Stayfree Stay Ahead helpline - How Johnson & Johnson created an engaging mobile platform to drive menstrual education

Case study by Johnson & Johnson aimed at menstrual education using mobile as the platform for Stayfree, submitted under the category: ‘Best Mobile Marketing’ for LI Digital Awards 2017

stayfree secure helpline

The Brand

Johnson & Johnson spread its root into India 70 years ago. Since then, the Company has brought many innovative ideas, products and services to improve the health and well-being of people in India. The Company is organized into three business segments: Consumer Healthcare, Medical Devices and Pharmaceuticals.

Problem Statement

In spite of decades of advertising and outreach, the penetration of sanitary napkins had failed to grow past 40% in urban India. And our research showed that 83% of girls felt unprepared for the start of menstruation and barely understood the basics. This was compounded by the cultural context around menstruation. Girls were subjected to multiple restrictions during their periods and felt uncomfortable asking questions on the topic. In such a covert category, where could girls go for answers that they obviously had about their health and bodies?

Stayfree, over the years, had championed the cause of driving menstrual education through school programs – especially in the states of Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra. The brand had also set up a physical call centre where girls could call and get their queries resolved, one on one. But this wasn’t enough.

The school program could only reach a limited number of girls and wasn’t built to address queries individually, while the call centre was limited by resources, responding only to a set number of girls per day, while also not operating on the weekends. Over and above these operational challenges, the key barrier was that girls felt extremely uncomfortable dialling in and talking to another person about such a taboo topic.

Identified Objectives

We realized that the only way to drive menstrual education was to make girls opt in to a helpline. That meant that we needed to create a platform which could not only be the go-to source for menstrual education but also be engaging and secure enough for girls to keep coming back.

Create an engaging platform to drive menstrual education, making sure that girls opt in and keep coming back.

The Strategy/Execution

Keeping all the challenges in mind, we built the Stayfree Stay Ahead helpline for women which was a voice based solution on mobile and was free for the consumer. It was an amalgamation of entertainment, FAQ’s around menstruation and physical call centre agents in three regional languages – Hindi, Marathi and Telugu.

While the FAQ’s was built basis our call centre data, the entertainment content was created in partnership with a leading general entertainment channel, Zee TV. For entertainment, we chose a popular show Kumkum Bhagya and condensed their daily episodes into engaging audiosodes.

To reach out to Stayfree’s target group, we approached mobile service operators and pulled out female databases in the age group of 18 to 35 years, thus making the targeting sharp and relevant. The helpline offered three options to choose from – listening to audiosodes of Kumkum Bhagya, IVR content on FAQ’s and the option of talking to a physical call centre if there were queries that weren’t addressed by the IVR.

The platform was intelligently built to identify the callers circle, and basis the same, a call back was arranged in their respective regional language. To drive re-engagement, SMS push was used. Also, to make sure that girls kept coming back to the helpline, they were given access to only two audiosodes per week.


Stayfree was able to create a safe, one-on-one space for girls to resolve queries on a topic that was difficult to talk about while also receiving engaging content. And girls chose to opt in in large numbers as shown by our results.

  • For the helpline, Total Brand Interaction figures reached over 1.56 million and Total Female Participation was recorded at 1.16 million.
  • The number of missed calls received crossed 1.43 million with an average call duration of 3.36 minutes.
  • Also, over 32,000 calls from the helpline were forwarded to experts.


One of the biggest takeaways from this campaign was that platforms and channels need to be chosen according to your target audience. The platforms of choice should be accessible to your target audience. For example: we realized, in India, feature phone penetration was much higher than smart phone penetration. Therefore, creating a campaign which required the use of a smartphone to educate girls on sanitary protection would have been a fruitless endeavour. But a campaign that included the use of an inexpensive feature phone was the right medium to reach the desired target audience and truly make a difference in their lives.

We also learnt that to create effective and engaging content, it was important to understand content preferences of our target audience. Tying up with a popular TV show on a GEC channel ensured that girls were curious and wanted to use the helpline.

Lastly, we learnt that keeping the consumer at the heart of everything sparks ideas that are simple, endearing but highly effective.