How Cipla is going beyond the pill to empower patients’ lives, one campaign at a time
Nikhil Chopra, Executive Vice-President & Head India Business, Cipla LtdCipla
Going ahead, Cipla's focus will be on driving awareness and empowering patients, not only by educating them but also by...

How Cipla is going beyond the pill to empower patients’ lives, one campaign at a time

Going ahead, Cipla's focus will be on driving awareness and empowering patients, not only by educating them but also by...
  • Cipla recently released the second phase of its ongoing campaign, #BerokZindagi that was all about dispelling myths around asthma.
  • Going ahead, Cipla's focus will entirely be on driving awareness and empowering patients, not only by educating them but also by equipping them with the required wherewithal for taking care of themselves better.
  • Nikhil Chopra, Executive Vice-President & Head India Business, Cipla Ltd spoke about the brand's marketing strategy and their continuous effort to keep customers at the core of everything it does.
India’s home grown drug manufacturer Cipla is on a mission – to open communication about certain conditions, and bust myths around them. Their aim is to help patients understand that despite suffering from a condition like asthma or Benign Prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), it is possible to lead a normal life.

As a pharmaceutical company, Indian norms restrict an organization like Cipla to advertise its products. Therefore, the company has been taking an interesting route, of not talking about its offerings directly, but rather about some of the conditions that its products treats, in order to raise awareness and educate consumers.

Cipla’s ongoing campaign, #BerokZindagi was all about dispelling myths around asthma. In its second phase, the campaign was well-timed, right after smog engulfed the national capital after Diwali. The latest digital campaign #InhalersHainSahi that featured actor Radhika Apte and other celebrities like chef Vikas Khanna, Badminton player Parupalli Kashyap and digital influencer Shristi Dixit was all about discouraging biases about asthma and its associated treatment.

We recently caught up with Nikhil Chopra, Executive Vice-President & Head India Business, Cipla Ltd who spoke not just about the recent campaign, but about the organization’s overall marketing strategy and how every bit of communication coming out of Cipla keeps the consumer at its centre.

Edited excerpts:

Q) You launched the #BerokZindagi campaign just after Diwali. Was the timing of the campaign strategic?

The timing of the launch was indeed planned to coincide with a period when people with asthma have the most intense need for reassurance about treatment choices, and more importantly, the encouragement to opt for the appropriate therapy to avoid suffering that can easily be overcome. Diwali is not only marked with excessive pollution which is dangerous for patients with asthma but it is also timed at the turn of season which often tends to exacerbate breathing problem. Hence, to answer your question, yes, our teams have put in much thought and consideration into the timing of the campaign but we were definitely not counting on such severe levels of pollution in Delhi making headlines this year. Berok Zindagi is centered on the core principle of driving awareness about asthma, breaking the taboos and misconceptions surrounding it and getting people to say yes to inhalation therapy which is effective and accepted worldwide as one of the safest ways to treat asthma. Berok Zindagi’s message this year through #InhalersHainSahi is about discouraging biases about asthma and its associated treatment. Inhalers neither stunt growth in children nor are addictive. We also take the social stigma attached to asthma and the use of inhalers head-on in our campaign. There is no shame in following a doctor-recommended practice (regular use of inhalers) to live a full life free of barriers.

Q) Last year you roped in Priyanka Chopra for the first phase of the campaign. What was the reception to it? Were you able to bust some of the myths around asthma?

Yes. Our success last year was very encouraging and it has assured us that we are on the right path. As a matter of fact, our research showed us 14% increase in the acceptance of inhalers. In the previous year, we used a widely known face who understood asthma, having suffered from the condition herself. Given her wide appeal, we managed to get uncountable people to come forth and talk about their experiences with asthma without any fear of judgement or stigma. For us, this marked a real shift in people’s conduct towards asthma. This time, we have adopted a newer format of communicating the message. The digital film for #InhalersHainSahi begins with Radhika Apte starting a conversation on facts and misinformed beliefs about asthma. Radhika represents and directly connects with every such person who is not affected by the disease but cares about those who are. On the other hand, popular and successful individuals from different fields who have suffered through and conquered asthma engage with the audience and inspire asthmatics to not only say yes to the right treatment, but also to a life without any boundaries.Celebrities like Michelin award winning chef, Vikas Khanna; Arjuna awardee Badminton player, Parupalli Kashyap and a widely successful Digital influencer, Shristi Dixit help convey that misguided beliefs about asthma should be the last thing to restrict people from adopting inhalers. People connect with them and having known-faces from 4 different fields in the digital film help us reach out to a wider range of audiences.

Q) Considering direct advertising is not allowed for pharma companies in India, what are you trying to achieve through your communication?

For us at Cipla, the patient is at the core of whatever we do. Our endeavour is to go beyond the pill and help patients to the best of our abilities, even by empowering them to stay healthy. As a pharmaceutical company, in line with established Indian norms, we do not advertise our products. Our narrative is on helping patients become aware. As a leading player in the respiratory segment, it is important that we take it upon ourselves to take the stigma and the myths that exist in the category today that is coming in the way of a patient living a free life. Berok Zindagi is our attempt to do just that – inform the patient, help him/her by busting myths and helping patients live freely.

Q) Is Digital the most important medium for you currently?

As of now, we have released the digital leg of Berok Zindagi with an online film for #InhalersHainSahi on social media. However, a multi-media approach is planned, which will utilize several other platforms over the upcoming months. Digital is very important for us mostly because of the sheer flexibility of formats that it offers for communicating a message. A separate TVC has been launched too. Besides that, other amplifications have been planned over time. TV continues to be an important medium due to its mass reach. Notwithstanding, digital’s massive traction is progressively increasing. Hence, though traditional methods like engaging with people through TV remains imperative, given its wide reach and continuing popularity in India, to connect with all our target groups, marketing has to include new-age mediums like the digital platforms. In fact, this year, we first launched the digital piece with the influencers. Our intent this time is to reach people with asthma and also those who have an impact on their lives, irrespective of whether they suffer from the condition or not. The aim is to change people’s mindset and help them make the right decision for themselves and their loved ones. As a result, our focus also remains on reaching out to every person possible through every pattern and medium of content consumption.

Q) Will your marketing strategy continue to be picking up a particular disease/condition and talking about it through influencers/brand ambassadors/actors?

Not necessarily. The campaigns and initiatives driven by the India Business have different approaches, but the intention behind these is more or less the same. Our efforts are focussed on driving awareness about a disease, getting people to engage with the information, encourage them to take necessary actions for appropriate treatment and even foster the prevention of deterioration. This pro-patient approach and intent remains constant across therapies, be it cardiovascular, urology or respiratory. For instance, we are driving a massive effort for a urological condition called Benign Prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) through an initiative called What a Relief. BPH can cause bladder, urinary tract or kidney problems and is a common cause of lowered quality of life amongst men aged 40 and above. In fact, 2 out of every 3 Indian men in this age group have moderate-severe LUTS (Lower urinary tract symptoms) due to BPH. The ‘What a Relief’ platform equips patients with all the tools required to lead an uninterrupted life. The services are found in-clinic and also on the go to help people access necessary facilities, like physicians and washrooms. It's our attempt to provide relief, and our entire campaign in the end is about relief. In the end, no matter what the condition, the point is to help patients make the choice that will help them in living a better life.

Q) Going ahead what will be your broad marketing strategy?

For our future plans, our focus will entirely be on driving awareness and empowering patients, not only by educating them but also by equipping them with the required wherewithal for taking care of themselves better. This is through quicker diagnosis and better disease management. The point is to make strategic choices to increase our interface and engagement with the patients, to help them accept a health problem and make appropriate decisions for it. Berok Zindagi has engaged with and spoken to millions of people across India- patients, their loved ones and even the doctors. Earlier this year, we announced a partnership with Wellthy Therapeutics to offer a combination of pharmacotherapy and digital therapeutics for improved patient outcomes in the chronic therapies of diabetology and cardiology through a multi-lingual clinically-validated digital disease management platform for patients living with diabetes or cardiovascular diseases. The platform brings together behavioural science, real world clinical evidence and artificial intelligence to provide real time monitoring, coaching and advice to patients, and virtual clinical assistance to doctors. While this is a business move, it’s a strategically aligned with the patient-centric approach of the marketing team for engaging and interacting. I also mentioned What a Relief. That is entirely conceptualized by the India Business and Marketing.The digital outreach program dovetailing to the ‘What a Relief’ platform is expected to have an estimated reach of 20 million consumers and caregivers. It entails sizeable investments to support better diagnosis and treatments. Through this mass awareness drive, we intend to create resonance with symptomatic BPH patients and caregivers with an effective call to action to speak to the nearest specialist. The online platform will combine end to end solutions for BPH, few of them which will be activated in due course are Booking an online appointment through the platform, digital coupons for diagnostic support and chemist geotagging (10k across India) to reach out to the nearby pharmacy to avail the prescribed medication. Going beyond the pill to empower the patient is something we will continue to do.