Sebamed is once again asking you to listen to science. In its new campaign, the German skin care brand is advertising for its anti-hairfall shampoo. The ad, which has been created by the agency, The Womb, features disgruntled men and women throwing shampoo bottles at a wall, out of frustration.
The highlight of the ad is that Sebamed asks the viewer not to trust shampoo recommendations from friends and family. The ad also mentions that the anti-hairfall shampoo has a pH of 5.5 and is designed to help people tackle hair fall problems at the root itself.
The product claims to improve the overall health of the scalp and make the roots stronger to prevent hair fall. While most shampoo ads have glamourous shots of shiny smooth hair, the visuals in this ad focus heavily on close-ups of a scalp and roots of hair. Sebamed is also offering solutions to other hair problems through its anti-dandruff and every day shampoo range.
Kawal Shoor, Creative Partner at The Womb, stresses that the right pH is absolutely crucial for the scalp, as we sometimes forget that it (the scalp) is also skin. “Harsh shampoos peel off the protective layer from the scalp, leading to potential hair loss. Also, in many parts of India, we are forced to take a bath with hard water, and hard water’s pH is close to 8.5. That is why we hear so many people suffer from hair loss in hard water markets. So, pH is as relevant for proper hair care, as it is for skin care.”
Sebamed’s first ad campaign ambushed big names in the FMCG (personal care) space. The ads dragged brands, like Dove, Pears, Santoor and Lux, in a 360-degree ad campaign #SebamedScienceKiSuno. The brand’s ad films highlight that most beauty soaps have high pH levels, which are harmful for the skin. They go on to mention that Sebamed maintains a ‘perfect’ pH level of 5.5.
According to Shoor, the agency’s intention was always to let truth speak. “It felt like ambush to some because we’re so not used to calling a spade a spade. Our work was to launch the Sebamed brand in the urban consciousness, not to create controversy. We should not confuse approach with objective. And, even with this campaign, our objective is to bring a science-based solution to hair loss.”
Talking about the visual language of the campaign, he says it is inspired by the incredibly high level of frustration that people shared in research with other hair loss options. The constant refrain, he heard, was that they had tried everything, but nothing worked.
“Sometimes, we don’t need to be clever. There’s a golden rule – when you have something simple to say, say it interestingly, but when you have something interesting to say, say it simply. That’s our attempt with this campaign.”
Sebamed has been trying to carve out a presence in the FMCG space for a while now. It was introduced in India in 2007. Previously, it was a brand that people would purchase after being prescribed by dermatologists.
Around 2018-19, the company realised that there was a rather large opportunity in the over Rs 20,000 crore Indian soap market and decided to test the waters with smaller influencer-led marketing initiatives.
Konark Gaur, Head of Marketing – Sebamed India, says the scalp is also skin and that it’s important to maintain the pH levels for optimal hair health. He adds that all of Sebamed’s products have a pH level of 5.5 to ensure mildness.
“We invest a lot in understanding our consumers. We have consumer learning processes in place for us to identify the lead as well as information gaps in the market. Hair loss is a big consumer pain point. We wanted to use this campaign to educate our consumers on the difference between hairfall and hair loss,” says Gaur.
The advertising codes for hairfall shampoo variants are fairly set. We see a man/woman combing their hair, expressing dismay upon finding more hair strands on their comb. Subsequently, they use the shampoo being advertised and their hair grows back, stronger than ever.
Gaur mentions that popular shampoo brands tend to highlight the problem of hair breakage. “That’s a partial solution, not a complete one. Most of the hair fall happens at the root level, which becomes weak, and that is something they (the brands) are not highlighting. Perhaps, because their product is not geared to solve that particular consumer problem. When your root is weakened, your hair follicles start falling and that’s what causes hair loss. This is different from hair breakage.”
Gaur stresses that often, hair breakage is misconstrued as hair loss.
Another interesting aspect of Sebamed’s campaign is that it asks its consumers to trust science and not go by the recommendations of their friends and family. When asked why they chose this line of messaging, Gaur mentions that when people go for recommendations from family members or friends, the product may not be right fit for the person.
“While they have the best of intentions, they have not really understood the issue. If somebody doesn’t have the full reading of the problem statement, the solution may not be the most optimal. This is why we are urging everyone to refrain from looking at recommendations from here and there, and trust science to do the job, because science is not going to let you down.”
Gaur adds that the consumers these days are putting in a lot of research into the products they buy and would consider taking the science-based approach to selecting the product that’s right for them. He elucidates that shampoos these days are categorised into two types – problem solving and everyday use.
“Problem solving involves shampoos that have anti-hair loss and anti-dandruff properties. The everyday shampoos are for cleansing and refreshing the hair. When it comes to family usage, people tend to purchase shampoos from the everyday range. But nowadays, people are looking for more specialised hair solutions and we will continue to offer specialised solutions.”
Gaur is looking to build long-term trust with the consumers and says, “Trust can’t be short-circuited. It takes consistent effort to build and so, we will continue to maintain the tonality of the brand and continue with science-led marketing.”