Cipla promotes use of inhalers through celeb conversations on asthma

Cipla has been actively raising awareness on the issue on social media. Dr Vikas Gupta, Head, Prescription, India business, Cipla, speaks with on their recent campaign 'Let's Talk About Asthma' and how influencer marketing is important to their brand

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It's common now for brands to use influencers to sell their products. But it is rare to see them doing it for public awareness initiatives. As part of their #BerokZindagi campaign, Cipla, a pharmaceutical company, has taken the influencer marketing route to raise awareness about using inhalers for asthma patients and break stereotypes around the disease. What makes this more unique is that the influencers raise awareness on the subject through a conversation and not merely a monologue.

Cipla has been actively raising awareness on the issue on social media. As a continuation of the initiative, they have now roped in Chef Vikas Khanna and badminton player Parupalli Kashyap to speak about their battle against asthma. Shared as Instagram Television (IGTV) videos, they feature Khanna in conversation with actress Neena Gupta and Kashyap with his wife and badminton player Saina Nehwal.

Dr Vikas Gupta

Speaking about the campaign, Dr Vikas Gupta, Head, Prescription, India business, Cipla, said, "The objective of this initiative is to normalise the word asthma and the use of inhalers in public. The campaign has been designed to drive awareness among the masses and to empower patients, not only by educating them but also by equipping them with the required wherewithal for taking care of themselves better. The campaign is an effort towards educating people regarding the myths surrounding asthma and inhalers."

"Addressing stigma is crucial in achieving acceptance towards asthma. When popular and successful individuals from different fields who have suffered through and conquered asthma connect with the audience, they help start a social conversation. Actor Neena Gupta and badminton player Saina Nehwal despite being non-asthmatic initiated a conversation around asthma to reveal the journey and experience of Vikas Khanna and Parupalli Kashyap, respectively, with asthma. The informal interaction between the two personalities helps to understand the condition and how inhalers helped them to manage their asthma and achieve their dreams."

The choice of celebs is very specific and the effective cost per reach is higher than a usual influencer association campaign. Both the influencers are known to suffer from asthma and they have often spoken about it. This brings authenticity to the campaign. When they speak about the journey and their struggles with the disease, it will come from real experiences and will be highly relatable to other asthma patients.

"There are two aspects to it. We are projecting successful people who are asthmatic and how using inhalers has helped them fulfil their dreams without any difficulties. On the other hand, we also have celebrities who do not have asthma but resonate with the cause and are lending their voice to reach the masses. In a category that has many myths and stigma associated with it, it is important to create a social conversation on asthma and the influencers help us do that," said Dr Gupta.

The videos feature them in conversation with people who they are close to. Neena Gupta recently worked with Vikas Khanna in his directorial debut ‘The Last Color’.

Speaking about the unique format of the posts, Dr Gupta said, "We wanted the format to be very organic and make it interactive for our audience/ patient by involving them in the entire process. The idea was to bring in a person who knows our celebrity influencer better. We had Saina Nehwal and Neena Gupta, who had a personal conversation with Paurpalli Kashyap and Chef Vikas Khanna, respectively. It was mutually decided not to script their responses and we preferred to go with the flow. This ensured the conversations were genuine and true to their nature. This interpersonal approach builds a strong bond between the influencers and the masses, leaving a lasting impact on the subject and connecting to the content."

This helps us get a closer glimpse of the influencers. They stress the importance of using inhalers and consulting a doctor to treat the disease rather than giving into home remedies and myths that every family member suggests. They also dwelt on the stereotypes associated with asthma and how it affected them.

The brand has chosen a good medium to raise awareness about the common issue. Asthma patients are regularly suggested home remedies to treat their disease. There are also several stereotypes and myths associated with the disease that keeps them from consulting a doctor and taking the right medication.

"Influencer marketing is critical for us and it is equally important that we associate with the right influencers for the same. It helps the brand build a sense of value and trust among consumers, through an influencer who has considerable reach and influence. We also have a lot of doctors supporting us on social media and their opinion is key to build credibility to our message as they are the experts. Besides this, the audience engages with the brand on a personal level, which is where our stories by real patients come in. ‘Let’s Talk About Asthma’ will inspire numerous patients to come forward and speak about how they live unhindered lives because of inhalation therapy. They share their personal experiences with asthma and knowledge about the same that gave them the confidence to accept asthma and inhalers," he added.

With these videos, they attempt to answer several questions that patients may shy away from asking. With the influencers sharing their stories of how they have overcome the disease, they give the other patients the confidence to deal with it.

During the conversation with Gupta, Khanna shares his first experience with asthma, how he broke the news to the family and how he won over the disease.

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Vikas Khanna (@vikaskhannagroup)

Kashyap, during his conversation with Nehwal, spoke about the challenges of being an asthmatic athlete and his mantra of dealing with the disease.

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A post shared by Kashyap Parupalli (@parupallikashyap)

The videos have been shared by Neena Gupta and Saina Nehwal on their Instagram handles. Both of them also have a good number of followers on the platform and with influencers from such diverse backgrounds— culinary, cinema, and sports—the posts are likely to reach a larger audience base.

Speaking about the response for the campaign, he said, "We have seen an overwhelming response from the audience on digital media. Hence, with our recent campaign, we had taken a digital-first approach and we had leveraged digital platforms primarily social media (YouTube, Instagram and Facebook) and OTT. If we talk about the campaign, we got 20 crore video views. We also received support for our Social Media Movement #SayYesToInhalers with more than 8000 people participating and helping us to spread awareness. The campaign has been working for us and over the years we are seeing a rise in awareness and acceptance of inhalers."

According to data provided by content marketing agency Sheeko, the influencer-driven campaign has crossed over three lakh views in a media value pegged around Rs 25 lakh.

Sheeko Brandscore graph of the brand’s performance on Instagram over one year:


Through #InhalersHainSahi, Cipla has brought out several campaigns on the use of inhalers. In February and March, they had brought out a campaign called #AtoZofAsthma. Apart from Khanna and Kashyap, it featured Ayushmann Khurana and some doctors and patients advocating the use of inhalers. In association with Breathe Free World in January they brought out a myth versus fact series in multiple vernacular languages busting various myths around the disease. In last year’s campaign, several celebrities posed with a common hand sign and nominated other celebrities to do the same. This year’s campaign is at a much smaller scale compared to that.

Cipla asthma