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Practo seeks comic relief

Doctor discovery and appointment platform, Practo, uses humour to build the brand as similar apps flood the market

Patanjali Pahwa  |  Mumbai 

Practo seeks comic relief

Pop culture is littered with references to ominous phone calls from hospitals and unpleasant Be it Bollywood or the numerous ads for health insurance that play out on our television screens, illness is serious business. Doctor discovery and appointment platform Practo, fresh from a round of funding where it raised $90 million in August, has decided to break away from that mould. Laughter, it has decided, is not only the best medicine but is also the best way to build the brand.

Around five months ago, it used a series of hilarious situations to drive home the problems people go through when looking for doctors and fixing appointments. "We want to take away the anxiety that surrounds healthcare and hence decided to use an element of humour. We've received phenomenal response, which means consumers are appreciating our approach," said Shashank ND, founder and CEO, The company's website reportedly saw a six to eight fold increase in hits after the ad went on air. The company says it has over 200,000 healthcare professionals and 10,000 hospitals on its platform. The company also recently announced that it had made 40 million appointments so far making it the biggest platform of its kind in the world.

In an industry that is barely a year old, numbers make a difference. And hence the need to build instant recall among users is paramount. is using its advertising to separate itself from the rest; there are at least four other brands across India who offer similar services. In the US, ZocDoc and Better Doctor operate in a similar space and have raised over $100 million together.

Practo seeks comic relief
The campaigns that has run so far focus on two things: the funny side of an otherwise grim situation and the ease of use. The aim is to get people to be comfortable with the concept of booking an appointment with doctors online. Take its ad, Tip Tip Barsa Pani, Pani Ne Aag Lagayi, urging patients to book an appointment with their urologist using the app. It takes off from popular Bollywood numbers and evokes laughter by getting its audience to associate a raunchy rain number with the predicament of someone suffering from a delicate condition.

Since it is trying to tickle the viewers' funny bone, is it targeting a young audience? Not really says the company. Health is a universal concern, even more so for the elderly. "We are building a global product that everyone can use, so there really wasn't a specific effort to target the younger audience," Shashank said.

Humour also eases anxiety, which hopes would encourage people to get over their apprehension of using an online service to book their appointments. The idea is to evoke a smile rather than scare people into downloading the app.

Practo seeks comic relief
is looking to expand its global footprint and deepen the array of services on its app. It has launched its services in Indonesia and is available in English and Bahasa. It has also acquired Insta Health, a cloud-based hospital information system. Reports say is targeting the enterprise segment through Ray and might go in for more acquisitions to strengthen its hold on the market. Shashank says, "We reach over 35 cities in India and feel this is the right time for us to use mass media since we have significant coverage in the country."

First Published: Mon, October 12 2015. 21:29 IST