Over the past couple of years, Vicks’ “Touch of Care” campaign in the Asia-Pacific (APAC) region has opened eyes and sparked discussion around issues that are considered taboo and generally swept under the rug. The P&G brand told the true story of an adopted child with a rare skin condition in 2018 and, the year before, of a transgender mom and her adopted daughter.
This week, Vicks and Publicis Singapore released a 4-minute video, “Just a Boy,” that tells the tale of a young Filipino boy who was born with HIV and has been raised by a family friend named “Agnes.” The powerful story is designed to help reverse the stigmas and stereotypes that still exist around the condition.
“The purpose of the Vicks brand is rooted in care. With our #TouchOfCare campaign, we aim to share stories where people have transformed [the] lives of others through their extraordinary acts of care. The story of ‘Agnes’ was one such story which just needed to be told,” said Akhilesh Negi, P&G brand director, healthcare, APAC.
At the beginning of the film, a baby is handed to Agnes, a friend of the child’s mother who died from the disease. Only after a trip to the hospital does she discover that the boy has HIV and, from that moment, she fully commits to not only raise and protect him but to provide as normal a life as possible. Eventually, Agnes receives good news: that the virus is dormant in the child’s body and he can now live like other kids.
“He didn’t choose to be born with [HIV],” she says in the film. “But I’d like to think that whatever is in his blood is constantly overcome by my love for him.”
While the story could have been more heavy-handed, the brand and agency manage to strike a critical balance of telling the real story while making a point about societal norms and beliefs.
“While brands have the power to lead conversations and influence culture, it is ordinary people in their everyday lives who actually inspire these brands to reflect relevant realities in our advertising,” said Ajay Vikram, Publicis Singapore chief creative officer for global clients. “This extraordinary ability of a person to transcend every imaginable boundary to feel and care for another life, another human being, continues to be the inspiration for Vicks’ ‘Touch of Care’ campaign across multiple geographies. To celebrate the lives, amplify the stories and support our everyday heroines and heroes is a privilege for our brand.”
The campaign is connected to Project Red Ribbon (which is associated with the World Health Organization and UNAIDS) and the “Duyan Project,” which provides care and support to children living with HIV in the Philippines.
P&G, VICKS Philippines
Vice President, Asia-IMEA Healthcare & APAC Oral: Sujay Wasan
Regional Associate Brand Director, P&G HealthCare Asia Pacific: Akhilesh Negi
Country Category Leader, P&G Health Care, Philippines: Vijay Pampana
Assistant Brand Manager, P&G HealthCare Asia Pacific: Gagandeep Singh Sumbria
Assistant Brand Manager, P&G Healthcare, Philippines: Michael Gabriel Jayme
Creative Agency: Publicis Singapore
Chief Creative Officer, Global Clients: Ajay Thrivikraman
Creative Director: Sheila Gonzales
Account management: Natalie VanderVorst, Prachi Partagalkar and Jessica Geli
Account Planning: Jordan Price and Josh Roth
Director (film): Alan Harca
Production agencies: Elastic Films and Provill
Post production: Elastic Films
Music and Sound design: Loudbox
Agency Producer: Alain Tan
PR Agency: Fuse Philippines
Head of Fuse: Ley Lacsamana