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Making memories come alive

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At the Ad Club’s Effie awards last week, Paper Boat’s Drinks & Memories campaign won the Grand Effie. The brand’s recent digital campaign, Hum Honge Kamyab, too has won many hearts with its message of hope. We talk to Parvesh Debuka, head of marketing, Hector Beverages Pvt. Ltd., about the brand’s latest campaigns and things that make it click




Q] Paper Boat has been known for its innovative advertising since its launch. What was the thought behind the latest “Hum Honge Kamyab’ campaign?

At Paper Boat, all of us are extremely and deeply connected with this song. It’s one song that everybody in our team very strongly believes in. It motivates you and is a beautiful thing that you are carrying in your heart. We keep humming it in our minds. So we thought, why not do something about this. We went on YouTube and realized there wasn’t a single version of the song that we would relate to. That’s why we wanted to create something that everyone could listen to and that’s how the journey actually began.


Q] Why did Paper Boat choose to associate with nostalgia?

In today’s day and age, most of us are far away from our hometowns. There are many things that have changed for the better and we have access to things that we always wanted. Looking back at my childhood, I remember during every summer vacation, I would pester my mother to make me not one but three glasses of aamras everyday. There are a lot of different memories related to this one drink and we realized while talking to people everywhere that they had similar stories. We realized people have such beautiful memories of summers so why not talk about these beautiful stories, because that’s where aamras is most closely associated with me, that how I grew up, that it was a part of my growing up days. And therefore we associated with memories, innocence and nostalgia.


Q] Is the brand thinking of coming up with a few more products like this?

Oh yes, we are constantly on the lookout for such hidden gems from across regions and it’s such a beautiful thing that there is such diversity in our country. Every place you go to has it’s own drink, something which is not available in other regions. Currently, we are working on bringing out a drink called ‘Neer Mor’ (spiced buttermilk). It is very popular in Tamil Nadu and Kerala. We will also come out with ‘Panakkam’ which is again a drink from Karnataka and people have it specifically on Ram Navami. We are also working on coming out with ‘Chilli guava’ which reminds you of that guy outside your school who would serve it to you on either a newspaper or your Math question paper after the exam. We are already exploring many similar drinks.


Q] How did Paper Boat, the brand, come about?

The story is out there. It all started with four friends, the two Neeraj’s, James Nutall and Suhas Misra. During summers, Suhas used to bring aam panna everyday. Over the course of lunch, one day, we were sitting there discussing beverages, having aam panna and suddenly we realized that we have never thought of packaging such drinks. I think, it was James who asked ‘Why can’t we package this’ and it was a eureka moment for everyone. That’s how Paper Boat began. It was similar to  making a paper boat. It’s not something you have planned or thought about. But when it rains, there is something in you that tells you, let’s go and make one. Something similar happened that afternoon.


Q] Are you doing something special in the digital space to connect better with consumers?

Yes, all the time. We are doing a lot of work on Facebook, Instagram and YouTube. On Facebook, we ask people to share their innocent childhood memories. I remember this time in my life when I used to think that if I ate a watermelon seed, a tree would grow inside me. So we ask for similar memories. On Instagram, we took a slightly different route but again, the story is there. Life is still beautiful. It’s still a beautiful afternoon right now in Bangalore, and if was a kid, I would be loving it and as an adult also I should be loving it.


Q] What is your advertising spend?

Numbers have zero bearing on what will happen in the future because as a startup when we are growing this fast, you know you go through phases. And you do things that are best for that phase. So this year we did something, next year there is absolutely zero reason to believe we will follow the same course. But if you ask me the split, I would say that for online, we have been spending about 15-20% and about 80% outside.


Q] What is your media mix? How much importance do you give to TV?

For us, TV has the biggest importance. It allows you to tell your stories in a beautiful way. You know there is almost a touching feel that can happen on TV. But digital is coming about in a big way too. Hum Hongey Kamyab was exclusively for digital. Every quarter there is something that we do exclusively in the online space apart from the regular posts on Facebook and Instagram.


Q] Can you tell us about your overall marketing strategy for the next few years?

I don’t know if I can tell you about the next few years. I can tell you where we are right now because it’s a very dynamic thing. I’d be fooling myself if I was to tell my clients for the next few years certainly. However, we are clear about the fact that we are all about the innocence that all of us behold. And we will be talking about the beautiful, innocent stories and memories and the stories that have given us some memories, so that’s the whole plan and we would continue to do that even going ahead.


Q] Can you share any interesting anecdote related to the brand? Any interesting experience?

Neeraj, our founder and CEO, was travelling in an Indigo flight, just after we had launched Sattu (a drink from Bihar). A gentleman who was travelling in the same flight who was sitting beside Neeraj saw him wearing a Paper Boat t-shirt and started speaking to him. He was from Bihar and was almost in tears. He thanked Neeraj for having packaged Sattu and said, saying “I cannot tell you how happy I am. I love the drink, this is exactly how we make it at home, it tastes the same, and I just can’t thank you enough.” The best part was that Neeraj met him again after three months and he identified him. So things like this that keep us going.


Q] As all your drinks are region-specific, how difficult is it to market such products to a broader audience?

I moved to Bangalore in 2010. I was in Bangalore in 2007 also for four months. When I was here in 2007 and when I came back in 2010, I realized that there are far more ‘pani puri’ guys in Bangalore than there were in Ahmedabad. Today, if you go around the city, you will find a pani puri guy standing there. One would think how there are so many pani puri guys in the city suddenly. The point I am trying to make is that with people moving cities, they carry food habits with them which helps you tell new people. For me, one is people who have already grown up on these drinks, and other is people who will discover them now. That’s what is happening currently.


Q] How different is your marketing strategy for Tier I and Tier II cities?

We are two-years-old as a brand and right now we are completely trying to get the top six cities. Today, we also have a very good partner on board, Indo-Nissin, with whom we have taken our products to the country market and that is shaping up very well. As of now, there is no difference in strategy in terms of marketing, but distribution is expanding at different pace in terms of these markets.


Q] What were the challenges that you had to face initially when you launched? What are the opportunities that you see for the brand?

We have been blessed that way. From day one, Paper Boat has surprised all of us. The kind of love that people have showered on us is overwhelming. We are blessed to actually not have had much difficulty in convincing people about what we are selling or packaging, or what is it we are trying to do. It’s been fairly straightforward and simple, but it has also been beautiful, when it comes to the packaging of the product. All of these things as a combination of factors have actually helped us to move very fast.



Paper Boat produces Indian ethnic drinks that are produced and marketed by Hector Beverages. The company produces creative, innovative and quirky drinks that are produced without using any preservatives, colour and carbonation. Currently, the drinks are available in variants, including: Aamras, Jaljeera, Jamun Kala Khatta, Aam Panna, Kokum, Golgappe Ka Paani, Chilled Rasam, Ice Tea in two flavours: Ginger Lemon and Tulsi, across Mumbai, Delhi NCR, Pune, Hyderabad, Kolkata, Bangalore, Chennai and Lucknow.



Parvesh Debuka heads marketing at Hector Beverages, makers of the traditional Indian beverage brand, Paper Boat. Parvesh handles all marketing functions, supply management and operations as well as delivering on Paper Boat’s goals. Previously Parvesh has been associated with the Titan group as the Brand and Marketing Manager for Tanishq.



Treat your consumers like your family. Respect them through your intent in products, your intent in marketing and your intent in distribution.



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PR AGENCY: Perfect Relations


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