New Delhi: In India, no success is sweeter than landing a seat in a prestigious educational institution like an Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), so much so that parents send their children for coaching to places like Kota.

Horlicks, the malt-based health drink by GSK Consumer Healthcare, chooses to highlight the innumerable pressures that students go through to crack the country’s toughest competitive exams for engineering and medical in a new digital campaign.

The film, made by advertising agency FCB Ulka, is set in Rajasthan’s city of Kota, the country’s biggest hub of coaching centres for entrance examinations, and traces the obsession with securing a high rank in these exams which often leads to insurmountable pressure on students. Aptly titled Fearless Kota, the ad is divided in two halves. While the first half familiarizes viewers with statistics on the alarming number of suicides among students, the other half talks about the value of emotional support and shows mothers of students coaching in Kota paying a surprise visit to encourage them to tide over the tough time.

Clearly, the ad has brought to the fore crucial mental health issues and the mounting examination pressure which often leads to fear of failure, stress, depression and suicides among students.

“Through the Fearless Kota film, we wanted to highlight that along with a healthy body, a healthy mind is equally important to perform. Therefore, the right emotional nutrition is needed for children to overcome the fear of exams. The film captures the belief that a mother’s love is the best dose of emotional nutrition that helps a child overcome stress and face exams fearlessly," said Vikram Bahl, area marketing lead, nutrition and digestive health, GSK Consumer Healthcare India.

The emotional execution of the video has resonated well with viewers online with the film garnering over 10 million views on the brand’s YouTube channel and over 2.3 million views on Facebook.

“Students in Kota have access to the best faculty and world class facilities, but they’re missing a fundamental need that is as biological as the need for vitamins. We’ve termed this emotional nutrition, and Fearless Kota is our way of showing its power. Going forward we will build on this narrative," said Swati Bhattacharya, chief creative officer, FCB Ulka.

Horlicks ad follows a similar narrative of what PepsiCo-owned Mirinda did in its Release the Pressure campaign last year where it talked about exam pressure. Tata Tea also did an ad talking about exam stress which often leads to depression and suicidal tendencies among teenagers.

Meanwhile, Horlicks’s competitor Bournvita also created a campaign Tayyari Har Exam Ki, which featured a school principal explaining to parents why good grades are not an insurance to success in life.

Ayan Banik, head–brand strategy, Cheil India, gave full points to the execution and brand fit to the Horlicks ad. However, he noted that the film leaves one wanting for more. He said that although the Mirinda campaign had a weaker product connect, it was an activation where students write open letters to their parents about exam stress which made it look more convincing.

“Any on-ground activation idea with a strong social engagement currency is way more powerful, endearing and real than a piece of ‘nice advertisement’. So in that sense the Horlicks ad comes across as a ‘me too’ piece of communication, without a fresh perspective," he said.

Banik feels Horlicks could have offered more tangible solutions to students. “For instance, it could be in the form of a 24x7 Horlicks helpline number manned by psychiatrists who could actually come to the rescue of these students. I feel it may have been way more effective than a visit from mothers with home cooked food," he added.

Athul Chathukutty, creative director - copy at advertising agency Happy mcgarrybowen, who also happens to be an engineer feels that the concept of “Emotional Nutrition" is fascinating. It also has an instant connection with the Horlicks brand.

“However, by simply bringing mums to visit their kids doesn’t seem like a very feasible solution and actually weakens the solid premise. Also, it also typecasts dads as the bad guys, which isn’t always the case," he said.

Chathukutty is hopeful that the brand will do something more long-term towards this issue. “I must add that it is quite admirable that the cup of Horlicks appears only fleetingly in the ad; makes me want to trust Horlicks’ noble intentions," he said.