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Kumbh Mela: Of clean hands and rotis

'Did you wash your hands with Lifebuoy?' That was the message, in Hindi, stamped on over 2.5 million chapattis at the Maha Kumbh Mela, the largest congregation of human beings on the planet.

twitter-logo Ajita Shashidhar        Last Updated: February 9, 2013  | 09:58 IST

'Did you wash your hands with Lifebuoy?' That was the message, in Hindi, stamped on over 2.5 million chapattis at the Maha Kumbh Mela , the largest congregation of human beings on the planet.

The unusual advertising medium certainly had pilgrims taking notice. The campaign enabled Unilever, the company that makes the soap, to reach a large audience in a low-cost but effective manner.

Rotis with a message
Rotis with a message

Unilever has the advertising agency Ogilvy Action to thank for the brilliant advertising idea.

Vipul Salvi
Vipul Salvi
Vipul Salvi, the 34-year-old National Creative Director of Ogilvy Action, is the one of the people behind the campaign. He says the idea needed to be big and innovative. "The obvious options were to put up stalls and play games around health and hygiene, but that would have been too gimmicky," remarks Salvi.

Those ideas were rejected since the Maha Kumbh is a spiritual affair. The mandate, therefore, was to look at other ways of getting the consumer in touch with the brand.

The ad agency deliberated over the campaign for close to eight months and came up with over 200 ideas before zeroing in on the roti campaign.

Rotis being stamped with the message
Rotis being stamped with the message

A heat stamp was specially made to make an impression on the chapattis. The agency tied up with over 100 dhaba owners in the vicinity and handed out more than 2.5 million chapattis stamped with the Lifebuoy message.

The heat stamps used to make an impression on the chapattis
The heat stamps used to make an impression on the chapattis

Lifebuoy achieved its aim of increasing awareness and getting people in touch with the brand. And many of the millions at the Maha Kumbh Mela ate with cleaner hands.

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