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Edible Branding Reaches Millions

What can we learn about innovative messaging to low income communities from corporate brands?

Photo of Meena Kadri
10 22

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Unilever approached Ogilvy in Mumbai to advertise its Lifebuoy soap at the Kumbh Mela last year. The Kumbh Mela is attended by 80 million Hindu pilgrims across 55 days. No, that is not a typo. India’s Kumbh Mela is the world’s largest congregation.

Ogilvy came up with an idea to promote the soap – and hygiene at large – at an opportune moment during this year’s epic gathering. Teaming up with 100 kitchens across the festival, rotis were branded with the message Lifebuoy se haath dhoye kya? “Have you washed your hands with Lifebouy today?” – providing a savvy and sustainable advertising avenue while creating a friendly nudge around effective hygiene behaviours in general.

How might we create messaging in novel yet relevant ways in various low-income communities – based on deep, local insights? How might we create messages which engage people right at the point when they need to act upon them? 

Let’s explore opportunities for messaging ahead of our upcoming Ideas phase. This will enrich our collective thinking and is likely to trigger more innovative ideas when we get there.

Based on my earlier blog post over at Random Specific



Join the conversation:

Photo of Alison Gilbert

Hi Meena, thanks for sharing. This campaign makes great use of theories behind behavioral economics, giving people the reminder nudge in the moment before they would take an action that could be harmful in the long run (eating with unwashed hands). The edible reminders are especially effective in this large event setting, with so many people preparing large quantities of food for the attendees.

It would be interesting to explore how this approach could translate to year-round use among families with young children. Instead of imprinting a reminder on food, a similar message could be stamped on everyday items such as toilet paper, perhaps using child-friendly images instead of words. A major challenge to something like that would be the cost and availability of that novelty item, especially among low-income communities in developing countries. But a partnership with a major corporate brand could help alleviate that challenge: the brand could produce and distribute those products at discounted rates as part of their corporate social responsibility efforts.

This kind of nudge could be powerful for other elements of daily life and building healthy habits among children and parents, such as brushing teeth before and after bed or checking for head lice after bathing. (An alarm clock with cartoon toothbrush images at the appropriate hours, sponsored by Colgate? A plastic comb with a visual reminder to check for lice, included in packages of Dove conditioner?) I'd be interested to hear other people's ideas for products that could have family-friendly reminders, hygiene-related or otherwise!

Photo of Meena Kadri

Great thinking for more timely nudges to be considered for our upcoming Ideas phase, Alison – we're excited at the possibilities around this. Could be good for folks to do more research (even via local migrant community groups if they're not based in the developing world) to establish what some of these key moments / products might be (eg. toilet paper is not predominantly used in India – though small plastic jugs in public toilet are) Neem sticks are used by many instead of toothbrushes – though something I've really seen take hold in low-income communities is micro-packets (sachets) of clothes washing powder. We're amped that folks will try and find out more about relevant touch points and products in various locations in the developing world towards coming up with some innovative solutions!

Photo of Bettina Fliegel

HI Alison and Meena. I am also intrigued by this messaging approach to preventive health care at key moments. Great idea to do some local research!

Photo of Alison Gilbert

Very good points, Meena and Bettina. The solution would have to be community-appropriate and would definitely involve research of the local culture and context. A specific approach in a South African township may not be appropriate or relevant in an Indian slum or a rural community elsewhere. Definitely important to keep that in mind as we think through the various key moments to get the message across!

Photo of Meena Kadri

Alison, love your thinking. In our Ideas phase, you'll be able to indicate on each idea what location / region your concept is intended for, so lots of scope to think in terms of local nuance.

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