HLL, Eveready: Catching Them Young

Updated: Aug 31 2002, 05:30am hrs
The scene: A packed classroom in a remote village in Habra, about 60km away from Kolkata. The 50-odd students are meticulously filling out a form given to them by their sirs. The form, printed in Bengali by Hindustan Lever Ltd (HLL), for its Swasthachetna campaign, asks the students to mention their date of birth apart from some other small details like the name of their village, local police station and the like.

The catch: their sirs will be back after a month and the student who collects the most number of Lifebuoy wrappers gets prizes. So far so good. The students are all excited but their date of birth is something that are not sure about...the obvious question follows. Do we have to fill it sir

Swasthachetna, or health awareness, in rural India for HLL is in full swing and the company is using communications firm Ogilvy Outreach to penetrate rural India for hawking Lifebuoy, one of HLLs power brands and bestsellers. The classes are conducted by people hired by Ogilvy and hail from the nearby districts. The first round of awareness campaign is over in the states of West Bengal, Orissa, Bihar, UP and MP and HLL will soon roll out the second phase targeted at villages with a population ranging from two to five thousand in 10,000 villages across the country.

The Swasthachetna campaign is designed in four phases. First, is establishing a contact with the local village schools. Since, the campaign talks about health awareness, access to schools is rather easy. School children are told stories on how germs enter their bodies causing diseases and what they ought to do to keep themselves healthy. This is done very carefully with glow germ tests as the children find a lot of enthusiasm seeing germs that they have in their own hands. There are special incentives for children to remain clean and tidy like a badge that they will wear for a month and of course a host of other freebies for collecting Lifebuoy wrappers.

The children are then given stencils and asked to go out in the neighbourhood. They have been assigned the task of covering the neighbouring walls with graffiti and the group that writes the most are given a football as a gift. But even this is not without its dose of difficulty. This correspondent saw a landlord chasing away a group of children when they tried to encroach on his newly painted wall. The next phase is contacting the masses of the village. On a particular day, the village people are asked to come for a baithak where they share the fruitfulness of what was done in the first round of Swastachetna. The people doing the groundwork asks doctors to participate in the baithak and tip others on how adherence to cleanliness can make them avoid diseases like diarrhoea. The school children also participate in this community gathering. Next in line is the task of contacting the mother and child and the child to child contacts.

HLLs Swasthachetna campaign is not an one-off event. Corporates are now increasingly eyeing rural India to hawk their products. Eveready Industries had recently collaborated with Ogilvy Outreach developed to develop a communication exercise to reinforce the value of brass torch and D size 950 battery and build up advantages of Jeevan Sathi over cheap Chinese torch available in the market. The aim was to maintain and strengthen brand relationship with its consumer by communicating the advantage of extra energy in Eveready battery. At the same time this opportunity was put to good use to build relationship with the retailers and increase retailer confidence.

The campaign involved interactive programs in villages of UP and Bihar. Along with static messaging in these villages the campaign also involved retail contact programmes in remote villages. For the Swa-sthachetna campaign, HLL has targeted 1172 villages in West Bengal and employing about 1500 people in the state.