15 Akharas+35 Tonne Tata Salt=50 Lakh Engaged; The Compelling Tale Of How TBB Ruled Simhasth Kumbh

Marketing | May 25, 2016 | Feature

Tata Group The Brand Brewery

Held once in every 12 years, Kumbh Melas are no less than a battleground for brands. Who can forget the HUL Lifebuoy Chapati campaign at Kumbh 2013 in Allahabad? Or the Dettol ‘Kam Pani Mein Jyada Suraksha’ campaign at Nasik Kumbh last year? Both these campaigns best used the ‘Opportunity’ of Kumbh Mela to create a strong recall value for their respective brands and engaged billions in the process. But leaving a few examples like above aside, rarely have we seen examples of brands successfully engaging people at Kumbh. In most cases, these religious congregations end up becoming a commotion as multiple brands scream at the top of their voices, yet still fail to convey their brand messages to the audiences.

The recently concluded Simhasth Kumbh Mela too witnessed the presence of numerous brands that came in with their respective agency partners to rule the rural demographics of Ujjain. However, at the end of the day it was Tata Salt and their agency partners The Brand Brewery that stood out amongst others with their ‘earthy yet innovative’ campaign, “Shubh Bhojan Ki Shubh Shuruwat.’’

The Idea

Tata Salt is the leading & most trusted edible salt brand in India and has over 65% of the market share in the Salt category of the country. The brand aimed at creating a strong impact at the Simhasth Kumbh Mela and thus reached out to their agency partners, The Brand Brewery with an interesting challenge- “Construct and execute a branding idea and activity that stands out in the crowd of millions.”

The Brand Brewery, being a modern day agency that thrives on innovative ideas, took the challenge heads on and began the background research for the same. Speaking about it, Pradyumn Tandon, Director, The Brand Brewery says, “Our interpretation of the brief was slightly deeper – we had to create a relevant connect between the Kumbh and Tata Salt. But this was a puzzler, because in general, we don’t think much about salt. We are told by doctors that excessive salt intake is fatal for blood pressure, and the iodine in salt is essential for health. But we had to move beyond these associations and find deeper meaning to the ingredient.”
He continues, “We then started digging into our rich cultural history and found that in our ancient culture Salt was believed to be divine, life-giving, life-preserving and a potent symbol of good luck. In fact in many Indian sub-cultures, salt was the first thing to be served on an auspicious occasion, for reasons both spiritual and scientific, the scientific reason being consuming a pinch of salt before a meal stimulates the taste buds to the hilt, increasing saliva secretion and helping improve digestion.”

Research and Conceptualization

Padyumn further adds, “Everything we read suggested an ancient link between ‘auspicious beginnings’ and ‘the eating of salt’. And thus, we set out to Ujjain to verify this belief amongst spiritual gurus and historians. This is where we hit the jackpot – we found that some priests and devotees continued to follow the long-forgotten practice of starting an auspicious meal with a pinch of salt and with this validation, the entire concept of the activity was born.”

The Activity

After their research was thoroughly carried out and validated, The Brand Brewery began formulating the activity. The agency introduced a simplistic yet robust innovation – giving Salt its rightful place on the Indian thaali by creating an additional slot for it. The main idea behind it- honouring the devotees and priests that followed this forgotten practice and propagating the new use of salt among the billions attending the Kumbh. Thus, triggering a change in the age old perception of Salt being just an ingredient in food to being considered an auspicious food item by itself!


To execute the activity The Brand Brewery spent long hours and did extensive research to create a thali that was bio-degradable and still was in the proper shape to inculcate a slot for Salt, Pradyumn reveals this was one of the biggest challenges of executing the activity. He elucidates, “Using plastic was not an option as it is not environment friendly and hence we had to create paper plates that had slots in them for Salt which is difficult to do as paper plates are difficult to mould into anything other than their original formats.” He adds that the thali had the message of, “Kariye Shubh Bhojan Ki Shuruwat Tata Namak Ke Sath” to convey the brand message.

These thaalis fed lacs of devotees through 15 major Akharas of the Simhasth Kumbh Mela (places where food is served to worshippers), and the first thing that was served on these plates was a pinch of Tata salt to start the auspicious meal, bringing salt’s age-old glory to the masses! This innovation of the Indian thali was supported by a larger initiative – wherein the brand had distributed 35 tonnes of Tata Salt to various akharas to be used in preparation of the auspicious meals, and also to be served at the beginning of the meal. Thus, amplifying the brand proposition to the maximum.

So how many people were engaged through the activity? “We soothed approximately 50 lac pilgrims and also their minds by creating new perceptions of salt through the activity”- reveals an ecstatic Pradyumn after the successful execution of the campaign.

Truly, “Shubh Bhojan Ki Shubh Shuruwat” campaign by Tata Salt and TBB is an example of how brands can create strong and successful campaigns in the rural when brand custodians and agencies work in participation. Interestingly, this isn’t the first time TBB had collaborated with Tata Salt’s brand custodian Sagar Boke, both had also churned out one of the most engaging experiential campaigns of last year, “Bhajan Se Bhojan Tak” for the brand Dalda in Boke’s previous stint as the Marketing Head of Bunge India.


With their ‘earthy yet innovative’ campaign, “Shubh Bhojan Ki Shubh Shuruwat.’, Tata Salt and The Brand Brewery managed to change the perception of salt among the attendees of the Simhasth Kumbh Mela

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