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Storyboard | Practo gets a new 'friend' in Rahul Dravid. Here’s why

In an exclusive chat with Storyboard, Srikanth Pinninti, executive vice-president – marketing, shares the telehealth company’s goals for the new campaign as it expands into the secondary care market.

September 24, 2021 / 12:27 PM IST

What does a healthcare and diagnostics platform do when it needs to build awareness for its expanding portfolio of services? The answer in Practo’s case is to get Rahul Dravid on the pitch.

Not too long ago, Dravid made headlines for his batting skills off the field, in a commercial where the famously calm cricketer loses his cool and breaks his bat on a car’s wing mirror. Dravid’s sudden turn from gentleman to gunda got everyone talking. But Practo, it seems, is not looking for that kind of attention.

As the 13-year-old telehealth company's first-ever brand ambassador, Dravid, features in a high-decibel advertising campaign across television and OTT platforms. Through this campaign, the former Indian cricketer is “building awareness” for Practo Care Surgeries, the company’s foray into the secondary care market.

The brand's in safe hands

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In Practo’s campaign, Dravid’s characterized as a “caring friend”. The choice was an easy one. “He is always seen as a trustworthy person (both on and off the ground),” says Srikanth Pinninti, the company’s executive vice president – marketing. The new campaign created by Spring Marketing Capital is all about building brand awareness and trust in the category and brand, and cementing the idea that patients are in “safe hands” when they choose the brand’s secondary care surgery centres.

Practo’s ambition is to be a “comprehensive healthcare brand”, says Pinninti, who joined the company from Amazon Fashion recently. In an exclusive chat with Storyboard he says, “The India digital healthcare ecosystem will see laser focused disruptions in the next two-three years" and Practo’s entry into the $12-billion secondary care surgeries market in India is an indication of that. Currently, the company offers online doctor appointment bookings, telemedicine, pharmacy and diagnostic services.

Dialing up marketing in the pandemic 

In 2020, as the Covid-19 outbreak confined us to our homes, Practo launched ‘Hello Doctor’, a campaign to get people to seek professional medical advice via video calls. According to the company, Indians consulted doctors 10x more during the second wave of Covid-19 on Practo, as compared to pre-Covid times. While the split of telemedicine users from metro and non-metro cities stood at 90:10, respectively, in 2019, this changed to 50:50 this year with the onset of the pandemic.

Earlier this year, Practo also partnered with HUL-owned brand Lifebuoy to encourage people to opt for tele-consultation. Through a public service ad, Lifebuoy invited consumers to give a missed call to avail one free consultation with a General Physician on Practo.

The latest campaign is about raising awareness for its centres for Practo Care Surgeries (PCS) which offer 50 surgical procedures across three specialities. PCS Centres are currently across six cities - Bengaluru, Mumbai, Pune, Delhi-NCR, Hyderabad, and Ahmedabad. Practo’s goal is to take that number to 30 cities by the end of 2021. According to data platform Tracxn, Practo, backed by investors such as Sequoia, CapitalG and Tencent, is valued at around $904 million.

The doctor's orders 

Practo’s choice of celebrity brand ambassador is quite a departure from its competition Pristyn Care’s pick. The latter recently released an ad campaign featuring Bollywood actor Hrithik Roshan. In the past, television actors like Dilip Joshi and Anup Soni, and Chef Ranveer Brar were also seen promoting the brand on different media platforms.

Pinninti tells us, “There will be many companies making a play in the segment…” It seems cluttered at the moment, but the “category needs that kind of push,” he notes. In the end though, “Brands with value-based patient-centric solutions will stand out.”
Priyanka Nair

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