Why #AskMadhuriWithOralB Is A Blatant Product Promotion In The Name Of Community Engagement

Oral-B lets fans on a Q&A; with brand ambassador Madhuri Dixit, but instead uses the video responses by the actor to promote its toothpaste's benefits

Over the couple of years social media has provided celebrities a platform to engage with their fans. For a fan nothing is bigger than receiving a reply from her favourite celebrity. Brands do understand this relationship and have been involving their brand ambassadors for a while now on social media. The deal is simple, celebrities are invited on social media for an interaction with fans and in this the brand hopes to make a space in the youth’s mind.

The only problem here is that the youth don’t buy advertisement, they are sold to a good story. The World’s No. 1 toothbrush brand Oral-B is yet to understand this simple thought process.

In 2013, Procter and Gamble Co. (P&G) rested its trust on one of Bollywood’s most popular actors Madhuri Dixit to help it break the dominance of Colgate Palmolive and Hindustan Unilever, which together control 73% of India’s toothpaste market. Over the years the brand has also built a presence on social media. Recently, Oral-B decided to boost its engagement by letting fans interact with Madhuri via #AskMadhuriWithOralB.

The not so unique campaign informed fans that they could ask any question they wanted and Oral-B will record the responses from Madhuri for a select few. The campaign began with Oral-B encouraging fans on Facebook and Twitter to share what questions they would like Madhuri to answer. On Twitter, followers responded with their questions using the hashtag #AskMadhuriWithOralB.

Finally on the fourth day of the campaign,  Oral-B released two video responses and two more the next day.

#AskMadhuriWithOralB - a blatant product promotion

The campaign is being referred to as the most innovative campaign from the brand but reality is that there is no innovation in #AskMadhuriWithOralB.

To start with, this is a done to death campaign. Taking questions from fans on Twitter and answering them via YouTube has been done by numerous brands; moreover we had campaigns where the responses were in real-time. At a time and age when life is all about instant gratification, Oral-B prefers the other way.

Additionally, if you look at the video responses, everything looks so plastic  - from questions to responses and the forced brand integration. For instance let’s view the response to Madhuri’s favourite sweet.

The 30-second video response has the answer to Madhuri’s favourite sweet which is Modak. The first 15 seconds is fine but after that Madhuri talks about the real issue that surfaces after eating a sweet. Then she advises to brush carefully to get rid of the problem of sweet particles sticking to tooth gaps. The video ends with Oral-B talking about how Pro-Health is the name of the solution.

Similarly the answer to the question - What does Madhuri love about her husband?, which is his smile, also ends with how she believes in Oral-B’s best plaque removal solution. The remaining two videos follow the same formula of product promotion in the name of responses to fan questions. Interestingly all the video responses had no mention about the Twitter user who had asked the question!

Earlier this year for the A6000 launch, Lenovo India got Ranbir Kapoor on social media for a day. While it is a known fact that Ranbir avoids social media but for a day, as the brand ambassador of Lenovo India, he was present on six different social networks taking fan questions and requests. Not on a single occasion did he engage in blatant product promotion like Madhuri does in this Oral-B campaign.

May be it’s time that Oral-B thinks of real fan engagement rather than creating such videos. And if the brand wants to create product promotion videos, nothing wrong with it but then don’t wrap it under the name of fan engagement. Sorry Oral-B, #AskMadhuriWithOralB isn’t an innovative campaign!