On bread, a message to save lives
And message is, did you wash your hands before you ate?
March 5, 2013
If you want to reach a captive audience, one way is to catch people when they are seated to eat.
And if you really want to catch their attention, you can’t do any better than delivering the message on their food.
And so it was that when attendees at India’s Kumbh Mela, a Hindu pilgrimage that takes place every three years, sat down to eat, they got something that wasn’t on the menu.
Each piece of roti, the traditional Indian bread that’s served with most meals, had a question stamped on it: “Did you wash your hands with Lifebuoy?”
The unique alternative media campaign, on behalf of Lifebuoy soap, was carried out by OgilvyAction of India.
But this wasn’t just a pitch for the Lifebuoy brand, clever though it was.
There was a deeper purpose, saving the lives of thousands of children.
More than 1.1 million children in developing countries die from diarrhea each year. Some of those deaths could be prevented if more children were taught to wash their hands before eating.
Kumbh Mela was an obvious choice of venue. The pilgrimage, which began in late January, draws more than 100 million people, and it’s a popular venue for advertising. The key is to get your ad to stand out, and advertising on the roti was certainly a new wrinkle.
OgilvyAction partnered with more than 100 restaurants and caterers at Kumbh Mela. It sent dozens of representatives to their tents, where they used heat stamps to print the message on the bread.
The heat stamp seared the bread with the writing, without using ink that would be dangerous for people to ingest.
Banners were also placed near bathrooms repeating the hand-washing message.
The stunt worked because of the novelty and the inspired placement. People snickered and showed their friends when they noticed the message on their bread.
When they went to nearby bathrooms, there was Lifebuoy soap strategically placed, with the effect of reinforcing the message.
Unilever, which owns Lifebuoy, said that the campaign cost a lot less than traditional messaging, and it reached a huge crowd. Some 2.5 million pieces of branded bread will have been served up during the month-long pilgrimage, which ends Sunday.
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