Inside The Cause Marketing Campaign #GirlsWithGoals By Lenovo India For YUWA

Lenovo India and Experience Commerce have come forward to execute a real time video journey to build awareness and raise funds for a new school for YUWA girls


Henry Ford, founder of Ford Motor once said: “Failure is the opportunity to begin again more intelligently.” Every successful man has delved into history books after he has evolved from his failures. Because failure is just the way forward to success. It is part of life and if we don’t fail, we don’t learn.

The YUWA (a not for profit organization that teaches girls to play football so that they are strong enough to take their own decisions and confident enough to face the world) girls who were representing India at this year’s Donosti Cup in Spain, might have failed this season but they are not afraid. They have learned more from their losses than their victories.

These tribal girls who come from the state of Jharkhand are already champions in their fight for self-esteem. These girls are from a society that doesn’t allow them to take simple decisions in their life. So failure is nothing new for them but what makes them real life heroes is that they fail to rise with a stronger will and power. Not just on their own but as a team.

They are ready to fail forward but can we as individuals embed the same in our lives too. The final video of the “Girls With Goals” campaign underlines the core message of ‘failing forward’.

Franz Gastler – the mind behind YUWA

Before we talk about the campaign, let me introduce you to Franz Gastler - A graduate of Boston University, who had once dreamt of becoming an economist, today is the proud founder of YUWA. At the age of 29, he was already bored with his desk job in Delhi. Finally he decided to get rid of the tie and found a job at Krishi Gram Vikas Kendra, a non-governmental organization that focuses on the economic development of the eastern Indian state of Jharkhand, a state considered to be a top source of human trafficking for forced labor and sexual exploitation.

From starting to teach football to just one girl, Franz took this opportunity to make a change at the grass root levels to forge gender equality, confidence, and opportunity. Football became the enabler not only to educate the girls but also to bring out their self-esteem and belief.

Today YUWA is one of the largest girls’ football programs in India, with 250 players, 150 of whom practice daily. In 2013, the team finished third in an under-14 tournament in Spain, and last year they traveled to the US to take part in the Schwan’s USA Cup.

But for NGO’s to keep the dream alive, they need to scale and this is where corporates can play a big role. “Corporates need to be the problem solver with the NGO at the ground level” Franz said while talking to Lighthouse Insights over a call.  He is glad that YUWA has scaled up over the last couple of years, thanks to support from fans and corporates.

One name that stands out in this list is Lenovo India which has associated itself with the girls since 2014. “Three years ago, the world was covered under the football world cup fever and we had no direct association with the game. This is when we were informed that YUWA girls were flying to the US for participating in the Schwan Cup. We lapped up the moment and came on board as supporters. Over the period we’ve seen that YUWA girl’s spirit embodies the Lenovo’s spirit,” Bhaskar Choudhuri, Director – Marketing, Lenovo India added.

While Lenovo looks upon Franz and the YUWA girls as real life heroes, Franz also realizes that working with the right people makes life really easy. “Lenovo is going far beyond advertising. The team is always passionate about integrating tech into education.”

Pitch to Her

Last year Lenovo India executed “Pitch to Her” campaign with the sole intention of integrating technology with education and making it fun. The brand along with its digital agency Experience Commerce installed Lenovo Labs at Hutup in Jharkhand. From placing Hutup on Wikipedia and Google Street View, the girls got a chance to have some musical interaction with Surojit Chatterjee – co-founder of Bengali rock band “Bhoomi”, who came down from Kolkata to hang out with the girls, play songs for them, help them use Makey-Makey kits and create music with them.

The fun didn’t end there, Yuwa girls experimented with lighting up solar jars, GoPro cams, and light painting. Our earlier coverage, From Creating Music To Lighting Up Solar Jars, Yuwa Girls Are Hacking Their Way Ahead With Lenovo covers all their activities and excitement.

Not just that the second leg of the campaign was crowdsourcing internship ideas to make the life of  YUWA girls easy. In a month’s time more than 1400 internship pitches were made to the YUWA girls and finally 3 landed up with a memorable internship. “Boots on the ground give a clearer picture than reading fuzzy figures in NGO annual reports, and more involved partnerships like Lenovo’s will help to separate the wheat from the chaff in our sector,” Franz said.

Read: The Story Of Lenovo-Yuwa #PitchToHer – From 1340 Pitches To 3 Internship Winners.

Girls with Goals

On July 13th, 2013 the girls created history; they were placed third among 10 teams playing for the Gasteiz Cup in Victoria Gasteiz, Spain. Since then there has been no looking back. This year the girls were determined to up their mark. But the Donosti Cup is a different level, it is the biggest youth football tournament in the world, fought aggressively by 25 countries.

However this year it is not just about football, it is also a quest for these fearless girls to build a new school in their village in Hutup, Jharkhand.

Listen to their story in this heart-wrenching video where the girls open up about themselves, YUWA, what it means to play the game and why they are in a dire need of a new school. Don’t be surprised if you find a known celebrity listening to their story and being a part of their happiness.

Actor Ranbir Kapoor also happens to be the brand ambassador of Lenovo India. To empower the YUWA girls, Lenovo India has once again come on board with the launch of “Girls with Goals” campaign.

“When we heard the girls have qualified for the prestigious Donosti Cup and that they want to raise funds for the school, we knew it was the right time to engage the community in the inspiring story of Team YUWA who are in a sense representing India. We wish to not only cheer for our team but to help them realize their dream of a school in Hutup,” Bhaskar informed.

The campaign objective is to raise awareness about YUWA and eventually drive corporate sponsorship for the new school. From a brand point of view Lenovo wants to make people connect to its core brand thought – “Fail Forward”. People know what Lenovo as a brand does, but little do they know what it stands for. Through the set of films, Lenovo’s philosophy of rising up and learning from failure ‘smartly’ – then moving forward, would be delivered. YUWA girls are living examples of this brand philosophy and hence the connect.

Speaking at length, over a call with LI, Amit Doshi, Head – Consumer Marketing and Digital at Lenovo India emphasized that while it is a cause marketing campaign, it is also an influencer marketing campaign.

“YUWA girls are our influencers who live the brand philosophy at every given point of their life. Additionally, #KickForABrick is an activity that calls for user participation. Even if you see all our digital campaigns almost most of them involve influencers and user participation. For us engagement is very critical, we want people to participate in our activities.”

Real time video storytelling

Real-time (nearly) video storytelling was the core selling point for this campaign. Experience Commerce documented the entire journey of the girls from Jharkhand to Spain in 4 real-time videos. The agency also launched a single point online destination for all the activities related to the campaign –

The idea to create real-time video storytelling emerged from the static notion that usually people discover and tell great stories after an event is over. The technique used is to re-create a story. “In our case, that was not going to be possible. This had to be a real-time documentary, but yet it had to be dramatically told to ensure we sustained audience interest,” shared Aarti Shah Creative Director at Experience Commerce.

She further shared that the YUWA girls story is equal or more dramatic (and heroic) as any commercial movie, like Chak de. “Having Ranbir Kapoor on board was a natural advantage since the plot was ‘movie’ and because of the fact that he is a footballer himself, the context of him being the narrator was a natural fit.” The below video is an example:

The entire real-time video campaign was shot in Jharkhand, Mumbai and Spain, on some days simultaneously in two locations (Spain & Hutup) when the match was live! During the duration of the campaign, the web production and social crew was in Mumbai and the video crew in different cities. “A core team went to the 3 different locations and we stitched the story together in near real time.”

The beauty of all the videos lies in the fact that the heroes are not walking out from vanity vans but they are the real people. Ranbir has just played the role of a storyteller. “Ranbir mostly gave his own takes and genuinely interacted with the girls. All the fun stuff he did was all his own! All this made these videos appeal to the person with a discerning mindset. They were not synthetic. There was a human story and it was all unfolding as you followed the girls journey,” Aarti shared over an email with Lighthouse Insights.

Challenges with real-time video storytelling

As nothing was synthetic and everything was real, it also turned out as the biggest challenge. How does one keep a user hooked to a real story narrated by some underprivileged girls from Hutup? While the effort was to showcase a heroic movie that involves people, but it was still a documentary about the girls from Jharkhand, recollects Aarti.

The major part of the story unfolded with the girls performing at Spain. This posed a challenge, as interaction with the girls after a loss was really difficult.

“The story for every next episode thus had to be dramatized at different stages using music and beautiful cinematography. We were capturing every single movement of the Yuwa girls and always had to speculate what could possibly become a hero moment in the next episode.”

Additionally, another challenge came up when the agency decided to live stream the YUWA matches on Facebook. It is very easy to start a Facebook live video on mobile but it becomes tricky when you are using high definition cameras to record the games on the ground and the same needs to be posted on Facebook in real time. The fix came forward when the tech team started fiddling with the Facebook API.

The campaign which is also known by Fail Forward, also pushed innovation in terms of the sheer usage of platforms. Other than the regular Facebook and Twitter, the brand has extensively used the ephemeral video messaging app Snapchat. “We knew that the platform has very less traction in India but still we were pushing on digital networks to stay ahead of the curve,” Amit shared; he saw the entire campaign unfolding on Snapchat.

Fundraising for the new school

Creating awareness for the YUWA girls is just one objective; the other bit is raising funds for the school. Lenovo is running a fundraising campaign on the platform Ketto (Donate here). According to Franz, football is just a talking point in this cause marketing campaign. “The real problem is building a new school for the girls.”

In the coming days, the fundraising activity will speed up. The brand is going to target especially the women corporate leaders via personalized Twitter messages and a printed storybook highlighting the efforts of YUWA and the cause for which the brand is associated. “The idea is to associate other decision makers of the industry with YUWA. As a brand, we can just go to a certain extent, this activity might lead us to a right partner who can also support the cause,” added Bhaskar.

The tournament for YUWA has ended, the campaign has come to a close but the struggle continues for the tribal girls. Will that deter the girls? Of course not for the sheer reason that they are born fighters. Along with the NGO, Lenovo India has came out as a winner in this cause marketing campaign. The numbers may take time to come but the real impact will only happen when the girls get a new school. (Read: Lighthouse Insights in its personal capacity is trying to raise INR 150,000 for the school. INR 102001 has already been raised so far. Donate here.)

Lenovo has been associated with YUWA for the last three years. Every year the brand has walked one new step while creating an impact in the lives of the girls. But “Girls with Goals” campaign is not only about creating awareness, the brand has made sure to associate itself on the ground by making a larger impact. The brand has been able to exemplify its philosophy of Fail Forward with the YUWA girls, while it pitched in the Lenovo YOGA tablet.

Bhaskar, who seems to be happy with the campaign, believes that credit must go to the girls and Franz. “All brands work for authenticity but it also matters how well it is executed. While the girls and Franz have inspired us to push the boundaries more, having right minded partners is also important. I am glad that we have Experience Commerce which allows us to remain in to-do course.”