Every 12 years the city of Allahabad witnesses the largest congregation of religious pilgrims on the planet: the Maha Kumbh Mela. One hundred million Hindus descend on the city to take a holy dip at the Ganges River, and for over a month they pray together, live together, and eat together. Lifebuoy, however, saw a massive opportunity to provoke a behavior change in a meaningful and memorable way. Allahabad is a dusty, dirty place during the festival, and maintaining hygiene is not necessarily at the top of the attendees’ minds. What better way of reminding people to wash their hands than just as they are about to eat? The company’s marketers sent 100 promoters to set up shop at 100 kitchens and use heat-stamp devices to print a message on 2.5 million fresh pieces of roti, or Indian bread. The message said, simply, “Have you washed your hands with Lifebuoy?” A simple message that asks, unforgettably, “Have you washed your hands with Lifebuoy?” Roti is a staple served with almost every Indian meal, and the only way to eat it is with your hands.
On a total investment of $36,000, Unilever reached more than 5 million people directly. That’s a cost of less than 1 cent per contact. And there’s a sense it made a difference. 2.5 million fresh rotis were heat stamped with the message ‘Did you wash your hands with Lifebuoy?’ and served up to the 100 million attendees.