Strong Teeth, Strong Brand: Colgate Shows Why It Stays On Top


“Colgate Strong Teeth”


With a staggering market share of almost 80%, Colgate is almost synonymous with toothpaste in India. This latest ad from the brand shows why Colgate retains such a powerful market position. It doesn’t rest on its 90-year heritage. The brand is always paying attention to Indian trends and market needs.

On the surface this is an entertaining sketch of a grandmother and grandchild, but look deeper and the themes in the ad are strongly relevant to the current Indian oral care market.

First, a summary for readers outside India –

A grandmother endorses the new Colgate Strong Teeth brand. The narrator is amused – what does she need strong teeth for at her age, she implies. But it’s not just for her – the brand strengthens the teeth of her “cutting machine”, i.e., her grandchild, who we see tearing open a packet of milk with her teeth in one scene and using them to clean and strip sugar cane in another. Finally, the child’s cutting goes too far as she snaps her grandmother’s knitting wool!

It’s a highly enjoyable and entertaining spin on the standard “product endorsement” ad formula, and the ad scores very well on System1’s Test Your Ad Digital, getting a 4.0-Star Rating with 65% of the audience expressing happiness after watching it.

Our new Attention Trace metric shows that only a few viewers drift away early in the ad. But once the grandchild takes center stage the audience is hooked and, on average, they completed 72% of the ad. That’s impressive for a minute long creative. Even better is the exceptional Digital Fluency rating with over 90% of people recognising Colgate after only 2 seconds.

This is a very strong ad by our Test Your Ad Digital metrics. But it’s also an ad which has a powerful specific appeal to the Indian market right now and helps Colgate’s strategic priorities.

For instance, the ad avoids the highly familiar mother-daughter trope that is commonly used in Indian FMCG advertising and focuses instead on a grandmother and a grandchild. Grandmothers are seen as a wellspring of wisdom in Indian culture, and the ad positions the older woman as wise in an entertaining way.

The scene with the sugar cane is also more than just a bit of comedy business. While Colgate dominates the toothpaste market, category penetration in rural areas remains low. It’s important that the story is not set in some posh, upmarket home in Delhi or Mumbai. Additionally, the grandchild is shown playing a harmonium, a traditional Indian instrument, and uses a traditional method to peel the sugar cane.

Finally, the overall feel of the ad is distinctively Indian, celebrating idiosyncratic Indian behaviors. That’s an important cultural statement at a time when unapologetically embracing “Indian-ness” is a trend. Colgate-Palmolive may not be an Indian company but its roots in the country run deep and its understanding of the Indian consumer is admirable. This ad shows why the brand is a force to be reckoned with and should inspire any marketer who wants to help a top brand stay on top.

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