Aurora Magazine

Promoting excellence in advertising

Published in Jul-Aug 2018

Hamdard rebrands

Will Hamdard’s attempt to revamp their legacy with a new vision work?

Hamdard Laboratories Pakistan – a private, non-profit pharmaceutical company known for their herbal medicines – recently launched a corporate campaign aimed at rebranding Hamdard as a 21st century brand that connects with the younger generation.

Originally a matab (a herbal medicine clinic called Hamdard Dawakhana), Hamdard was founded by Hakim Said in 1948, after he migrated to Pakistan from India. Within six years, Saeed was able to make Hamdard a leading manufacturer of herbal medicines and products and in 1953, when Hamdard had become a big pharmaceutical company, Said declared it a Waqf (an Islamic irrevocable trust).

Today, the lab is part of the Hamdard Group, which also constitutes Hamdard Foundation (1964) and Hamdard University (1991). Hamdard Laboratories Pakistan produces over 500 products in two divisions: FMCG, under which come Rooh Afza, Joshina, Carmina Plus, Miswak Toothpaste, Revand Toothpaste, Isapghol Khas with Guar Gum (orange) and Isapghol Khas with Guar Gum (regular). The pharma division includes OTC products like Suduri, Sualin, Safi, Naunehal Gripe Water, Erqember, Barrisal, Somina, Tunsukh, Khuban, Roghan-e-Badam, Garlina, Sharbat Toot Siyah, Isshaleen and Rahat-e-Shikam. The rest are specialised medicines available through 30 matabs across the country.

Talking about the rebranding campaign, Usama Qureshi, CEO and MD, Hamdard Laboratories Pakistan, says that about 18 months ago, the company realised that change was inevitable. In his view, as opportunities shrink on a daily basis, the strain to stand out only strengthens and it is important for brands to go hand in hand with the changing times.


The year-long campaign kick-started with the (first ever) Hakim Said Awards held at the Mohatta Palace Museum in Karachi in January this year. The event was attended by about 800 people and key personalities from different disciplines (literature, arts, culture, sports, education and health) were recognised, acknowledged and rewarded.


“Corporate rebranding is a difficult nut to crack, especially for a brand that is perceived and known as a caretaker of homes and has not changed in over a 100 years.” He says there were two ways to tackle the challenge; either stick to the old strategies and maintain an everlasting legacy or revamp with a new vision. “Obviously, the latter is a smart choice.”

The company, with the help of their agency RG Blue, has created an entirely new narrative that articulates the company’s vision, purpose and mission anew.

“We started by looking at the past and determining the key elements that would be required to develop a new and dynamic look that would connect with today’s audiences,” remarks Glen Joseph, Creative Director, RG Blue.

The year-long campaign kick-started with the (first ever) Hakim Said Awards held at the Mohatta Palace Museum in Karachi in January this year. The event was attended by about 800 people and key personalities from different disciplines (literature, arts, culture, sports, education and health) were recognised, acknowledged and rewarded.

“Hamdard realised the need to bring some amazing Pakistanis to the forefront to encourage others to walk the same path,” says Qureshi, adding this was the first event in the country’s history where notable personalities from different fields were acknowledged by a private firm.

It was at this award ceremony that Hamdard’s new logo was unveiled.

“We did not change the logo entirely. It is actually a new version of the old one,” says Saniya Naqvi, Creative Manager, RG Blue. “The two swooshes (that depict two caring hands) with the word Hamdard in between, were given a sleeker look to retain Saeed’s ideology of care. The colours were changed to two shades of green to reinforce the fact that the company thrived on the goodness of nature.


Rooh Afza (literally the ‘soul nourisher’) was formulated for the first time in 1907. Today, it is a cult favourite and enjoys 60% market share in the concentrated red syrup category (about 70 to 80 million bottles a year). Out of the 10 to 15% revenue that Hamdard generates from exports, 95% are directly from Rooh Afza.


Along with the change in logo design, the lab revamped and repackaged over 100 products in their portfolio. Their matabs too are under transition to become modern healthcare centres covering all aspects of healthcare.

A major focus of the campaign was on their flagship brand Rooh Afza – one of the oldest and indigenous brands of Pakistan and popularly known as Mashroob-e-Mashriq or the Elixir of the East. The company, in their Ramzan TVC, brought pride to the nation by announcing that the famous red syrup was now present in over 33 countries across the globe.

Rooh Afza (literally the ‘soul nourisher’) was formulated for the first time in 1907. Today, it is a cult favourite and enjoys 60% market share in the concentrated red syrup category (about 70 to 80 million bottles a year). Out of the 10 to 15% revenue that Hamdard generates from exports, 95% are directly from Rooh Afza. (source: Business Recorder). The drink (a direct competitor to Qarshi’s Jam-e-Shirin, Naurus and Bake Parlour’s Jam-e-Mashriq), is consumed most during Ramzan; though it is also added to milk, ice-creams or falooda (vermicelli noodles) as topping or to add flavour.

In terms of communication, the company aired two TVCs (corporate and Ramzan Rooh Afza commercial, scripted by Syed Qasim Raza and produced by RAM Films) along with a BTL activity on digital where the bottle of Rooh Afza was flashed on the NASDAQ screen at Time Square, New York, on March 23 (Pakistan Day).

“To highlight Rooh Afza’s global presence, we wanted to do something totally out of the box. Anybody could have gone for a grand commercial but we wanted to shake people up and tell them that we are not only present globally, we are where you least expect us to be,” explains Joseph.

Naqvi adds that no brand in Pakistan to date has done any communication at NASDAQ and “we not only pulled out a great animation, we put Pakistan’s flag there.” An activation followed afterwards where glasses of Rooh Afza were offered to the general public who were asked to comment. “Westerners had never tasted anything like it and they loved it,” says Joseph.

As per the agency, the NASDAQ video generated over three million views and the total interaction on Rooh Afza Facebook page shot to 4,262 comments.

Qureshi says Hamdard’s products have generations of loyalty behind them and there is a massive group of people who still rely on eastern herbal medicine. However, he acknowledges that there is a gap between the original target group and today’s consumer. Today, he says, our lives are showered by quick fixes and even quicker recoveries and people lack patience; they value fast and temporary things over those that are permanent and take time. Converting consumers away from quick fixes will be a challenge, in addition to “dealing with counterfeit versions of Rooh Afza, which is a massive and continuous battle.”

Looking ahead, the company is working on revamping its retail presence by bringing in new variants and product SKUs, including sugar-free and low calorie Rooh Afza. They are also aiming to become the preferred employer by providing a platform for learning and growth at Hamdard. Qureshi concludes: “The urge to succeed and being adaptive to modern times calls for a brighter tomorrow, a tomorrow which is empowered and backed by values of Hakim Mohammed Said.”