The thinking behind Lowe India’s Warc Strategy Prize-winning idea for Hindustan Lever

Kan Khajura StationLowe Lintas, together with media agency PHD, recently landed the Warc Prize for Asian Strategy for their creation of a radio station – called the Kan Khajura Station – that enables Hindustan Lever to reach remote rural audiences in India via a simple mobile phone.

In this interview with Mumbrella’s Asia editor Robin Hicks, Lowe Lintas president Deepa Geethakrishnan and executive director Anaheeta Goenka talk about an idea that revolves around leaving a missed call in return for 15 minutes of free content.

The Kan Khajura Station case study video:

So, where did the idea come from to use the missed call phenomenon?

Deepa Geethakrishnan and Anaheeta Goenka

Deepa Geethakrishnan and Anaheeta Goenka

As a country, our dependence on devices and gadgets has skyrocketed in the recent past. Owning a mobile phone today is a basic necessity alongside roti, kapda and makaan (means food, clothing & shelter – a popular colloquial phrase in Hindi, a local language in India). This trend is particularly true for the far-flung towns that depend on this rudimentary device to stay connected with their friends and families and also as a source of information.

While the user base for mobile in India is unquestionable, the usage pattern varies depending on the socio-economic classification of the users. Call costs being a driving factor for the economically challenged audiences, who possibly invented the concept of a “missed call” that’s thriving in India for a long time. Leveraging this, the innovation here was about re-purposing it as an on-demand entertainment channel. The idea of turning this into a ‘radio station on your mobile phone’ was something the team at Lowe Lintas came up with.

What was the insight behind the campaign?

The platform runs on a true consumer insight which is relevant for every Indian. Or for that matter every person. We all crave to stay connected with the world, and we all desire some entertainment in our daily lives. But for those who live in darkness – literally disconnected, it’s a relief that connectivity is not ultimately linked to electricity. And all information is available on their rudimentary mobile phones.

What was the biggest challenge in executing the campaign?

The biggest challenge was to get people to remember the number 1800 30 000 123. The entire idea of strategically driving it as a radio station, and then creating its identity uniquely from a culturally locally relevant inspiration, the Kan Khajura Tesan, all worked towards getting people to remember a 10 digit number – and dial this number, again and again and again. All in an environment where there was no dominant media vehicle existing. We used every possible little opportunity to give the people pf Bihar visibility to this number….be it walls, shopfronts, busbacks and even trees. To date, our singular strategic communication focus is making the number memorable.

Of the 15 minute phone call, how many minutes were ads?

Not more than two minutes, 15 seconds were dedicated to ads.

How sustainable is the campaign? Is it still growing in terms of user numbers?

This idea is eternally sustainable. You can now avail the service from anywhere in India. We now have over 20 million subscribers and growing; who get free on-demand entertainment on their mobile phones.

How have sales of Unilever brands been affected as a result of the campaign?

As of now we are definitely seeing a rise in awareness for Hindustan Unilever products, in these media dark areas. We will be able to track real sales impact a little later.

It’s a strong case study video. What was the thinking behind putting that together to impress awards juries?

We actually just simply put forward the real work done for real people. However, we had to clearly explain the concept of the missed call mechanism and the callback and how it worked for the consumer – the actual platformic ecosystem. Most of the video was shot close to a small town called Bettiah in Bihar with the real challenge faced and real people experiencing Kan Khajura Station.

You worked together with media agency PHD on this campaign. Who did which bit of the campaign?

Kan Khajura Station was a collaborative effort between Hindustan Lever, Lowe Lintas, PHD and numerous other technical and content partners. The team at Lowe Lintas conceptualized the user proposition, user journey, branding and the content strategy. Once the mechanism was in place, we created the integrated campaign to drive traffic to the toll-free number. The team at PHD led the overseeing of technical and content partners to deliver the experience seamlessly to the audiences.

It’s become very noticeable in recent years that India leads Asia for strategic thinking. Why do you think this is? What is India’s strong strategic heritage rooted in?

A lot of our strategic thinking is rooted in deep culturally relevant insights which strike a connect with our consumers. Also, a lot of our creative work leverages local nuances and hence at a level it connects beyond just the message.


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