The soap that saves lives, and other marketing stories

28 Feb,2013

 

By Meghna Sharma

 

The latest campaign by Lifebuoy shows a man walking on his hands from his house to the village temple as people follow him because his son turned five. ‘What’s so special about it?’ is the first thought which comes to mind, and this is echoed by the tourist who witnesses it at the end of the advertisement. The answer is the fact that two million children the world over still die before the age of five due to preventable infections like diarrhoea and pneumonia.

 

The advertisement is nothing but taking forward the commitment of Unilever’s health soap, Lifebuoy, of teaching children healthy hand washing habits. The three-minute film seeks to inspire action from viewers to pledge support for Lifebuoy’s handwashing programmes on the ground.

 

Saving Lives

Samir Singh, Global Brand VP, Lifebuoy says, “Our goal is to change the handwashing behaviours of a billion people by 2015. We wanted to tell the world the Lifebuoy story in a deeply emotional way. Our brief was to translate the statistics into something real, personal and powerful. And through this film, that’s just what’s been done.”

 

The campaign is created by Lowe Lintas. On the film, R Balki, Chairman and Chief Creative Officer of Lowe Lintas, comments, “A small act like washing hands with Lifebuoy can save a child’s life. This message needs to reach far and wide. So, we created this campaign that can open one’s mind to this amazing message. A campaign that moves people to the extent that they care to share it with others”.

 

The campaign aims to share the brand’s purpose. And since, social media and technology play an important role in connecting like-minded people who are eager to do something to make this world a better place. The brand wants to tap into this new community of people to inspire them to spread this message of saving lives.

 

“This is not just about an ad, but about creating an act. It’s an act that will make a real difference. An act that allows individuals, professionals and organizations to come together and collaborate around the common goal of eliminating child deaths due to diarrhoea and pneumonia. This film is the beginning of that journey and a clarion call to all to join this purpose,” adds HUL’s spokesperson.

 

Roti Alert!

At the beginning of this year, the brand launched another unique campaign – Roti Reminder.

 

The Maha Kumbh Mela which sees almost 100 million people descending upon the city of Allahabad turns into a temporary city in itself. And since the infrastructure available is often unable to service the sanitation and health needs of all attendees, infections tend to occur and spread far more easily through transmission of germs, which happens most commonly through infected hands. Hence, Lifebuoy hoped to aid the patrons and attendees by reminding them about the importance of washing hands and protecting oneself from germs. Lifebuoy not only spread the message at key junctures throughout the city through street hoardings and banners. But reminded people to wash their hands before having food through the food itself!

 

Lifebuoy created a special heat stamp with the message, ‘Did you wash your hands with Lifebuoy?’ and then hired 100 promoters to stand in 100 kitchens spread across the Maha Kumbh Mela and imprint fresh rotis with the Lifebuoy message.

 

Speaking about the genesis of the idea, Sudhir Sitapati, General Manager – Skin Cleansing, HUL says,” The idea came from the insight that hand washing with soap before eating can prevent transmission of many disease causing germs, but people often ignore or forget to do this simple act. A reminder at the right time can go a long way to ensure this habit is followed. This was the starting thought from which we developed a unique intervention – the Roti Reminder.”

 

The activation was for a period of one month and started from February 1, 2013. Lifebuoy also provided free soap to attendees at the Kumbh Mela.

 

The idea helped Lifebuoy reach out to a massive audience, at a fraction of the cost.

 

The on-going commitment

Over the years Hindustan Unilever has targeted its memorable campaigns towards achieving its aim, and Lifebuoy’s social mission has been to bring safety, security and health to people through the active promotion of hand washing with soap.

 

In 2002, Lifebuoy started a campaign known as Lifebuoy Swasthya Chetna, to promote good health practices by actively encouraging people to inculcate good hygiene practices, such as washing hands with soap at least five times a day. From 2002 to 2010, the project touched more than 120 million Indians.

 

Lifebuoy reached out to nearly 30 million people in rural India over 2010 and 2011 through a multi-brand rural outreach programme called Khushiyon Ki Doli (KKD) or “Caravan of happiness”.

 

Over the past 10 years, Lifebuoy has taken its hand washing behaviour change programmes to millions of people across the world, and now through its latest campaign it is aiming to change the hand washing behaviour of a whole village in central India – Thesgora, a village with one of the highest rates of diarrhoea. The initiative supports Unilever’s goal to deliver on one of its commitment under its Sustainable Living Plan – to help more than one billion people take action to improve their health and well-being.

 

By 2015, Lifebuoy aims to change the hygiene behaviour of 1 billion people across Asia, Africa and Latin America by promoting the benefits of hand washing with soap at key times.

 

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