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Vicco — brand that made Ayurveda mainstream with its ‘nahi cosmetic’ jingle

The company was founded by Keshav Vishnu Phendharkar in 1952 as Vishnu Industrial Chemical Company to make products that were free of chemicals.

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New Delhi: Whether one has used a product by Vicco Laboratories or not, the chances of vibing to the brand’s iconic jingle — “Vicco turmeric, nahi cosmetic” — is high.

You know a marketing team truly deserves its paycheck when jingles become earworms.

Just like popular ad jingles ‘humara Bajaj’, ‘washing powder Nirma’ and ‘Fena hi lena’, Vicco has established its brand across generations and borders.

The brand’s catchy tune has been loved, hummed and remembered, even if people have never used the products themselves.

What made Vicco more appealing was the use of Ayurveda in its hygiene and healthcare products, giving competition to other brands like Dabur, Himalaya, Shahnaz, etc. The use of ‘haldi’ (turmeric) in its skin cream — an item that is essential in Indian wedding festivities —  helped Vicco become a brand that made Ayurveda mainstream.

Shashi Vats, 54-year old Delhi-based teacher, told ThePrint, “I believe health always comes first. I have used Vicco turmeric skin cream regularly for the past few years and it reminds me of the traditional Indian household scent.”

Vicco was one of the first brands to sponsor popular TV soaps like ‘Yeh Jo Hai Zindagi’ on DD National. The brand became immensely likeable in an era when televisions weren’t accessible to everyone, smartphones did not exist and the internet was yet to enter peoples’ lives.

The company also went on to bag several awards, including the prestigious ABP Brand Excellence Award in Marketing Campaign category in 2017.

Truly the OG, Vicco offered premium products that the company claimed have the magic and goodness of natural ingredients.


Also read: ‘Kya aapke toothpaste mein namak hai?’ — Colgate ad that gave one of the most recalled taglines


How it started

The company was founded by Keshav Vishnu Phendharkar in 1952 as Vishnu Industrial Chemical Company (called Vicco Laboratories later). The story goes that Phendharkar, while sitting in his ration shop in Nagpur one day, had a vision to make a teeth cleaning powder that was free of chemicals.

He invented a herbal teeth cleaning power and went door-to-door with his sons to sell it. The powder became so popular that he soon set up production firms in Dombivali, Nagpur and Goa.

Started as a venture to provide affordable healthcare products, Vicco later increased prices than its competitors. The 100-gram Vicco Vajradanti toothpaste, for example, is priced at Rs 73, which is 21 per cent, 32 per cent and 40 per cent higher than Colgate, Patanjali and Pepsodent toothpastes respectively.

But the company has had its share of bumps on the road to success. On its launch, questions were raised by customers if the Vicco turmeric cream would leave yellow stains on the skin. To resolve this, the company had sent salesmen on a door-to-door mission, asking them to apply the cream in front of customers.

Vicco’s ups and downs

Phendharkar’s son Gajanan Pendharkar took over as the company chairman in 1971, increasing its turnover from Rs 1 lakh at the time to Rs 350 crore in 2015, when he died. The all-natural Ayurvedic company not only led markets in India but also established a strong presence in over 30 countries.

The company today has a turnover of around Rs 500 crore.

Products like Vicco Vajradanti paste, Vicco turmeric cream, Vicco sugar-free paste, Vicco foam items and Vicco turmeric facewash have allowed the brand to diversify, keeping up with the latest trends.

Vicco Laboratories has also had its share of ups and downs with the government. In 1978, the Central Excise department categorised Vicco Vajradanti and Vicco turmeric cream as cosmetics, contrary to the company’s claims of these being herbal remedies. This meant that the company could be levied cosmetic taxes.

A lawsuit was subsequently filed by the Central Excise Department in 1985 against Vicco Laboratories, the verdict for which came only in 2007. The court ruled in favour of the company, protecting them from cosmetics tax.

Catching up with the trends

For any company to stay successful in a highly competitive market, constant adaptation is a must. Good advertisements will bring traction but celebrity endorsements can help a product reach out to the youth.

Former captain of the Indian cricket team, Sourav Ganguly is the current brand ambassador for Vicco. When Shrirang S. Tembhekar, head of marketing and branding, Vicco Laboratories, announced the association, Ganguly had said that it was “a fan moment” for him as he often found himself singing Vicco’s jingles.

The aim of this partnership was to infuse nostalgia into customers’ minds, since many would have grown up watching Ganguly play for India, and in turn also connect them with the company’s newer products.

Bollywood actress Alia Bhatt was earlier roped in as its brand ambassador in 2020.

The brand has also modernised one of its jingles to appeal to the newer generation, with ‘yeh hai wohi Vicco Vajradanti’.

As part of their social media outreach recently, Vicco Laboratories spent over Rs 20 lakh on an influencer marketing campaign, according to Sheeko, a marketing and branding content management company.

The hashtag #WashKaroSquashKaro in Instagram reels is also being used to introduce the latest Vicco turmeric face wash. Niti Taylor, Niharicka Singh, Anisha Dixit and Rohan Shah are among the many influencers who were roped in to carry forward this campaign.


Also read: Tango, raspberry, lemonade — Duke’s fizzy, sweet drinks that were part of Sunday family rituals


 

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