbatore and that made me very curious. It was, of course, the ill-fated Le Sancy soap from Unilever that Lever India was test marketing in Hyderabad to start with. It arrived in other markets, backed by a high-power ad campaign spearheaded by Piyush Pandey (remember the famous, ‘Rahul, paani chala jaayega’ to explain the promise of the soap that lasts?). It was the oddest shaped soap in a long time and they even launched soap boxes of odd shape to cater exclusively to that soap. Everything failed as fast as it hit national attention, of course.
With such interest in soaps, I’m surprised at myself that I have been a fan of one soap for so long. So, it was with extraordinary attention that I started following Cinthol’s rebranding effort recently.
Besides the ‘original’ Cinthol that was my perennial favorite, Cinthol always had a few variants that did not look anything like the original one. It had musk, cologne, fresh aqua and lime variants and they were shaped differently from the usually box-shaped, solid-rectangle original Cinthol. The cologne variant was actually quite good, but in the past one year I have consistently seen year old stocks of it in stores near by – nothing new.
The rebranding started – obviously – with a television ad. It is a complete change from the traditional Cinthol ad that has featured actors like Vinod Khanna and sportsmen like Imran Khan, in the past.
The money spent is in-your-face and the emotions depicted seem curiously distant. Nope… sorry. The ad did not work for me in any way… I just wasn’t enthused to head to the shower, but that’s just me. The exotic locations in the ad could well do the trick with others.
What did catch my attention was the fleeting product shots in the end.
It did not just show a range of differently packed soaps, but also shower gels in a uniquely shaped container, besides talcs in standard cans and deo sprays! I have been looking out for it both online and offline, ever since.
I checked out Cinthol.com first and strangely, it displayed a ‘Coming soon’ message for a long time. And, perhaps after a tweet from me… or as per their plan, it started redirecting to Cinthol’s YouTube page. It is interesting to see that Cinthol is doing everything it would have otherwise done in its own web page, on its YouTube page!
It not only has the TVC video, but also many variants of it and more globe-trotting bathing experiences in the name of ‘Alive is awesome’, its awkward new tagline (dead must obviously be terrible). Not just videos (what one usually associates with a YouTube page), the page also has a product showcase exactly like what one would expect on a web page, complete with mouse-overs, social media links to Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest! This is quite a path-breaking departure for a brand that has a huge relaunch – not have a website of its own and redirect the default URL to a YouTube page that acts like the actual website. I’m sure this is done with Google’s support, but I do wonder how it would impact SEO value of this exercise given that the traffic is going to Google and not to Cinthol.com domain.
But yes, this is nothing but the webpage added under the URL, aliveisawesome.com – it is then all the more intriguing that the cinthol.com parent URL does not redirect to aliveisawesome.com but to the YouTube page!
Offline, when I did find the new range in a departmental shop nearby, I was surprised to see only the multi-soap packs available. The four new variants were available in packs of 3 (some in 4s). Agreed… Cinthol is an established brand and has always been selling soaps in packs of 3 or 4 for quite some time. But, as a new range that people have not been exposed to, it seems like an odd choice to launch it in multi-packs. Single packs could help significantly in inducing trials since people are seeing the new pack for the first time and are exposed to the new variants afresh. So, the consideration might be that it is a new soap and they may want to try one out before investing in packs of 3 or 4.
It is also good to note that the soaps retain their 76% TFM even now – the original Cinthol always had an industry-leading 79% TFM. I’m yet to see if the original’s new version will retain the 79% differentiator.
But, what I really love in the new range is the pack design. Apart from the box that contains the 3 soaps, the individual pack is mighty impressive too. It has an almost Apple-like sparse quality and the way the Godrej logo is placed alongside the main Cinthol brand is classy and helps in reconnecting users with the original brand’s appeal. Even the shape is exquisitely Apple – a stark, easy-to-hold (Are we holding it right?), thinner rectangle that looks completely different from oval and rounder-corner (gulp!) rectangles that one is accustomed to seeing in soaps in India.
The really good news is that the range is very impressive as a soap – I tried the Intense and Cool versions of the soap and would love to try the shower gels too as soon as Godrej finds it appropriate to launch it in a store near my home in Bangalore.
I’m also glad that the original variant continues to exist in their portfolio, but I understand that it may now come in the new 75gm pack as against the usual 100gm.
The most exciting soap – at least in my opinion – in recent times in India was Fiama Di Wills’ Gel Bathing Bar. I mean… who can resist when Deepika Padukone is tantalizingly urging you to have a bath? But seriously, this range was really interesting from a form factor (Pears style) and fragrance perspective. Fiama did follow it up with the Vivel brand and I had written about the Luxury Creme range packing sometime back.
Cinthol’s rebirth ups the ante – in the sheer perceived quality of the new range, the way an iconic soap brand has been repositioned and the package design that, to me, seems fresh (pun intended!) in India. It would have been great if the ad did not try this hard to sell the coolth and ended up showcasing the fact that the client had a large budget more than the product qualities, but I guess whichever way you look at it, the product is a winner with its inherent quality.