11 Innovative Social Cause Marketing Campaigns of 2015

India's biggest digital crowdfunding campaign collects funds for our farmers, a Bollywood star helps collect funds for midday meals, an NGO ropes in an acid attack victim to stop acid sales

social cause marketing campaigns

2015 has seen an interesting journey in social cause campaigns by Indian brands. Brands from varied sectors have been leveraging the social and digital media in cool ways, to mobilize people for a cause they believed needs to be changed with the help of people.

One brand took up the cause of our farmers, and successfully drove India’s biggest digital crowdfunding campaign to collect funds for the betterment of our farmers’ lives. Another leveraged the popularity of a Bollywood star to generate funds for the midday meals of our school children. An NGO roped in an acid attack victim for its petition campaign against the sale of acid. A tech giant demonstrated the many ways in which the innovative use of technology can improve the lives of many people.

Listed here are the most creative and innovatively executed campaigns on digital that drove change  to create a meaningful impact this year:

Mahindra #SeedTheRise

This October, Mahindra & Mahindra initiated a massive digitally-driven crowd-funding campaign to help improve the lives of our farmers, in partnership with digital agency Flying Cursor Interactive. Named #SeedTheRise, the initiative got donations pouring in through digital amounting to INR 1 crore; this was matched by Mahindra with another INR 1 crore to add up to INR 2 crore for our farmers.

This money will be used for farmer welfare through 5 carefully selected projects in collaboration with 4 NGOs. Projects have been designed to help improve the lives of farmers and their families in varied ways such as through providing alternative forms of livelihood, educating farmers’ daughters and helping them with agricultural advancements.

A fundraising appeal film featuring actor Nawazuddin Siddiqui, himself a farmer’s son formed the core of the campaign, leading to a donation website. The initiative also tied up with food bloggers and chefs across India who needed to create a dish in homage to the farmers and live-tweet their preparation. The social and digital mix also involved tie-ups with city-specific curation Twitter handles, live chats with the NGOs and more. Read all about the Mahindra #SeedTheRise campaign.

Nivea India ‘Mom’s Touch’

Skin care brand, Nivea India touched our hearts with its recent social initiative #MomsTouch that brought forth stories of extraordinary mothers. Nivea partnered with Aseema Charitable Trust, an organization dedicated to provide quality education to children from marginalized communities.

The social media driven campaign portrayed the story of some extraordinary mothers who want the best future for their child, despite having faced adversities all throughout their own lives. Viewers could join in the noble cause either by sharing the video on their social networks or by direct donations to the charitable trust. Each time one shared the film, Nivea contributed 100 grams of rice.

Mom’s Touch helped Nivea strike the right chord with its consumers and also provided them with an incentive for social sharing. Read all about Nivea India ‘Mom’s Touch’ campaign.

Make Love Not Scars ‘#EndAcidSale’

Acid attacks are a horrendous crime with lifetime consequences for the survivors. India witnesses as many as 1000 cases of acid attacks every year, acid attacks remain one of the most horrifying forms of gender based violence with almost 90% of victims being women. Yet acid is freely available at your local store, it is the cheapest way to clean toilets.

NGO ‘Make Love Not Scars’ that helps survivors, launched a petition campaign in association with Ogilvy & Mather, called #EndAcidSale. The idea was to move for a complete ban on toilet-cleaning acid and stronger implementation of Poisons Act and Poisons Rules.

The initiative chose a very powerful form of storytelling, one that demanded an immediate call-for-action against such a grave crime. It roped in acid attack victim, Reshma Bano Quereshi to convince readers to sign the petition, but did so in hard-hitting satire. A series of films have her giving beauty tips on applying eye liner, lipstick and getting rid of dark spots. Towards the end of her tips, she shares about cosmetics being available for INR 100, while acid is available at just INR 30. Read all about the Make Love Not Scars ‘#EndAcidSale’ campaign.

Lenovo-Yuwa #PitchToHer

Yuwa, a not for profit organization that teaches girls to play football to make their lives better, partnered with Lenovo for #PitchToHer – a social campaign that invited the brightest minds to pitch smart ideas that can impact the life of these girls through technology. The idea that convinced them won a month-long sponsored internship.

The agency behind the campaign, Experience Commerce introduced the girls to the wonders of technology – they placed their village Hutup on Wikipedia and Google Street View; they played songs, learnt to use Makey-Makey kits and created music with them; they also experimented with lighting up solar jars, GoPro cams and light painting.

The initiative received over 1340 pitches from setting up libraries and community centres to developing safety apps and building technical skills. The chosen 3 are now undergoing internship. Read all about Lenovo-Yuwa #PitchToHer digital campaign.

Lenovo Yuwa #Pitchtoher

OMRON India ‘#PayWithYourVoice’

Last year OMRON India, a world leader in industrial automation had launched a beautiful CSR initiative by way of which it could build the country’s largest audio library of poems for the visually impaired. One needed to read a poem from the available database or submit one of their own, though a specially designed site that recorded it. Interestingly, the first poem was submitted by brand ambassador Farhan Akhtar.

This year, the award winning campaign roped in ecommerce major eBay India to add value to a user’s poem contribution. For every day of the campaign, the first 125 submissions would win an eBay voucher, using which they can shop on the platform. One could select from a vast collection of pre-recorded poems or choose one from their own collection and record it online at the campaign website.

The win-win CSR campaign saw poems being recorded by Dia Mirza, Juhi Chawla, Atif Aslam, Anupam Kher, Sona Mahapatra, Rahul Bose, Amrita Puri, Rohan Joshi and many more celebrities. Read all about OMRON India ‘#PayWithYourVoice’ campaign.

Vistara #FlyTheNewFeeling

Vistara, the joint venture airline from Tata Group and Singapore Airlines, wrote a new chapter in the history of Tata Group that has been looking to re-enter the airline business in India ever since the last six decades. But, what the newly launched airline did on its maiden flight is an even bigger win for the brand.

Vistara partnered with the Salaam Baalak trust – a non-profit and non-governmental organization that provides support to street children of Delhi and Mumbai, to fly 12 kids on its first flight ever. The kids aged between 7 and 12 years were boarded first following other passengers and their absolute joy of flying for the first time was captured in a two-minute film titled, “When little feet found their wings with Vistara #FlyTheNewFeeling.”

The campaign managed to create a connect around the brand promise, ‘#FlyTheNewFeeling’ along with a meaningful differentiation. Read all about Vistara #FlyTheNewFeeling campaign.

Johnson Tiles ‘Red Ramp Project’

Bath tile maker, Johnson Tiles wanted to sensitize the Indian society towards making public places disable-friendly. Most of us able-bodied beings aren’t aware of the need for this. With over 10 million physically challenged people who can’t go to the beach, the temple or church, airports, malls, etc, there arose a need to demonstrate how the country’s public spaces needed to be made disable-friendly.

Johnson Tiles launched the ‘Red Ramp Project’ wherein a ramp was built on Kiri beach in Goa. Disabled people could now visit the beach via the tiled ramp and feel the waters lapping at their feet. A campaign video was created with three protagonists who had varying physical challenges. The film showed how this ramp helped them fulfil a long awaited dream – to visit the beach.

This is the story of Fredrika Menezes, who has cerebral palsy, is a writer, a poet, and an author by profession; Salil Chaturvedi, a paraplegic, is a writer by profession who has represented India in Wheelchair Tennis and is the only disabled person to have sailed Mumbai to Goa; Anuraag Khandelwal, who has polio, is the ECD at creative agency Soho Square, whose work has won many national and international awards. A campaign website asked people to make a petition for a disable-friendly India, while the digital film helped build awareness. Read all about the Red Ramp Project campaign.

Ching’s Secret ‘India ke hunger ki bajao’

There’s no denying that the right celebrity endorser can boost the media coverage of a cause-related campaign. Ranveer Singh, one of India’s current favourite actor lent his magic to a noble cause campaign by Ching’s Secret.

The premium Hakka Chinese brand walked the talk through its latest mission – ‘India Ke Hunger Ki Bajao!’ in partnership with Akshaya Patra, a not-for-profit organisation that runs the world’s largest mid-day meal programme. Ranveer, the brand ambassador spread the central message of the campaign – it takes only Rs 750 to feed a child for a whole year’.

A digital film featured the actor having a good time with school kids, while they figured out what all can be bought with Rs. 750 in these times. A campaign website served as an information and donation hub. The cause campaign helped Ching’s Secret lend an actionable voice to its tagline, ‘Hunger Ki Bajao’. Read all about Ching’s Secret ‘India ke hunger ki bajao’ campaign.

Paper Boat #FloatABoat

This monsoon, traditional drinks brand, Paper Boat got everyone to make paper boats and share pictures of their boat on social networks. The incentive? For every paper boat image that is shared on any social network, the brand would donate Rs. 20 towards children’s education.

For the campaign titled #FloatABoat, the brand teamed up with Parivaar Ashram, a humanitarian service organization. A microsite captured all the floating paper boats on social networks, while the brand shared adorable films on the cause and how to make a paper boat told through a school girl. #FloatABoat helped the brand strengthen its proposition of ‘Drinks & Memories’, and also bring back childhood to those from whom it had been snatched. Read all about Paper Boat #FloatABoat campaign.

CenturyPly Heroes 2015

Puja pandal artists do all the hard work, but never earn recognition. This year, plywood maker CenturyPly chose to recognize and help the carpenters who make the beautiful Durga Pujo pandals via its video campaign ‘CenturyPly Heroes 2015’.

Last Dussehra, CenturyPly arranged a surprise reunion for them; teary-eyed carpenters met with their families and also showed them their beautiful works of pujo art. This year, it appealed to 200 pujo pandals through ‘Smoke Free Pujo’ to nominate one of their carpenters for the campaign.

Three extraordinary carpenters among these 200 nominations were chosen to be honoured as ‘CenturyPly Heroes 2015’. Their stories were then captured into a video and the brand invited likes/shares, every like translate into better lives for the three CenturyPly Heroes 2015. Read all about CenturyPly Heroes 2015 campaign.

Turtle #SaveLittleShelly

Men’s lifestyle brand, Turtle launched a cool awareness campaign around World Turtle Day that was driven by social media – #SaveLittleShelly. The idea was to raise awareness on conserving the endangered species as well as highlight the brand’s role with the environmental cause.

An animated baby turtle called Shelly was created for a four-part series on YouTube. Viewers were taken through the journey of little Shelly right from the time she hatches till she reaches out to the sea, after having braved a number of natural predators on the way. The story moved forward with user likes and shares, that also translated into donations for the cause. #SaveLittleShelly not only reinforced the brand’s association with the environmental cause, but also got its consumers to join in. Read all about Turtle #SaveLittleShelly campaign.

Translating consumers’ likes and shares with brand contribution is a great way to bank on the power of social media, but this year saw many brands get involved in the cause in deeper ways. There is a certain eagerness reflected in their cause campaigns to make it big, to make it meaningful and bring about a significant change. The use of digital and social media has been a phenomenal one, compared to earlier years, implying faith in the medium and its power to co-execute a people-driven initiative.