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How HUL's 'Roti Reminder' Lifebuoy campaign became a major hit at the Kumbh Mela

Updated: Oct 8, 2020

The latest ordeal of COVID-19 and how hygiene and sanitation have become extremely important has brought the memory back of how surreal was Lifebuoy’s Roti reminder campaign and how it became a major hit at the Kumbh Mela.


At Kumbh Mela, the largest congregation on earth where all big marketers and brands are vying to sell their wares and boost their brands, the one promotion that stood out was Hindustan Unilever's 'Roti Reminder' for its Lifebuoy soap brand.


Starting with some facts.


The Maha Kumbh Mela India, which is the largest religious festival on the planet invites over 100 million people every 12 years, to pray together, to live together, and to eat together. The last Maha Kumbh Mela took place in the month of February 2013 and HUL’s Lifebuoy took advantage of this festival to remind people to wash their hands before having food.


Where did they print this message, well the food itself!


The roti is a staple item served with every Indian meal. And the only way to eat it?

With your hands. Lifebuoy decided to create a special heat stamp with the message, ‘Did you wash your hands with Lifebuoy?’. They then hired 100 promoters, to stand in 100 kitchens spread across the Maha Kumbh Mela and instructed them to impression fresh rotis with the Lifebuoy message.


Not only this but the country's largest consumer products firm, along with creative agency Ogilvy, partnered with more than 100 dhabas and hotels at the mela site to serve rotis that were stamped with "Lifebuoy se haath dhoye kya?” (Have you washed your hand with Lifebuoy?).


What was the motive behind his guerrilla marketing move by Lifebuoy?


It was to make the important message embed in the minds of people that how important it is to always wash your hands with soap before you eat and that handwashing with soap before eating can prevent transmission of many disease-causing germs. As Indians, when the majority of our eating medium hands, the message and the reason behind it becomes all the way more important.


The campaign that started on February 1 in the year 2013 ran for 30 days. The company managed to imprint the message on 2.5 million fresh rotis. The 'Roti Reminder’ idea was to get the consumer's attention at the exact time when handwashing is critical.


Lifebuoy also managed to spread this message at key junctures throughout the city through street hoardings and banners.


A reminder at the right time can go a long way to ensure this habit is followed.


What was the result?



With a total investment of $36,000 over 5 million people were directly impacted. If we go on to calculate the cost of acquisition, or what can we call as cost of impact here, it turned out to be less than 1 cent.


The brand recall improved by 4% and the market share was an all-time 3 year high. With almost all the global and domestic media coverage there were a total of 79 million impressions and the gross turnover of Earned media turned out to be $59.3 million which was about 1600 times the ROI.


As a marketer, where the motive is not only to improve brand equity and recall but also a major focus on creating awareness among the society, the campaign turned out to be a massive hit.


According to the Unilever Sustainable Living Plan, Unilever aims to improve the hygiene habits of more than a billion people and this campaign proved to be one major step in reaching the desired goal.


With harsher times now when all of us are in lockdown but also aggressively trying to escape a deadly virus, this reminder to keep sanitizing your hands every 20 minutes, especially if you have come from outside becomes extremely crucial.


So do not forget to wash your hands and also before eating do ask yourself ‘Lifebuoy se haath dhoye kya?’

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