Ad Analysis – Lifebuoy: an endeavor to save lives by the millions

A man walks on his hands through the landscape of rural south India while a Tamil prayer runs in the background- words that basically express sincere and deeply felt gratitude of a father for his son’s health to God. That sets the tone of Lifebuoy’s new campaign underscoring a social message that a simple act of hand washing can prevent diseases like diarrhea in areas where medical attention is urgent yet scant -and can thus saves lives. Incidentally the numbers for diarrhea related deaths in Indian villages run into millions.

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Lifebuoy has moved from its initial brand image of “tandurusti” to positioning itself as a precursor to healthy eating habits- by the simple act of hand washing pre meals. Whether it is the innovative campaign to prevent diarrhea related deaths and focusing on ridding MP’s Thesgora of diarrhea or through the stamping of roti’s with a simple message “kya aapne lifebuoy se haat dhoey kya”? the campaign is focused on taking the message and reach of Lifebuoy to people by millions through an emotional connect.

This move from a functional/ awareness based communication to a more affective/emotionally charged communication is in sync with the commonly accepted practice of moving a brand in the top recall mindshare of the consumer once its functional attributes have been well communicated to the end user. The brand has to be bigger than just the product’s functional attributes and it should communicate to the consumer that it associates itself with what the consumer really feels which is much deeper than the consumers’ immediate functional requirements. In this case, it is communicating to the parent that it understands the unconditional love and the unspoken and rarely expressed in many words concern that a father feels for his children.

What makes this campaign a runaway success with around 130 million views around the world can be attributed to three factors:

One sleek consumer insight translated through a creative hook: The ad translated the consumer insight of paternal love often understated can scale heights to see children safe and healthy and translated it through an emotional trigger. A creative, memorable way of showing that was through the father walking miles on his hands in a rural landscape to the temple. Despite and inspite of exhaustion and the seemingly daunting nature of the task itself, he walks on and offers a simple and heartfelt of gratitude on the day of his son’s fifth birthday who we find out at the end has survived up to five years of age unlike his other children

Social message through the emotional connect without overtly focusing on the brand: At the end is the message that a simple act of hand washing can prevent diarrhea related deaths in rural villages where medical attention is scant and often not immediate. It plays up the old adage that prevention is indeed better than cure. The focus is not on the brand Lifebuoy throughout the campaign which only reveals itself at the end. Instead the advertisement builds up as it plays along all the way to deliver the social message at the end

Simple, real people and a supporting landscape: No over the top bling that was probably to some extent a feature in the previous Lifebuoy advertisements. The setup was real and resonated with the viewers at large.

– Sonal Sapale.

Sonal Sapale

Sonal is a Chemical Engineer from ICT Mumbai currently in her 1st year at SPJIMR. She has worked for C Tech Corporation, a specialty chemicals company. Travelling and writing short stories & human interest articles interest her.  She has served as the editor for ICT’s non-technical magazine.

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