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South Asia PR Campaign of the Year

Campaign Title

Help A Child Reach 5

Hindustan Unilever Limited

LinOpinion Golin

Unilever’s longstanding objective is to convince consumers that handwashing with soap can actually save children’s lives, and to build brand love and sales of Lifebuoy soap through this social mission.

The campaign ‘adopted’ an Indian village, Thesgora in Madhya Pradesh, which had the highest number of diarrhoea deaths in India and chose a village boy, Mayank, to become a child ambassador. The agency paired Mayank with Kajol, an Indian film actress and social activist noted for her work with children, and found ways to place the pair on popular TV shows, not just news outlets. To sustain media interest, the agency identified a calendar of news hooks, such as Kajol’s attendance at global advocacy platforms like the United Nations General Assembly and later the World Economic Forum, and executed press conferences and other tactics around these events. Throughout the yearlong campaign, the agency used the Twitter hashtag #HelpaChildReach5 and a Facebook page to create and maintain conversations.

After the campaign 1 in 3 mothers who never did so before now wash their hands regularly, the handwashing rate among children tripled and child diarrhoea in Thesgora fell by 75 per cent. The campaign reached 29 million Indians via print media alone and obtained 2 million pledges to wash hands with soap. The campaign drove a 13 per cent increase among consumers seeing Lifebuoy as ‘a brand that cares’, while 56 per cent associated the Lifebuoy brand with the campaign. Lifebuoy sales grew 10 times faster than the soap bar category.


Campaign Title

Mary Kom's Bollywood Knockout Punch

Viacom18 Media Pvt. Ltd.


With over 200 films released each year in India, a big name and a strong story are not enough to make a film stand out. And in a country where male leads rule the roost, a film about Mary Kom—a girl from a remote part of India who fights the odds to become an Olympic medalist in boxing—had to be promoted in an unusual way to receive both critical acclaim and box office earnings.

Viacom organised bootcamps at more than 50 locations across the country, where participants performed physical challenges, with winners receiving certificates signed by the boxer. Boxing rings set up in various shopping malls gave people a real taste of what it would be like to stand in the ring. The company also launched Mary Kom action figures, which were made available to win or purchase. Among other tactics, the company held a press conference in a boxing ring to introduce the film’s trailer; placed a series of columns drafted for the lead actress, Priyanka Chopra; introduced a song, Dil yeh Ziddi Hai, which talked about Mary Kom and her unbreakable spirit; debuted the film at the Toronto Film Festival to generate coverage; and arranged 50 advance screenings for key opinion leaders.

Mary Kom became a game changer, with opening weekend box-office of more than 300 million Indian Rupee (US$4.7 million), the biggest opening weeked for a film led entirely by a female actor. The company also counts more than 165 hours of earned on-air visibility and engagement with 60 million people during the course of the campaign.

Campaign Title

Banking giant SBI wins over Indian millennials

State Bank of India

Adfactors PR Pvt. Ltd.

Prior to 2014, despite being India’s largest and oldest commercial bank with a 200-year-old history, State Bank of India (SBI) had been suffering from a lack of youth connect. An in-house analysis that revealed SBI was not the first choice among the next-gen population served as a wake-up call for the bank. The bank realised it was critical to correct this anomaly people who are below 35 years not only comprise 65 per cent of the nation’s population, but also represent the largest segment for consumer loans.

The agency helped the bank promote its digital-enabled branches and a ‘Youth for India’ CSR programme that allowed young professionals to help serve rural communities. Tactics included 74 press releases, interviews and media visits to showcase SBI’s diverse initiatives; promoting the launch of 385 SBI tech learning centres across India; 80 exclusive face-to-face interactions for top editors of leading national and international media with the bank’s first woman chairman, Arundhati Bhattacharya, who was presented as a youth icon and an ambassador of change; and increased social-media engagement.

In addition to an enormous amount of media coverage and an increase in social followers, Bhattacharya was named Fortune India’s Most Powerful Woman Business Leader and was included among Forbes Asia’s 50 Power Businesswomen and Bloomberg Market’s 50 Most Influential. During the year, SBI’s customer base increased to 22 per cent to 256.8 million and the number of customers between 21 and 35 increased 35 per cent to 82.5 million.